Pluralsight - why wouldn't you?

This is the first in a series of "why wouldn't you?" posts. These will be, to me, no brainier things to do - primarily aimed at managers of development or IT teams.

In this article, I ask "why wouldn't you" provide Pluralsight to your teams.

I'd like to stress that this article is specifically aimed at "selling" Pluralsight - rather the ROI (Return On Investment) principal of investing in developer training being a simple and easy payback. Pluralsight works for my team (both for the cost and the content it provides).

What is Pluralsight?

Pluralsight provide web based development training. You sign up, log in and get access to hours and hours and hours of pre-recorded training courses.

There are other similar online training providers, but for me I find the Pluralsight course content to fit with my development team (Microsoft stack). In honesty I believe the principals behind this post apply to similar providers (as long as the courses provide benefit to your team).

Then why is a "why wouldn't you?"

Simply put - the cost vs the trivial payback - it's a simple investment.

A single user annual licence is $299 (about £177 @ today's exchange rate). For a developer that you're paying £30k salary, you would only need them to gain 1.5 days through efficiency improvement to have gained back the cost (which I'd be surprised if any developer couldn't find that efficiency with the Pluralsight course catalog).

On top of that, it's a relatively cheap way of saying "hey, we care about your personal development - this is on us". I've also found it creates team bonding. Give your development team access and watch them emailing links and comments around on exciting courses or neat ideas.

Personally, I also think that its great to provide your staff with learning facilities on technologies that are not just restricted to your development stack. So in the case of my team, yes I want them to improve and advance their C#, SQL Server, WCF, Web API, MVC, etc - but I've no problem with them learning how to write apps for iPhone/ Android or learn a bit more about network routing. It makes them happy (a happy developer is a good thing) and encourages them to develop their career.

It costs money.

Yes it does. And believe me when I say that spending money is never easy for me. I've grown up in environments that have been exceptionally frugal with spend - and generally for the correct reason.

This has however produced in me a natural tenancy to be spend adverse.

But in this instance, I firmly believe that it makes financial sense.

When am I going to give them the time to use it?

That is one that is up to you I'm afraid.

If you allow them to use it within works time, then yes your ROI isn't as trivial as I indicated above, but personally I believe it is correct to allow your team to decide themselves what is appropriate usage. If they are coming up on a new problem or technology for a project, isn't it better for them to take a few hours on an online course rather than "hack n slash" for a couple of days re-factoring half a dozen disparate examples from the internet?

Even so, I do believe you will find your team using during lunch breaks and outside of hours. I would however stress that "forcing" them to use it outside of works hours is a de-motivator; you are simply taking their free-time away from them. I'm more of the believe that if you make it available, then they will use it.

So, why wouldn't you?

If you can answer that, I'd love to see them in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

About the author:

Mark Taylor is an experience IT Consultant passionate about helping his clients get better ROI from their Software Development.

He has over 20 years Software Development experience - over 15 of those leading teams. He has experience in a wide variety of technologies and holds certification in Microsoft Development and Scrum.

He operates through Red Folder Consultancy Ltd.