The Joy of Downtime: Life on the Bench
What is the bench, anyway?
Most consultancies have a concept of a bench — it’s how we refer to consultants who aren’t currently staffed on a project. Most people land on the bench eventually, whether for a few days because an engagement finished mid-week, or for longer while they’re onboarding on a new project with some lengthy background checks. In a dynamic organization like Customer Success at Appian, where clients or partners could need our support at short notice, having a pool of people ready and raring to go lets us scale up our capabilities quickly.
So how do you spend your time?
Pretty much universally, the first few days on the bench are spent decompressing. The last few weeks of a project typically consist of racing to squeeze as much functionality into the release as possible, with the occasional late-night deployment or last-minute bug fix thrown in there for good measure. So when your calendar is suddenly cleared of meetings, it’s a great opportunity to catch your breath, unwind, and relax for a few days.
Of course, there comes a time when you start itching to be productive again, and there’s plenty of scope for that at Appian. The bench is a great opportunity to catch up on training, and there’s a wealth of continuing education resources available. You might focus on product training, like the recently-released RPA training course, or you might take advantage of Appian’s Tuition Reimbursement policy and gain an external certification like the Certified ScrumMaster course, with all costs paid for by the company. There are also plenty of opportunities to contribute to the wider CS department, such as by updating shared components, maintaining Appian plugins, or refreshing our internal documentation.
There are also opportunities to contribute outside of CS, whether by getting involved with AppianLife or by working cross-departmentally. The great thing about working at Appian is we run most of our business processes on the Appian platform, so it’s frictionless to start contributing to our internal infrastructure. For example, while on the bench in February I put together a new application and internal process that lets Affinity Groups run fundraising campaigns for charities they care about. AppianPride is using the app to celebrate Pride Month this year, and it’s been a great way to engage members and allies, and to track all our progress in one place.
Everyone needs some time to decompress between busy times, and the bench is a perfect opportunity to explore other aspects of the Customer Success role in a more relaxed environment. You can assist other departments and drive meaningful change, with a focus on either your own professional development, or on contributions to the company as a whole. You start to realize just how much impact you can have across different functions, initiatives and projects — it’s a really exciting aspect of a career at Appian!