Feb 12, 2020 | 3 min read

3 Essential Steps for Onboarding Developers Successfully

By: Richard Popola

How to Run an Effective 1-Day Design Thinking Workshop

Onboarding software development teams to a new project can be tough. To have a smooth project initiation or transition, a tried and true onboarding process needs to be in place. Here are the three most important things you can do to get developers off to a great start and help them be a successful and valuable resource to the project and organization.

1. Document Everything

A big part of successfully onboarding developers to a new project is being proactive about documenting steps, processes, and all essential information. A well-organized library of developer resources and a clearly defined project management system are the building blocks of a strong foundation. Gather up all necessary information and document:

  • What existing legacy code or resources are needed?
  • What processes and procedures will the development team follow? Include things like source control, deployment, and testing.
  • Depending on the team size, consider pull request policies that could require multiple sign-offs before they’re approved.
  • Will the team follow scrum or agile methodologies? Who will be the scrum master?
  • Who will be the project manager? Who will help ensure that all requirements are met?
  • Who’s responsible for testing and signing off on quality?
  • Does the team have access to all required systems and software packages needed?

Systematically documenting the essential process and project details before onboarding will ensure a much smoother initiation or transition for everyone.

2. Communicate the Vision

When a team is about to kick-off a new project, knowing the “why” could be considered more important than the “how.” Understanding the drivers behind the effort will help build morale and cohesion in the team; it also ensures that everyone is on the same page and moving towards a unified goal.

The vision is usually set and driven by the primary stakeholder or leadership team. Bring them together with all team members; start with an overview of the project’s goal and have an open floor discussion to share ideas and collaborate.

Create thorough documentation, such as a project charter, that team members can refer back to. Include all agreed-upon vision points, the definition of done, and timelines. Plan to break up the orientation and vision walkthrough into multiple meetings, so the team has a chance to digest everything.

3. Break Down the Technical Needs

Once the “why” is established and understood, the “how” comes into play. The team gets to walk through the architecture of what they’re trying to build. Rather than getting overly technical and breaking apart every feature, the idea here is to understand the processes used for things such as source control, automated testing, and CI/CD.

Often, the development team will have preferences for the various systems and processes used. Leveraging these can help decrease the lead time needed to start producing code. If that’s not possible, there should be plenty of existing documentation and standards in place that the development team can rely on.

A solid process for onboarding developers creates the blueprint for a software team’s success. Download our project charter to help your developers get off to a great start.