Friday, 30 August 2019 13:10

Pluralsight enables upskilling at Intrepid Group

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Travel company Intrepid Group's experience with the Pluralsight learning platform was so positive that the company has significantly expanded its use, business systems development manager Ryan Warrener told iTWire.

Intrepid Group has been a Pluralsight customer for a couple of years, he said, but has significantly expanded its use during the last four months.

"We had such a great experience" with a team of around 20 people working on enterprise systems that Pluralsight licensing was extended to customer-facing and service operations staff.

New staff are directed to materials relating to the specific products they will be using, and beyond that each employee is allocated a certain amount of learning time each month, typically around 5% of their working hours. They are free to pick topics that seem relevant, but are expected to then present what they have learned to their colleagues.

"We're always learning," said Warrener. It helps keep people interested, and finding applicable technologies should deliver business benefits over the longer term.

This approach allows the company to, for example, hire .Net developers and upskill them to React (a JavaScript library for building user interfaces) through a combination of knowledge sharing by existing staff and Intrepid-created channels of Pluralsight content.

Rather than trying to hire people who know all the technologies you use, you can focus on the most important skills and bring the successful candidate up to speed on the rest, Warrener observed.

Pluralsight's content is also good for just-in-time training. If a developer needs specific knowledge for the next part of a project, that becomes part of the sprint. Just-in-time training "goes hand in hand" with Agile and Scrum, he said. This is in marked contrast with the waterfall approach which "assumes you know everything upfront."

Another advantage of just-in-time training is that it allows the new knowledge to be applied quickly, which helps with retention.

Before this approach to training was adopted, adding something like React to the technology stack would have been a significant issue, and enough of an upheaval that some people would leave the company.

Some Pluralsight courses have made a big difference at Intrepid. Some user experience content was "very valuable for a particular project" as it revealed several mistakes that had been made when the user interface was designed.

But Warrener realises that predominantly video-based learning isn't right for everyone or for all situations, so he does budget for some face-to-face training.

Intrepid's use of Pluralsight is more about individuals filling their knowledge gaps rather than requiring them to study particular pieces of content. This helps teams become more self-reliant, he said. Warrener sees it as a partnership between the company and its staff. While there is an expectation that people will keep the corporate roadmap in mind when deciding what to study, the company realises that it is unlikely that an employee will stay at Intrepid for the rest of their career - "though my retention is high," he emphasised. Keeping up with the latest technology is good for the business and good for the individual when they decide it is time to move on.

Disclosure: The writer attended Pluralsight Live as a guest of the company.

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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