Building a Training Program with Flywheel

Omaha has incredible software development talent but the average technical stack differs from Flywheel's environment. Flywheel worked with Unabridged to build a training program that helps developers translate their skills to work efficiently in Ruby and Rails. On top of building a rock solid Ruby course, Unabridged incorporated input from our team to include Flywheel specific design patterns that differ from a standard Rails environment. New and existing Flywheel engineers went through the training, and the success was immediate. Multiple engineers with Java backgrounds had immediate impact on the teams they joined and were deploying code in short order. We look forward to continuing our engagement with Unabridged for ongoing training.

Tommy Vacek
Vice President of Engineering

About Flywheel

Flywheel provides a platform for designers, agencies, and companies to manage their WorPress sites, as well as a suite of tools for related needs, and is considered one of the best managed WordPress hosting providers out there. Even though they work with WordPress hosting, most of Flywheel's code is written in Ruby and Ruby on Rails. This year, Flywheel set some fairly ambitious hiring goals to keep up with their growth in business.

Unabridged Collaboration

Flywheel anticipated increasing their rate of hiring software developers this year to keep up with business, and noticed two trends. First, as their team grew they were having a harder time finding developers who already knew Ruby and Rails. Second, they felt like they weren't doing as good a job as they could supporting new hires who were transitioning from other languages. Like most companies, the de facto training process was for new hires to join a team and do their best to figure it out as they went along.

Fortunately, Flywheel has always been in the practice of hiring good engineers and good people, but anticipated needing a more structured approach to keep up with their rate of hiring and to help existing employees grow into being ready for new roles. They weren't sure how to proceed with that, and so approached Unabridged about a partnership based on the teaching backgrounds of Unabridged's staff.

Unabridged and Flywheel worked together to identify places where new hires, particularly those coming to Ruby and Rails from other technology stacks, have often needed additional support, as well as a list of concepts and tools that were crucial to Flywheel (and that sometimes differed from common Ruby and Rails practices).

From that list, Unabridged created curriculum, wrote a textbook with practice problem sets, and led instruction for a two-week class of new and recent hires. The students were able to focus just on transitioning to the new tech stack and tooling and complete projects to solidify that understanding. At the course's end, participants received a comprehensive evaluation from the course instructor (along with notes on how to continue growing), then returned to their teams.

Flywheel reported the following observed outcomes in the two weeks after the course finished:

  • Back-end developers transitioning from Java were able to complete and deploy complex changes within a few days. Those developers estimated that without the training it would have taken a few weeks to achieve the same.
  • Front-end developers who had less experience with Ruby and Ruby on Rails (and more experience with HTML, CSS, and Javascript) reported being more able to make sense of the back-end and make necessary changes, rather than needing to wait for a back-end developer to help them.
  • More junior employees had a much stronger grasp of Ruby and its patterns, particularly the more complex language features like lambdas and modules, at the end of the course than they did going in.

At the end of this process, Flywheel has a much more concrete starting point for training developers (either new hires or folks who are just tackling new responsibilities), particularly those making a transition from other tech stacks, as well as for assessing where a given developer's skills are. And Unabridged and Flywheel have a tested, successful process for both conducting more trainings of this type and building new training in response to needs.

Five people running up a hill

Looking to more effectively onboard new hires or train your existing teams? We'd love to talk.

Let’s build quality software together