The constraints for the roadmap to WordPress Engineering in an Agency environment Defining the constraints of the problem space

The types of constraints for this Roadmap

skagway representing constraints

Circumstantial

There are two kinds of constraints I’d like to discuss in this series. The first kind is circumstantial and external to the learning process and often out of your control. They act like barriers to learning.

The circumstances for this roadmap will be different for different kinds of trainees. In the real world, there are only two kinds of people who usually join a learning activity and formally learn WordPress:

  1. New recruits in a WordPress agency.
  2. Full time professionals (mainly freelancers) looking to level up.

I have never seen someone learn WordPress like they learn Java or .NET at institutes like NIIT. That kind of awareness and demand for WordPress learning just isn’t there in the market and won’t happen for at least a couple more years.

I have never seen experienced agency employees get into training. At least some of the agencies that I know of, usually can’t afford to pull existing employees out of production and make them go through a training process.

Deliberate

The second kind we’ll create deliberately. It’s like a boundary or limit, to discipline the learning process. Otherwise the roadmap can quickly get out of control, take too much time or not be effective.

In this particular post, we’ll discuss the circumstantial constraints in an agency environment. In the post that’ll follow, we’ll discuss the constraints for freelancers. I’ll discuss the second type of constraints that help in making the roadmap effective in yet another post.

Circumstances in an Agency

Co-working

Self-learning is default

In my experience with Indian agencies, they usually don’t feel that they need to take responsibility of making sure that effective learning takes place. Partly because they aren’t educators well-versed with training methodologies. Mainly because it is easier and more cost-effective for a business to place complete responsibility of effective learning on the employee.

So, most of the training plan (if there is one) is basically designed as a self-learning activity with links, books and tutorials. Also, training is a one-time activity in a developer’s life in an agency. It only happens when you join in.

Available formal training is expensive

There are formal training courses for WordPress but they are priced keeping the market in US and Europe in mind. Globally, the demand and perceived value of such courses is high and agencies actually assist learning by sponsoring such courses or organising training. So, even if an Indian agency would want to do something like that, the ROI is too bleak.

Trust issues

Finally, mutual trust between employers and employees in India is still broken since the whole system (and our society at large) still follows feudal/colonial thoughts of servitude not the proper capitalistic thought of honest value exchange.

The overall effect then is that only new employees are put through a training program. This training program is not designed by professional educators. So, it is usually not optimised for effectiveness and the complete onus of learning is on the employee. Thus, unless the employee is a great self-learner and the quality of the program is extremely high, the chances of effectiveness isn’t much.

If you are a decision maker in an agency and reading this, I’m guessing you realise the value that an effective training program for your employees can add to your profits. If you know a decision maker, do me a favour please and ask them to read this series.

Constraints in an Agency

So, in an agency the constraints that I see are, as follows:

  1. The roadmap will most probably be just a one-time activity. As an educator, to me this constraint the means that any such program must include unstructured problem solving and learning strategies so that even when the roadmap is complete, learners can continue using these strategies for life long learning.
  2. The agency will most probably provide little to no professional instructional assistance or support in completing the roadmap. There are usually no qualified instructors to conduct supervised sessions. Even if there are, the time they can give would be limited to one or two hours per day. To me, it means that such a roadmap should not depend on classroom instruction.
  3. The trainee will be able to learn full-time but the roadmap has to be as short as possible. Agencies usually have a probation or trial period at the end of which they need to evaluate if continuing to employ the developer makes sense to the business. Such a probation period is usually one or two months, so the roadmap needs to be completed before that.
  4. The results of the training should be demonstrable and measurable so that it can help agencies make such a hiring decision at the end of the roadmap, or even better, at every stage of the roadmap.
  5. Trainees should be able to start working in production as soon as possible. To me, this also presents an opportunity to work around the duration constraint. If a trainee is able to start working in a production environment before the roadmap is complete, there can be a longer roadmap. During later stages of the roadmap, the learner can divide their time between learning and working on live projects.

So, now we have a couple of constraints on the roadmap, in an agency environment. In the next post, I’ll discuss the constraints in a freelancing environment.

What do you think?