A Guide to Internal Developer Training

- Maureen Dillon 02.12.2015


For any business owner who understands the incredible asset that a successful developer represents, the value of internal developer training should be evident too. Internal training programs are more effective than similar training courses offered by third parties outside the business. The former brings an opportunity to focus the training agenda on topics and skills that can add maximum value to the business. In effect, internal training programs can hone the developer’s productivity and effectiveness incredibly and make him/her even more of an invaluable asset to the organization. Take a look at how you can create an effective in-house training program for your employees.

Selling Your Idea to the Management

The first step is to convince the management that an internal training program can add immense value to the business as a whole. A structured plan of what you hope to do, when and how and what outcomes you expect in terms of better knowledge sharing, building cooperation among developer teams, skills coordination and more should be created. The plan gives the management a quick glance at the many reasons why they should approve and support such programs within the organization.

Choosing the Trainers

While it is a great idea to give all your developers a chance to lead from the front and take up some part of the training, this may not always be possible. To ensure that each session offers maximum value add to all participants, it is ideal to select experienced developers who have proven their skills across a number of projects with varied requirements. It is also important to pick developers who have been with the business for a while so that they have a good understanding of its corporate culture and work ethic. Of course, giving precedence to developers who can communicate easily and clearly is a good idea too so that the trainees can learn quickly and effectively.

Focus Areas for Training

Ideally, you should be training your developers in the areas where the business performance can most benefit from enhancing skills and knowledge. How do you identify these areas? A good approach is to call in senior developers and ask them to list out the major issues that have come up most often in the recent times. They should also be asked to collect data about their recent projects and share them during training so that the trainees get a clear picture of the skills they are most likely to use at present. Asking the senior developers to point out the problem areas that most commonly trip up newer entrants also gives you an indication of where your training focus should be. 

It is equally important to keep track of what is happening in your business niche and how the ongoing changes may affect the output expected from developers. Initiating training beforehand so that your developers are ready to deploy their skills to meet emerging trends in the marketplace gives your business a significant competitive edge over your peers.

Use Real Life Examples Drawn from Work

One of the biggest advantages of internal training programs is that you can align the content very closely to the actual needs of the business. To communicate the ‘lessons’ effectively and quickly you should include real life examples drawn from the business’s activities. The trainees not only learn how to handle the problem; they also get more familiar with the business itself and its typical demands in this way.

Encourage Knowledge Sharing

One of the most admirable qualities of developers as a professional group is their willingness and enthusiasm to share what they know. Leverage this quality to give all your developers a chance to learn from the collective experience and share their knowledge through the common platform of the training program. You will find that this sharing and brainstorming is often the catalyst for innovative thought processes and problem solving methods that can improve your business efficiencies incredibly.

Ensure Maximum Participation

The benefits of the internal training session can be maximized only when all of your developers are exposed the knowledge and learning. Make participation mandatory  and make sure that developers can manage the sessions as well as their work load without trouble. In fact, encourage having the sessions at approximately the same time and same day with regular frequency so that developers can plan ahead and make themselves free to attend. 

Bring off-site developers into the loop by informing their superiors of the session time and duration in  advance and requesting them to make arrangements for the  developer to participate from his/ her remote location, e.g.: via Skype. Not only do these off- site developers hone their skills through these sessions; they are encouraged to work in close coordination with the rest of the developers which is a great team building exercise.

Keep Training Simple and Fun

Lengthy tedious training sessions will quickly turn into ‘work’. That is why it is critical to plan the sessions so that they fun, easy to grasp and interesting for all the developers involved. Creating one single training session for developers with various skill levels and experience levels may be an impossible task. You can segregate your developers into three or four groups based on these parameters and design a  separate training plan for each group. The important thing is to encourage participation, involve all of the developers,  get them to ask questions and share experiences so that everyone in the group benefits from the interactions as much as the training content.

Goal Setting

Setting realistic goals makes every activity far more measurable and this is true of internal training programs too. Every training session should have a clear cut objective and the training content should be aligned toward this objective. Have goals set out  for your overall training program as well, such as ensuring that the programs give all of your developers a basic understanding of a new concept in the development arena. Keep your business goals in mind when you are determining the objectives for your training programs so that they are both in sync. 

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