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4 Steps to Create Professional Development Plans

March 31, 2023


min read

Valentine Steph

4 Steps to Create Professional Development Plans

In this blog post, you'll find out how to create a professional development plan for software engineers and what are the key factors to its effectiveness.

The tech industry requires continuous learning, professional development for software engineering, and getting new skills and knowledge.

The most powerful and versatile tool to stimulate professional growth and provide development opportunities is to create a professional development plan (PDP) for your employees.

In our recent article, we discussed why tech companies need professional development plans for software engineers.

Now, we’ll lead you through each step to create professional development plans for your employees that will not only help the team develop skills needed at their current job, but give them professional development opportunities inside the company and significantly increase productivity of the whole tech team.


A professional development plan (PDP) is one of the best tools a company can use to ensure its knowledge workers never stall or stagnate and always keep growing professional skills and reach their professional goals, career development goals, and personal goals.

Any professional growth that occurs without a precise professional development plan will be erratic and may not help the organization that much at the end of the day. This is especially true for high-tech industries, such as software development, where new programming languages, tools and technologies appear every day.

What is included in a professional development plan?

A professional development plan contains professional development goals, emplyee's current skills and current position, growth opportunities, career goals, and actionable steps to reach these development goals, like online courses and other learning activities.

Effective individual development plans help employees get significant progress and reach employee's career goals.

Steps to create PDP

If you’re an engineering manager or a team lead, you might be wondering: how to write a professional development plan for your employees? Or what are examples of professional development?

To help you create a professional development plan and become a mentor for your tech team, we have created a framework.

Step #1. Identify career path level

At this stage, a manager should assess an employee’s skills, find potential skill gaps, and identify areas for growth and their career path level (or a grade).

To do this, you should hold a skills review for the whole team and then analyze the review report.

To identify career path levels easily and fast, we recommend using AI tools that can do it for you.

Ace AI uses Git data to define the career path level of a software engineer. See how it works in practice:

Ace AI identifies career level based on Git data
Ace AI identifies career level based on Git data

Step #2. Create a development goal

After a manager identified skill gaps and the grade of a developer, a development goal should be set.

Use Ace AI to create personalized long term goals for the whole team based on identified skill gaps in Git. Ace AI will automatically provide you with development goals after you connect Git.

Connect Git and get a development goal in Ace AI
Connect Git and get a development goal in Ace AI

Step #3. Add initiatives (tasks) to a growth plan

In order to reach the development goal, a manager creates an action plan and adds learning activities and working tasks on personal development.

To save time on the search for personalized learning activities for each developer, you can use Ace AI which gives personalized recommendations on mentors and learning activities such as online courses, books, and other resources based on their skill gaps.

See how Ace AI recommendations to organize individual professional development work in practice:

Personalized recommendations in Ace AI
Personalized recommendations in Ace AI

Step #4. Track progress

To make the process of professional development effective and implement continuous learning in your tech team’s workflow, an engineering manager should hold regular check ins meetings with team members to track the progress and adjust their growth plans if necessary.

Employees should have an opportunity to receive feedback on their skill development.

To help you with that, Ace AI writes automatic feedback for specific skills for you to save time.

Automatic feedback for skills in Ace AI
Automatic feedback for skills in Ace AI

Also, Ace AI builds automatic agenda for your 1-on-1 meeting to discuss growth plan progress based on developer updates from Git and growth plan initiatives.

Automatic agenda for 1 on 1 in Ace AI
Automatic agenda for 1-on-1 meeting in Ace AI

Key factors for successful PDP

Now you understand how to create a professional development plan (and how to hack this process with the help of AI) and integrate learning into the working processes of your team. However, there are strategies that are important to consider, in order to create a development plan that really works.

Here are the main factors of a successful professional development plan:

Factor #1. Mix working tasks and learning activities

The tasks contained within the personal development plan should offer a diverse and varied mix of educational and practical assignments taking into account professional interests of an employee.

This will allow you to easily integrate this training process into your workflow, increasing the effectiveness of the learning process and saving time for self improvement.

Factor #2. Monitoring and regular check ins

Professional development needs to be seen as a continuous process. A manager should regularly update the development plans. If an employee has successfully accomplished his/her development plan, you should create a new one.

And if the process is underway, you can amend the existing tasks and add new ones. It should not be a one-time meeting; make it regular and schedule these discussions in your calendar.

Factor #3. Don’t be afraid to rely on mentoring software

Using mentoring software, such as Ace AI, will help you keep all employee professional development and training processes on one platform, thus streamlining and optimizing this process. Moreover, it helps to unlock the potential of each team member and as a result, increases the productivity of the whole tech team and leads the company to extraordinary results.

Key ideas

  • Tech companies should invest in the talent development of their team, especially software engineers, on a regular basis, in order to increase their team productivity and keep their skills relevant to the market.
  • The stages of an effective development plan are: identifying career level, creating a development goal, adding activities to a growth plan, and regular monitoring.
  • Engineering managers can hack the process of their team’s professional skill development with tools such Ace AI. It automates the process of creating professional development plans with personalized insights and recommendations.
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