Global scaled delivery: Achieving nirvana in managed services
POSTED : September 30, 2020
BY : Steve Larson

As markets grow more volatile, the ability to scale quickly to meet demand spikes is driving businesses to look outside their organization for solutions. Just as the customer now expects on-demand experiences, so do the teams behind those experiences. Capacity on-demand, the ability to have skills at the ready that require little to no ramp-up time, is now being looked at as the nirvana of managed services. Many service firms may say they’ve found a transcendent state of scaled delivery, but it’s important to consider a couple of important factors to determine if their approach is optimal.

Leveraging a strategic bench

Strong headwinds in the digital job market make it incredibly hard to hire desired skillsets, especially when the need is temporary. The ongoing pandemic has made many job candidates squeamish about the notion of jumping ship, which means there’s not a lot of extra capacity out there waiting to be tapped. A strategic bench exists to address these challenges.

Maintaining a strategic “bench” (people who are not allocated to specific tasks or projects) to quickly address an increase in demand can be costly yet necessary. Businesses typically only want to pay for capacity that gets consumed, but reality tends to force them to consider the alternative: the needs of the business not being met. Service firms, or independent contracting, often act as “the bench,” however the availability and quality of talent on short notice, for short durations, is a huge challenge. How does a business remain vigilant and prepared for the unknown without keeping critical skills in a holding pattern?

At PK we’ve structured a resource share model that allows us to always have a bench in place for key roles. By gaining efficiencies through resource utilization across all our clients, we’re able to maintain a strategic bench that each client can leverage, allowing them to re-focus their efforts away from staffing and towards achieving business objectives.

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The importance of a “steady state” team

But having the right talent available on short notice is only part of the solution. For a team to scale on-demand effectively they not only have to have the right skillsets, they need to have familiarity with the broader business context, preexisting systems, business rules, protocols, etc. PK’s approach optimizes team size against expected workload (the “steady state”), leveraging the team as a bridge for burst capacity.

Steady-state teams provide the skills that businesses need on an ongoing basis. Take analytics report production, for example. Demand for reports can spike throughout the year. As a business, how do you address a sudden increase in demand? You don’t want to hire to address a temporary need. Hiring temporary workers (contractors) is a common approach; however, the time and effort to find and vet the right talent, not to mention ramping them up to the point where they are productive, is becoming increasingly lengthier and more difficult. By retaining a small steady-state team who can provide oversight and guidance, then ramping that team to address additional temporary demand, we’re able to ensure there’s no efficiencies lost and the team can revert to steady-state once the “burst” demand has been satisfied.

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PK has optimized its approach to scaled delivery

PK can quickly, and effectively, scale to supplement for our clients. Along with a small steady-state team, we’re able to leverage a percentage of our bench not being utilized as burst capacity for clients. That means you don’t have to worry about taking a qualified candidate through a time-consuming contracting process for a job that may only last a few weeks. Our huge talent pool that includes Mexico, Argentina and India makes us uniquely positioned to deploy the necessary skills almost overnight.

While customers may expect their needs to be addressed immediately, most businesses struggle to react quickly. Hiring to address burst demand is not feasible and contracting (the traditional route) is no panacea—they end up spending an inordinate amount of time finding the right people and then waiting as legal and personal hoops are jumped through. In the meantime, the benefits associated with acting quickly may have passed. Hiring a partner with global scaled delivery chops, however, not only increases the capacity of the business but also allows the teams we support to focus on what they do best.

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About the author

Steve LarsonSteve Larson serves as senior vice president of digital technologies at PK. He has over 21 years of digital experience, including more than a decade driving large-scale ecommerce engagements for clients such as Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Starbucks, PetSmart, and many others. His recent work focuses on IT Modernization strategies that leverage cloud-based open source solutions. He’s a passionate advocate for Agile based “test and learn” approaches to optimize customer engagement through increased relevancy and connected experiences across all channels.

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