Training developers in person, then going back home

From an interview with Jeffrey Hammond and Marc Cecere on developer skills gaps. Here, the trend to training with people in person and then (slowly) going back “home”:

[Hammond:] One of the things I think you see is it– so many companies have used the words, partnering model, for years, and it’s been more or less lip service. But you do see a little bit more of a partnering and more highly tailored model. As an example, if you look at some of the projects that we see companies like a Pivotal or an IBM running these days, they may actually start in a garage that is near the organization so in San Francisco, or in London, or in New York City, but they start off-site. And the client’s developers, the client’s business personnel, go to those rooms, those war rooms if you will, and start work. Now, over time, some of that work may migrate offshore, or migrate back to the client. In the case of Pivotal, they’ll run multiple teams through their centers. Allstate is a really good example where they have I think over 100 developers and have kind of been through that process now, and they’ve drained their local talent pool. But it’s much less a, “This is the work we need to do and here’s the requirements and here’s the scope and let’s put this out to bid.” It’s much more a business transformation or a re-engineering type of project that is very high-touch. And I don’t see companies being able to do that if they’re not at least down the street from their clients and from their development shops. So I think it changes the nature of the types of engagement. I think it’s one of the reasons that you’ve seen so many of the large systems integrators buying agency talent as quickly as they can, because when you look at the sort of design experience techniques that are used, journey mapping, ethnography, those sorts of things, at least right now they still tend to be very custom – almost a manual process. You see sticky notes up on walls. You see war rooms. You see an environment that is kind of hard to capture from a remote, tool-based sort of delivery model.

Source: The Battle For Talent, Forrester

Keeping developer skills fresh

My co-worker Richard wrote up a laundry list of tactics to cultivate and maintain developer skills. It’s drawn from the tactics we’re seeing organizations put in place and a recent survey from the Cloud Foundry Foundation.

Internal events

While I used to scoff at internal brown bags and workshops, I’ve seen those be highly effective in organizations looking to buff up at their developer skills. It both transmits actually new information and shows developers that the company actually cares. Upping morale and skills is hard to beat.

Pairing

Also, it looks like the continual cross-training you get from pair programming is effective. Staff keeps up to date from the micro level of new keyboard short cuts to the big picture stuff like architectural patterns and domain knowledge. Plus, they learn and practice working together and trusting each other.

More survey findings

The developer survey that Richard kicks off with has some more interesting answers. Here’s some details from the survey:


– “By a nearly 2:1 margin, they are choosing training over hiring or outsourcing as the preferred method for addressing a shortage of skills in their own companies.”
– “We suspect that the companies further along in their cloud journey are doing more interesting things and are more risk tolerant; developers find those jobs more attractive. However, those companies that still primarily rely on legacy architectures, don’t push the envelope or are only very sluggishly making efforts toward digital transformation, struggle to hire and retain people that have the skills necessary.”
– “the majority of companies (62%) express confidence in the abilities of their developers to “keep current” with their IT knowledge and skills. At an individual level, however, only 47% of developers express confidence in their own ability to keep current.”
– “By a large percentage (60%), companies say they first adopt a technology—then upskill, train, or hire as necessary. This is preferred to selecting a new technology based on the skills already available in the company (40%).”
– “By and large, companies are addressing the shortage of skills by training or upskilling existing people rather than outsourcing (61% versus 39%) or hiring (62% versus 38%). They are making use of a variety of training methods from formal internal trainings, vendor-led trainings to informal trainings like ‘lunch-and-learns.'”
– It was done in 2016Q3, over 845 respondents in an online survey. “The survey divided respondents into four broad IT ‘roles’: Developer 30%, Operations 30%, Manager 20%, and Line of business leadership 20%.” And spread across geographies and industries.