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Global Fintech firm Pleo has boosted productivity by 40% after investing in API coaching with Skiller Whale

Pleo, the cloud-based spend management platform, has reported a significant boost to productivity from its engineering teams.  The company has been using Skiller Whale for live team coaching, to transition to a new strategy of building API-first for any new functionality.  “Fundamentally, that’s been quite a big change for the team in terms of ways of working,” Meri Williams, Pleo’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), says. “Skiller Whale coaching has meant they feel very well supported as we ask them to make the change.”

In 2022, Pleo expanded substantially: launching in 10 new countries across Europe and almost doubling its monthly active users and transaction volumes. The company also made product improvements including automated receipt handling, invoice payments, and the ability to onboard multiple entities across markets.

Skiller Whale has been working with Pleo’s 200-strong engineering team for more than a year, with sessions focused on upskilling the team’s REST API capabilities. Live team coaching provides fast, flexible learning for engineering teams, targeted to individual skill gaps to provide a strategic team-level outcome. Technology partners can achieve their objectives more quickly and efficiently, without adding to headcount. The fact that sessions are led by a live expert means participants are able to ask deep questions throughout and receive appropriate and knowledgeable answers in response.

“It’s hugely more engaging than traditional training tends to be,” Williams adds. “In tech a lot of training is either sitting watching webinars or sitting in classrooms and then feeling like you have to make the bridge back to your real work yourself. Skiller Whale sessions are so obviously linked to the team’s day-to-day work and so engaging because of the format. It’s much more participatory and just generally a much better experience for people. They’re enjoying it a lot more and learning a lot more from it. It makes people realise that a more mature approach can be just as fast and engaging, it just requires careful design around some of the new requirements.”

After 12x 60-90 minute sessions delivered every 2 weeks, Pleo’s CTO found that throughput improved by 40%, cycle time improved by 15%, and time to first review improved by 30%

The team reported significant increases in their knowledge and comfort using REST APIs. Before the coaching, less than a third (31%) of the team rated their knowledge of the correct HTTP standards in APIs as seven out of 10 or higher. After the sessions, 94% did. Similarly, only 35% of the engineers rated their ability to design robust long-lasting APIs as seven out of 10 or higher before participating in live coaching with Skiller Whale. That had increased to 88% when the team was polled again.

Moving forward, Skiller Whale will be working with Pleo to support its senior developers who are transitioning into tech lead roles. The course focuses on coaching power skills such as creating a network of collaboration and influence, stakeholder management, delivering corrective feedback, and managing delegation. Coaching in language-agnostic skills such as clean code, domain-driven design, and web security are also on the roadmap for the wider engineering team this year.