Nick Harris

Archive for April 2017

On The Bench

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I’ve been working with or in iOS consulting firms for the last 5 years. Consulting firms run on having billable devs on the payroll that can move to a project at any given time to meet demands but have to balance having too many devs on the payroll when there are no projects for them.

When you’re a full time employee at a consulting firm and have no billable project you’re “on the bench”. Pretty much dead weight. You’re not doing anything billable for the company but your salary is guaranteed.

There’s a bunch of ways companies deal with the bench. Most go for the option of never having one.

This works great for the bottom line, but this means rolling devs on and off of projects when the work ramps up on one and dies on another usually with limited knowledge of the new project to be  productive day one.

I have an idea.

Devs get burned out on projects cause its the same stuff over and over. They look forward to the bench time to reinvigorate. But some projects and/or lean running consulting firms never have that time. So you don’t have down time as a dev. You’re rolled from one project to the next with no ramp up.


I like the idea of 15% time that bigger companies can employ. As a dev you get 15% of your time to explore new things, expand your knowledge and come back to your team with a different perspective.

What if a consulting firm twisted this and put people on a different project one day every two every weeks?

The expectation wouldn’t be to deliver anything. You just spend a day poking around at something, learning how another project does things and maybe offering some solutions.

From a dev standpoint you get one day away from your project to look at something new and different. You get to checkout another projects code and see how they’re doing things. You might see something your team is trying to solve, or you might see something you’ve solved that they’re trying to solve. Both teams win.

From a consulting firm management standpoint you’re building up a bench of devs that can jump on a project without ramp up and avoiding the “non-billable” bench.

Its like a rolling bench where everyone learns, everyone’s billable and a devs can jump in without the steep ramp up.

Obviously this means tweaking how you do estimates and work statements by padding a few hours on each project at the benefit of interchangeable and knowledgable devs. That’s a big win. Not to mention stimulating your devs problem solving itch on something their not explicitly responsible for.

I’d like this at my work place 🙂

Written by Nick Harris

April 27, 2017 at 2:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized