Developing the Developers – A Product Unit Recipe

The core of how we develop our developers in Visma, lies with the premise that the employees drive their own career progression. With over 900 employees devoting their days at Visma’s Software SMB Division developing our products (that is 36% of the people in the division), it is important that we offer them a chance to develop themselves and to grow professionally.  

When I sat down to think about our competence development strategy, I found it hard to summarize it into one ‘recipe’. Our goal is that employees drive their own professional development and growth, with Visma providing both the resources and guidance based on each individual employee. So when thinking about our “recipe” for career development, I found that it has three main ingredients:

1. Classroom Training

Last year, we ran 36 classroom-training courses across all Product Unit locations, in which there were 575 participants. Although e-learning is changing the way we acquire new skills, our developers love getting together to engage in an old-school classroom training. Our NPS (Net Promoter Score) is through the roof for our classroom trainings with an average of 90 in 2017. In 2018, we have introduced several new training courses including;

  • Machine Learning: An introduction to the fundamentals of Machine Learning; understanding the types of data and pre-processing for purpose of machine learning and model implementation and evaluation.
  • User Research & Testing: As Visma continues to move up the rungs of our UX Maturity ladder, we need to be aware of when to involve the users of our software and how to involve them during the software development process. This course gives all the tips and tricks you need.
  • Public Cloud Training: Helping employees to understand ‘public cloud’ and how we utilize it in Visma, how to deploy and how to get a simple service up and running on AWS or Azure.

Above you can see our Public Cloud Training in Copenhagen, hosted by Vidar Hagen, Software Architect in Product Unit.

2. e-Learning Platforms

E-learning is changing the face of how human resources thinks and how we help our team to develop. We are using Pluralsight as a tool for providing online courses to our developers, providing a catalogue of courses in many different areas and technical skills. It is quick to set up, easy to use, and courses can be taken anytime at the employee’s discretion. In a recent survey, 92% of our employees said they use Pluralsight to obtains new skills or enhance existing ones. In addition, 76% said it significantly increased their job satisfaction. If this isn’t proof that employee development matters, then I don’t know what is.

“Pluralsight gives us the chance to develop and take relevant courses and I like that the employees gets the responsibility to choose the pace and content” 

Hilde Telle Hoel, Senior Software Developer.

Currently, we are also developing an internal solution for delivering courses digitally, and this will help us increase the reach of our existing classroom courses. Watch this space.

3. Knowledge Sharing Forums & Conferences

In Product Unit, we love sharing! This is why we run a range of knowledge sharing forums and conferences. This includes an ‘R&D Forum’ held every 4-6 weeks, where the employees share knowledge about what they’re working on, new methodologies and technologies that will continue to improve our software. This is complimented by our Google+ Community, the ‘Product Unit Grapevine’, where employees are sharing work related knowledge (and some informal fun!) every day, in addition to other tools such as Flowdock and Confluence.

“We have several initiatives in order to increase our employees competence. For most competence areas we have specific guilds, like Infrastructure Engineer Guild, Software Testing Guild, Security Guild just to name a few where employees share knowledge, tips and tricks from their daily work”

Mili Orucevic, Team Manager

The largest and most successful knowledge sharing event we have is the ‘Product Unit Developer Days’ or ‘PUDD’. This is a conference, held every 18 months, in which all product development employees in the Software SMB Division come together. In September 2017, 800 of our employees came to Berlin  where we had 9 keynote speakers, 42 internal speakers and various breakout sessions. This was a knowledge sharing paradise, where employees shared their knowledge and helped each other grow and develop.

“I am quite new at Visma and naturally I have learned a lot in the past year. PUDD was one of my highlights so far. One thing that stuck with me is the opportunities to automate security testing”

Michal Rawluk, Software Developer

Here is our opening video from our PUDD conference:

Visma’s Product Unit is a collection of 900 Visma employees, who’s key focus is on developing our products for the small and medium businesses market. With employees dispersed across Europe and consisting of more than 30 nationalities, we are a big international organization. We are always looking for new talented colleagues to come and develop alongside us. Check out our open positions here.