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Choosing the Right Drupal and Open Source Training Partner

by Mario Hernandez
April 14, 2020

Staying on top of today’s demanding web development requirements is key to ensure the success of your projects and company goals. But if you are part of an organization where work never stops and your time is spent putting out fires just to stay afloat, training may not be something you can dedicate time to.

Training is an investment and, for most people or organizations, is not something you will be able to do on a regular basis. This means if you are shopping for a training partner, it is critical you pick the right one to make the best out of your time and financial investment. Here are some key deciding factors for selecting the right training partner:

Community commitment

Choosing an effective training partner is probably the single most important decision you will make to empower your team. If an agency’s business model is solely driven by open source software, it is only fair they pay it forward by contributing to the open source community in any way that improves the products they use, sell, and benefit from. Significant company contributions to an open source community are the hallmark of a reputable long-term partner. In the Drupal marketplace, this may take the form of code contributions, documentation, community events, or mentoring. A lot can be said about an organization that invests in the product they have built a business around.

Skills and Experience

When it comes to learning, there is no substitute for experience. Learning from trainers who do what they teach on a daily basis is one of the most effective ways to learn. An experienced trainer can teach you not only how to do things the right way, but also how to approach problems when things don’t go as planned when building websites. 

A trait you will find in an experienced trainer is a willingness to help and share resources with others. Before engaging with a new training partner, take a look at their blog or their YouTube channel. See what kind of content is being generated and by whom. A great trainer enjoys writing or speaking about the technologies he or she works with and trains on. This is a good indicator you will be taught by a passionate individual who enjoys their work. You can tell a lot about a trainer by whether they are accessible and enjoy helping others through the various social channels, or if they speak and share their skills and experience at different events.  

If you have a training partner in mind, find them at events and talk to them. Attend their sessions or training workshops to get a sense for not only their skills and experience but their passion for the technology they work with and teach about. Expert content is a strong indicator that your training partner is staying on top of the latest trends. 

Track record

The ultimate goal for seeking training is to solve problems you currently cannot solve alone. So when choosing a training partner, be sure their track record shows clear evidence of supporting client success. Take a look at their portfolio. Are they helping clients in the same industry as you? Read their case studies to see how they have helped their clients overcome the challenges they faced. Chances are their clients experienced the same type of challenge you are facing. 

Here are some ways you can tell you are heading in the right direction when choosing a training partner:

  • Are they problem solvers in their approach to getting things done? You can find this information in case studies, blog posts, or webinars they conduct.

  • When solving unique problems for clients, are they sharing these solutions with the community in the way of documentation, new modules, or contrib work?

  • Do they take ownership of projects in the community? Does their public profile demonstrate the level of involvement and commitment to open source products?. This is a great indicator not only of their commitment to the community but also their commitment to their employees to give them the tools and time needed to contribute back.  Your training partner should have a track record of giving priority to giving back to open source.

No cookie-cutter

Each organization is different and therefore their training needs are different. Although there is plenty of training material out there that could be useful, there is no greater value than learning from a custom curriculum tailored to your team’s and project’s needs. What does this mean?  Ask your prospective partner if they offer custom training and what their process for customizing a curriculum to your needs looks like.

Custom training is not only about changing the content you’ll be trained around. It also means ensuring your team’s skills and experience are taken under consideration. Everyone learns differently and most likely not everyone in your team has the same skills or level of experience. How is that accounted for during training? Custom training should involve building a training curriculum around your team’s skill set and the specifics of your project(s). This way you will learn while you are directly contributing to your project. Learning while building for your project prepares your team to take over the project for future maintenance and development.

Ongoing support

Earlier I mentioned that a good indicator of a great trainer is whether they are accessible and available. This is also true for a training partner as a company. I have used the word “partner” deliberately because a true partner is always there when you need them.  I have attended training workshops myself where, after the event was over, I never heard back from the trainer or company who conducted the training. That’s not a training partner; that’s someone who is not interested in building a relationship with you like a true partner would.
Some indicators of an agency that is genuinely interested in building a long-lasting partnership with you and your organization may include:

  • Ask your training partner if they provide ongoing support after training is over. Are they available? Can you ask them questions? As I mentioned before, a true partner is interested in a long lasting partnership, not a one time sale opportunity.

  • Are they proactive in keeping you in the loop prior to training? Are they providing you information, resources and assistance ahead of training? If so, this is a partner who is genuinely interested in your success during training.

  • Do they invest in you? Have you ever attended a training workshop where it seems that you are spending a lot of time trying to fix technical issues? A proactive partner should know potential issues that may come up during training and prepare for them ahead of time. A great training partner will not only provide you with resources to get ready for your training but will also ensure you are ready for training by conducting check-ins or online calls to provide assistance if needed so that the time spent in training is not wasted on non-related technical issues. Keep in mind, not all issues may be accounted for ahead of time, but making an effort to identify them before training will give you the best chance of success during training.

  • A good training partner who is interested in your success will ensure you have all you need to run through the training and exercises on your own once training is over. They have invested their time and effort to ensure the resources available to you are not only detailed but also well-maintained even after training has passed. In addition, you should be able to reach out and ask questions regardless of when training took place. This is what a committed training partner will do.

Why should Mediacurrent be your training partner?

At Mediacurrent, our commitment to giving back to open source through written/visual content, talks, webinars, code contributions, and training workshops, is something we are passionate about. We hold a track record of ranking in the top 10 contributors to Drupal worldwide and we are proud of it. Our training workshops have been taken by hundreds of people around the United States and Europe, and we have conducted custom and private training workshops for some of the biggest brands. There is no better way to take our training services for a test drive than to attend one of our many free training workshops at a Drupal and open source event near you. This is a great opportunity to not only get quality training, but also meet the team and ask them questions. Many of our ongoing training clients have hired us after attending one of these training events and see for themselves the value and experience we can bring to their team.

Here are some of the testimonials from previous students:

This might be the best documentation materials and test instance I’ve had for any Drupal training, ever. Very well done and using Lando is a smart move too. I had zero pain setting up my local, and that might be a first.

Appreciated the advanced notice and direction for setting up the environment. I liked that there was enough information in the exercises to not fall behind if I got confused.

The documentation is superb. The course guide not only explains how to achieve the immediate goals of the training but also provides a foundation and advice on how to extend the learning more deeply.

In closing

Training is critical for the success of your team and organization, but training is not easy to come by as it can be a costly investment. The benefits of training, however, go beyond learning a new skill. Studies show that employee’s morale increases when the company they work for invests in their career development. Employee retention also increases as a result of investing in training. With that said, being diligent in researching to find the right training partner can make all the difference for the success of your team and organization. 

I came across this quote years ago and it has always stuck with me:

“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” - Henry Ford

We feel confident you will find in Mediacurrent a partner you can trust. We are here to help. Please visit our training offerings page and feel free to reach out with any questions you may have about our training solutions. 

If you are a decision maker in your organization who is not convinced whether it is worth investing in training, reach out to us. We can discuss specifics about your team or project and provide you with a roadmap for a successful learning experience.  

Mario Hernandez

Meet team member, Mario Hernandez

Mario has experience in Front End, Drupal, public speaking, and training. He is a regular speaker and trainer at tech conferences, a co-host of the Mediacurrent Open Waters Podcast, and the creator of the Component-Based Development workshop conducted at DrupalCons throughout America and Europe.

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