Training as an Investment
When you start with untrained staffers, they are not billing very many hours, and they’re also taking a lot of time from people who would be billing.
You're constantly having this feeling of, "Oh God, I don't have time to help you. I have to get my work done." You have to fight that and say, "Do you know what? Helping you is more important than getting my work done." Getting work done is short-term money. Teaching someone is long-term. You have to find the balance because you have to keep the money coming in, but everyone on your team must understand that training people up is the highest priority.
It's not just a distraction slowing you down from getting your work done. It is the whole future of the company.
On-Ramps to Success
We found a lot of different ways that we can have employees bill and learn as they are gaining experience.
One way is quality assurance, or QA. Having staff perform testing gets them in the mix of the whole project. They are moving through the tickets; they are testing everything. They are passing things up to the client.
Documentation is another task that we can have less experienced people tackle. We're lucky enough to have a client now that comes to us just for technical documentation, and writing technical documentation is something that a smart, logical, technical, college educated person can do without five years of development experience. In the process they are learning.
We have them make training materials. You don't have to be an expert to write automated tests. In the process, you get a lot more involved in the mix of a software project.
With all these brand new people, how do you make sure that quality remains high? I'm obsessed with quality; my worst nightmare is low quality work going out to our clients. But quality is all about process and communication. We’ve created review techniques that ensure junior staff members are safe to make mistakes. That review process provides constant feedback. People learn pretty quickly not to make the same mistake again.
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