ISVs: Here’s a Practical Approach to Cross-Training

When implemented effectively, cross-training employees can significantly enhance an ISV's productivity, flexibility, and overall performance.


It’s 2023, and adaptability is the name of the game, especially in the fast-paced world of software development. A recent statistic reveals that 67% of software companies planned to increase their cross-training investments in 2023, according to Training Industry Magazine Trends 2023. This underscores the growing recognition within the industry that cross-training is not just a buzzword but a practical necessity.

When implemented effectively, cross-training employees can significantly enhance a company’s productivity, flexibility, and overall performance. It can be hugely useful, and its benefits can be maximized if done properly.

Understanding Cross-Training

Cross-training refers to the practice of teaching employees multiple skills or competencies, allowing them to perform different roles or tasks within the organization. In a software company context, it means equipping developers with a broader skill set, enabling them to work on various projects or tasks beyond their primary expertise.

Here’s a simple way to start implementing cross-training initiatives:

    1. Assess Current Skill Gaps

Conduct a thorough assessment of the current skill gaps within the team. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, as well as the areas where the company may be lacking expertise. This assessment will serve as the foundation for creating a targeted cross-training plan.

    1. Define Clear Objectives

Establish target goals for the training program. What specific skills does the team need to acquire? Proficiency in specific programming languages, tools, or methodologies? Setting clear objectives will help leadership measure the success of cross-training efforts and help align them with the company’s strategic vision.

    1. Develop Customized Training Plans

Not all employees should be cross-trained the same way. Tailor training plans to the individual needs and career goals of the team members. Consider offering both formal training programs and informal learning opportunities, such as mentorship and peer collaboration. Customized plans ensure that employees gain relevant skills and stay motivated throughout the process.

    1. Promote a Learning Culture

To make training practical, nurture a learning culture within the organization. Encourage continuous learning, experimentation, and knowledge sharing among the team. Recognize and reward those who actively engage in training activities to create a positive feedback loop that motivates others to participate.

    1. Allocate Time and Resources

Cross-training requires an investment of time and resources, so use both wisely. Dedicate time in employees’ schedules for training activities and provide access to relevant learning materials and tools. Consider partnering with external training providers or platforms to offer specialized courses that align with the training objectives.

    1. Implement Job Rotation

Hands-on experience is a practical way to apply cross-training, especially in the technology field. Allow employees to temporarily switch roles or work on different projects to give them useful experience in new areas. This approach not only enhances their skill set but also encourages collaboration and a deeper understanding of the organization’s overall operations.

    1. Measure and Track Progress

Regularly assess the progress of all cross-training initiatives. Monitor the development of new skills and the impact on project outcomes. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the effectiveness of cross-training efforts and make necessary adjustments to the training plans as needed.

    1. Provide Support and Feedback

Offer ongoing support and constructive feedback to employees engaged in cross-training. Create an environment where they feel comfortable seeking guidance and sharing their experiences. Encourage open communication to address any challenges or concerns that may arise during the process.

    1. Celebrate Success Stories

Highlight success stories within the organization resulting from cross-training efforts. Showcase how individuals have grown and contributed to projects beyond their initial roles. This not only inspires other team members but also reinforces the value of cross-training in achieving organizational goals.

    1. Continuously Adapt

The technology industry is constantly evolving, and so should any cross-training strategies that are implemented. Stay informed about emerging trends and market demands. Adapt the training programs to address the changing needs of the company and industry as a whole.

Unlocking Potential

As the statistic from Training Industry Magazine Trends 2023 reveals, a significant majority of software companies are recognizing the importance of cross-training and are investing accordingly. By assessing skill gaps, setting clear objectives, customizing training plans, and promoting a learning culture, companies can make cross-training a practical and highly effective strategy for enhancing overall success.

It’s not just about training employees—it’s about empowering them to become adaptable, versatile, and valuable contributors to the organization as a whole, ensuring its sustained growth and success in the dynamic world of software development.


Kam Kaila is President of IT By Design (ITBD). Having been with the company since 2005, Kam is ITBD’s Brand Ambassador and responsible for building the brand worldwide. She leads the company’s Community initiatives and is the engine behind Build IT, a channel event that facilitates sharing of knowledge by channel educators through templates, tools, and scorecards that help MSPs grow. Along with being a Partner of ITBD, she is the recipient of numerous accolades for channel excellence, including multiple Woman of the Channel and Power 70 accolades, and Influencer of the Year. She is a leader in providing educational content to the IT Channel at other events, webinars, and channel publications.

Kam has a double master’s degree from Rutgers University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She has been a professor at Rutgers University and Hudson County College. A mother of three, she is actively involved with her family and community work.