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Redesigned people practices of Indian IT Industry 4.0: Delayering and Invigoration of Organization Structure

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The first post of the series: The way to Indian IT Industry 4.0 passes through redesigned genomes of people practices, emphasized on a 3-pronged people-centric approach to augment much desired resilience, agility and employee experience quotients of the future organizations. Guided by sensitively nurtured equitable organization practices, it sets the contours of a candid and trusting workplace milieu. The next post: Redesigned people practices of Indian IT Industry 4.0: Nurturing Organizational Culture & Employee Engagement, highlighted vital steps for enhancing workplace culture, transparency and employee engagement aspects.

The present post points out key opportunity areas, while Indian IT Companies are analyzing transformative design of a simplified organization structure to enable an actively engaged and empowered teams. By addressing critical issues of structural imbalance (disproportionately top-heavy), elongated hierarchical chain and diffused ownership norms, organizations can transform into an agile, accountable and responsive structure. With better clarity of roles and empowered ownership, it will smoothen overlapping work span and conflicting communication, besides nurturing enhanced entrepreneurial spirit amongst employees.

Balancing of hierarchical pyramid

Organizational pyramid for large IT companies has acquired a highly unbalanced shape over years. Bulging around mid-layers with stretched hierarchical chain, it urgently needs improved optimization of senior-middle-junior mix to restore a healthy structural balance and an agile posture. With curtailment of overlapping roles and redesign of job descriptions, it helps in significantly salvaging from prevailing despondency and low employee esteem arising from narrowing growth prospects. Additionally, it promises potential for significant employee cost savings[i], besides increased motivation and career growth opportunities for junior and mid-level associates.

Increased customer-focused (project) engagement

Most of IT companies have been struggling to improve employee utilization level, while facing continued cost and margin pressure, largely attributed from bulging benching level. At the same time, remaining distanced from customer engagements for a significant period, many of mid/senior associates remain less connected to the voice of customers and evolving market need patterns. To drive better customer sensitivity and consistent contribution across levels, a basic expectation setting about customer engagement (billable) or transparently accounted internal assignment (contemporary asset creation) becomes a vital necessity.

Strategic alignment and consolidation of Centre of Excellence (CoEs)

Driven by various business and operational factors, a number of CoEs and specialized practice groups have grown up across the services span of IT companies in last few years. While some of these CoEs have fulfilled larger purpose of developing strategic capabilities for new business traction, others have remained laggard to evolve with changing customer needs. Virtually running as mini organizations with anachronistic offerings, such CoEs lock significant organizational resources for sub-optimal outcome. Also, a perpetuated sense of entitlement creates dissonance with organizational priorities. It requires deeper evaluation of purpose and viability of such practices in contemporary business context towards symbiotic consolidation of resources for more focused capabilities groups.

Balancing fulcrum of remote working & global delivery models

While organizations have been framing long-term policies to support remote/ alternative working models, it needs to be more pronounced with enhanced empathy and equitability for employees. Besides emphatic focus on reducing work stress, burnout issues and enabling increased employee engagement, it would also require democratization and re-calibration of lopsided onsite-offshore model. Operating more in front-office/back-office work settings, it has historically grown with an inherent bias and disequilibrium of influence and space for onsite team causing low satisfaction for offshore team. With onsite-offshore project structure increasingly getting skewed with restrictions in visa and international travel norms, it requires more sensitive balancing of team dynamics and responsibilities sharing, besides usual cross-cultural sensitization.

Re-skilling of resources and bridging aspiration gaps

Active re-skilling, up-skilling and digital competency drive of recent period have been significantly successful in aligning available resources with market-centric skills profile. Somehow, it has thrown a surprising mismatch in the resourcing needs and aspiration of employees with re-skilled competencies. While employees have enthusiastically acquired new competencies (statistics of extraordinary digital learning hours routinely highlighted by the companies), proportionately less number of available requirements in digital technologies due to project delays and reprioritization limit fulfillment opportunities for all. It leaves aspirations of large number of associates unfulfilled. At the same time, projects with legacy or traditional technologies, ironically remain struggling to find enough skilled resources for the project needs.

Flexible and customizable work contracts

Aligning to evolving gig economy and shift in working pattern, flexible and customizable options of employee contracts with part-time, limited duration, project / subject-matter / client specific engagement constructs can be suitably designed. It will help the companies to preserve accumulated expertise while optimizing their resourcing level and cost. At the same time, it will provide employees legitimate options to pursue creative opportunities outside, while harmonizing their work-life balance need as a part of agreed contractual obligations.

[i] From a back of envelope calculation, even if a 3% of senior level and 6% of middle level overlapping roles are simplified and optimized with corresponding 9% augmentation of junior span of roles in a typical mid/large-size IT company, it indicatively provides annual employee cost savings to the tune of 12% (assuming existing structure of junior 50%, middle 35%, senior 15% with an approximate average employee cost ratio of 1:3.5: 7 for respective groups).

Disclaimer: The author is an employee of Tata Consultancy Services Limited (TCS). The opinions expressed herein are of author’s own and do not reflect those of the company.

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