In the past we had all kinds of software specialists: requirements specialists, build specialists, configuration management specialists, and test specialists. Those days are over. We are now in the age of the Full Stack Developer.
Continuous Delivery is a set of practices and technologies to deliver better software faster. The essence of CoDe is to optimize the software value chain from requirements to customer.
But how do we achieve this? How do we start delivering better software faster?
First of all, you have to form delivery teams with a mandate to take software from the requirements stage all the way to the customer. This eliminates handovers, queues, knowledge transfer costs, and local optimizations.
Secondly, you have to adopt lean practices by automating manual work and eliminating waste. With tailored automated delivery pipelines we can meet the needs of complex delivery workflows and drive delivery effectiveness.
However, increasing the scope of your team means that your team members will have to learn new skills. CoDe pipelines will involve many technologies and tools, and your team needs to understand all of them.
Our mission at Praqma is to help software organizations become more effective with Continuous Delivery. The challenge we face is that the best tools and technologies are under a constant state of evolution. How do we keep up? It’s quite simple really; we make time for learning and we make that time count.
The Praqma 80/20 rule
No consultant in Praqma is allowed to spend more than 80% of his/her time on billable work. Our customers understand this, and our employees know that learning is a central part of their job description. So, what do we do with the rest of the time?
Making 20% count
The Pareto Principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
As a consultancy company, our most valuable asset is the skills and expertise of our people. We actively need them to grow, and we want to do this in the most effective way possible.
So, we take this precious 20% of our time and concentrate on using it to improve Praqma in high-impact ways. By focusing on our overall needs we de-emphasise individual learning and look at our organization through a systems lens.
Supply and demand
Part of the process involves surveying our people on a regular basis to understand our skills landscape: what do we know, where do we know it, and where do we need to grow our knowledge.
Once we have this overview we create solutions that will improve us. These will result in forming a backlog of how to get the results we are looking for, such as:
- Creating material for training courses/workshops
- Creating meetup presentations
- Writing blog posts
- Giving/taking courses
- Needs-based research
- Other value-adding work
Then, we schedule the classes and workshops we need.
Teach the most senior technicians first
By beginning with the most senior technicians you get many positive outcomes. It demonstrates that training is not for “fixing” deficiencies but part of the journey to technical excellence. We learned this principle from our friend Olve Maudal, Minister of Knowledge at Cisco Norway.
Doing so also improves the quality and impact of the training. It gives the most experienced technicians the opportunity to give feedback on the course and contribute to making the course as good as it can be. Additionally, it creates a culture of Communities of Practice and “train-the-trainer” situations - where we can form tribes in the company that can go on to spread the knowledge to their locations and customers.
By making training and development part of our DNA, we are putting ourselves in the best position to take advantage of what the future is bringing.
While going through this, we have come to understand that we need to make the Academy open to our customers as well. We cannot complete our mission of helping software organizations if we do not bring their people along for the ride. That is why we welcome all of our customers to attend Praqma Academy.