A Comprehensive Software Developer Onboarding Checklist 2023: Essential Steps for Success
A Comprehensive Software Developer Onboarding Checklist 2023
Software development is an important industry in Europe, with many companies located throughout the continent. One key aspect of running a successful software development team is the onboarding process for new developers.
But many companies make the onboarding process challenging for developers with exhaustive learning schedules. In fact, according to a recent survey, 75% of new developers reported feeling stressed or anxious during their first few weeks on the job. This process can have a major impact on the productivity and success of a team, so it is important for companies to get it right.
In this blog, we’ll provide you with a proper developer onboarding checklist and some best practices with tips and tricks. We’ll also share a developer onboarding template for your convenience.
What is developer onboarding?
Developer onboarding ensures that new developers quickly become familiar with the company operations and culture, as well as understand their duties and the tools necessary to help the team achieve its objectives. The process provides a smooth transition and sets a strong foundation for future success.
Why developer onboarding is important
As a software developer, the onboarding process can be overwhelming. There are many tools, technologies, and processes to learn, and it can be difficult to know where to start. To help streamline the process, it's helpful to create a checklist of tasks and goals to complete during the onboarding period. This checklist can include items such as setting up a development environment, learning the company's coding standards and processes, and completing any necessary training or certifications. By following a checklist, new developers can ensure that they are properly equipped to hit the ground running and start contributing to the team as quickly as possible.
Getting Started With Pre-Onboarding
Friendly follow-up/ Welcome Letter
A lot of us do not realize that onboarding starts before the candidate is actually joined. The first thing you need to do is conduct a friendly follow-up. A small call or a greetings letter to let them know that you are looking forward to have them on the team. You can also ask them what dev setup they need or any specific thing they might require. Besides, confirm the joining date, let him know what he can expect in the near future, and if there's anything else about the company you want to share, now is the perfect time.
Nothing kills the excitement of a new hire more than endless paperwork. That’s why before the candidate joins the company, try finishing as much paperwork as possible. You can send the most important papers to sign electronically via email, like enrollment benefits, verifications, and company-specific papers. It lessens your and the candidate's burden.
Like the friendly follow-up, a short personal meeting can make a significant difference. Here, the candidate can share any question he is having and clear any doubts. You can also share what to expect on his first day: entry time, dress code, any particular rules, etc.
Give access to tools and software
Before the candidate comes on board, give them access to the necessary tools and software. It can depend on the equipment you use in your company. Prepare the keys, access card, parking permit, and credentials for communication tools. Some of the common developer onboarding tools are Gmail, Github, Slack, Asana, Jira, etc.
Onboarding Software Developers: Day 1
Introduce them to the team
The first day of onboarding is always important as it represents the image of your company. Start by introducing them to your team. New hires always lack confidence. You should initiate breaking the ice with a simple message in Slack #general channel or in the stand-up meeting.
Let them know their peers and share each other experiences. You can start with a fun session by asking some random questions. For example,
What was the first impression of the company?
Where were they born? Where do they live?
What do they like about programming?
What’s their role?
Introducing them to their background, interest and interesting facts help them blend into the team quickly.
Give them a tour of the company
The first day on the job is always challenging; especially when it comes to workspace navigation. As a result, you should include a company tour on your onboarding checklist.
Assist the new hire in navigating the workplace with confidence. Give them a tour of the most important areas first. For example, a new hire's desk, meeting room, photocopier, rest room, washroom, and so on. Further, show them how to use the coffee machine. Developers, you know, can't function without coffee.
Assign a mentor
New developers always find it intimidating to know who to turn to if they have questions. Assuming they'll figure it out on their own is a bad idea. Therefore, assigning a mentor on the very first day can help the new bees understand and solve their queries clearly. It is considered one of the developer onboarding best practices.
A mentor is like a pillar for a new dev. So he should be the most experienced person. A mentor can not only warmly welcome a new developer to the team, but also assist with project guidelines.
Set Day-to-Day Expectations
From the very first day, set daily expectations for the new developer. Give him a clear picture of what you expect of him today, tomorrow, next week, next month, and in three months.
You can start with simple bug fixing, idea generation, report-making, or any spillovers, so he can feel comfortable on his own to get out of the bubble and get going.
Software Developer Onboarding: Week 1
Introduce the company
The new hire already knows something about your company from the job description, or you have already shared some information. However, his curious mind wants to know more about the company, its culture, values, vision, and mission. In the first week, you can share the company's background, how it was formed, what your goal is, etc. You can even share any documentary video or presentation if you have one. This way he can align his own goals with the company's goals and work ahead.
Introduce the products and services
Now that you've discussed your company, it's time to focus on your product, service, and clients.
Remember to be precise before you begin dumping information on the new developers; don't overwhelm them with too much information. They'll get to know the product or service while working on projects. So, get right to the point about what your service is all about and how to align your thinking with the clients'.This way, devs can easily identify the role they are working on.
Assign a Buddy
This is a must-include point that should be added to your software developer onboarding checklist: buddy assignment. No matter how competent new developers are, adapting to a new work culture, understanding tasks, meeting deadlines, and aligning with the goal are difficult. Thus, to decrease the load, a buddy can be the best solution.
A buddy should be someone whom developers can easily reach out to and talk to with their minds open. In this case, a junior developer would fit just perfectly. Junior developers who have just finished their onboarding process and know how to deal with certain situations can help new developers navigate through different situations and problems. Meanwhile, they’ll get a chance to try out their leadership skills.
Arrange Weekly 1-on-1 Meetings
You should include weekly one-on-one meetings in your developer onboarding template. By doing so, you can stay in the loop regarding the weekly progress, the team's activities, outstanding tasks, completed goals, etc. The progress of the new developers on their weekly tasks is also visible. You may learn where difficulties are occurring for new developers and what you can do to fix the issues.
Familiarization with work processes
The goal of onboarding is to acquaint new developers with the workflow. That's why, a mentor should help the new devs learn the work process, what software, libraries, or tools the team used, and how to get aligned with the project.
Therefore, provide the devs internal documentation, development tool usage, how to fix bugs, a project's breakdown, the code check process, etc. Let the devs explore the work process and understand team coordination. Besides, arrange a session to solve all the questions.
Software Developer Onboarding: First Month
By now your developers are settled in and understand the work process. It’s time to give them some legit tasks rather than reading only documentation. It’s time to get their hands dirty.
Set up a project for them
It's true that without sharpening the coding skills of the developer, you don't feel like assigning any coding tasks. However, the only way to improve coding skills is to practice.
Therefore, you can assign less sensitive tasks that require no hard coding, for example, any bug fixing, any specific code copying and pasting, et cetera. Of course, this should be done under a mentor's supervision.
Developers will feel more confident handling projects this way. Also, build an intuition to act upon command.
Set Up Pair Programming Sessions
The first month’s biggest focus should be pairing programming sessions. Here, two programmers will work on the same code on the same computer. The objective is to get developers accustomed to how to code and your company's coding style.
There are basically four types of pair programming. You can try them out and see which one works best for your new developers.
Driver-Navigator: In this process, one person will write the code while the other only watches and gives advice. This role will shuffle regularly. This method works best for experienced-to-naive or experienced-to-experienced pairings.
Tour Guide: In this process, one person will write the code and explain each step at the same time to the other person. This process works well between experienced and naive partners.
Ping-Pong: This method involves coders exchanging ideas and making suggestions to each other in order to come up with new solutions. This one works well between experienced pairs.
Interdependent pairing: This pairing method involves an experienced coder instructing the naive to write code without asking questions, even if he doesn't understand why he is doing it. Once the full code is finished, the naive programmer can ask all the questions he has. Setting aside the complex functionalities, this method improves learning efficiency.
Onboarding software developers: 90 days
Typically, the onboarding of a developer takes three months. During this time, the company decides whether the individual is qualified to join the team and vice versa.
When providing feedback on the new developers, colleagues can provide the most relevant input. They spent 90 days working with the candidates. They know where developers struggled the most—where they worked efficiently, with what coding style, with interpersonal skills, and so on.
You can speak with each coworker one-on-one or create a questionnaire for them to fill. Try to find out the most appropriate answers. For example, is it enjoyable to work with the individual; what are their strengths and weaknesses; how do they communicate; and so on?
Summing up developer onboarding results
Once you've taken all the possible feedback and collected the data from the last 90 days, it's time to sum up the software developer onboarding process. To make a decision, schedule a final meeting with the team leaders and talk about the most important points. For example, assess developers' accomplishments, productivity, and overall work. Further, ask the mentor what he thinks about the individual, his impressions, management, collaboration, etc.
Longer term goals and continuing support
Once the initial onboarding period is complete, it's important to continue providing support and guidance to new developers to help them achieve their long-term goals. This can include offering opportunities for continued learning and professional development, such as attending conferences or workshops, taking on challenging projects, and working with more experienced developers. It can also involve providing ongoing support, such as regular check-ins with mentors or managers, and creating a culture of collaboration and feedback within the team. By providing ongoing support, organizations can help new developers continue to grow and succeed in their careers.