IT industry jargons:
- Bench: Employees who don’t have any assigned projects; they get full salary from their employers, but are not billed to any client
- Utilization Rates: Ratio of employees who are assigned to client’s projects versus those who are on bench. Higher utilization rates mean more productivity.
Infosys has finally decided to take some concrete action to reduce the ‘bench strength’ and increase utilization rates. Their new app called ‘Zero Bench’, designed just like Uber, will empower their benched employees to look out for work, and in turn their management will be aware of the exact human resource position which will enable them to take smart decisions.
If we compare this new app with Uber, then the employees of Infosys can be compared with drivers; and clients are the customers who need cabs immediately. Hence, just like in Uber, when the drivers (employees) fire the app, they will be able to locate which customer (client) needs their services, and depending on the location, the employee and the client would be connected.
Hence, with ‘Zero Bench’, an employee located in Pune need not wait for his manager’s approval to take up a new project based in Mumbai; all he needs to do is fire up the app, locate the requirement and apply for the project.
Ravi Kumar S, the company’s global head of delivery said, “Zero Bench is a next-generation people initiative that aims to maximize the potential of our talent who are currently trained and in between projects or on bench. We want to ensure that every individual is actively contributing towards organization goals by opening up opportunities for short-duration projects,”
Symbolism of Bench Strength: Before & After
During the early days of IT and Outsourcing, companies used to deliberately increase their bench strength, in order to impress potential clients. Stronger bench strength indicated that the concerned company is capable enough to handle a big project within shorter span of time. And often, this sole criterion resulted in successful project being outsourced to company A rather than company B.
But with increased competition, fewer projects and a huge number of employees, IT biggies are forced to alter this ideology. They are now turning into a leaner, slimmer and economical set-up where the existing pool of employees can be used and re-used for optimal performance.
Besides, the employees who are in bench will also get an opportunity to work in different platforms, and to gain as much experience he or she can. Hence, an employee working with dot net technology can now easily pick a work based on Java or HTML (depending on their skills set).
The human resource team will be better informed about the employees who are at bench, who are working on projects, and hence, they can initiate their hiring program in a better way.
With their new app for ensuring optimal utilization rates, Infosys has signaled a new change within the industry. It would be interesting to observe how other IT biggies respond this new trend of having ‘Zero Bench’.