How to Onboard a Developer as a Team Extension?

January 13, 2023 • 216 Views • 11 min read

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Bohdan Vasylkiv

CEO & Co-Founder

Outsourcing is not only about hiring dedicated teams. As a matter of fact, most outsourcing companies proposes also an option to hire a single software engineer instead of a whole team. Unfortunately, not all software project owners are aware of such an option. What is even more important, many employers underestimate the role of the onboarding process. Thus, we would like to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, explaining the importance of onboarding and giving a piece of advice.

What is Team Extension?

Unlike traditional outsourcing, or at least how it is usually imagined by employers, team extension is the approach, when instead of a full-fledged remote team of developers, a company hires a single development specialist. Usually, it is used as a fast solution to finding a specialist in the middle of the project development. Frankly, there may be a wide range of reasons for such a choice. Team extension is a great way to rapidly find a replacement for an employee, who left, or simply if there are not “enough hands”.

Actually, the reason for choosing a team extension is not as important. The main feature of such a service is the fact, that finding a regular in-house developer, especially in the middle of project development, can be a tough task. Thus, team extension is a great solution, when time is limited. Moreover, if you are looking for a niche-experienced developer or specialist with a very certain background and skills.

It is not a secret, that the traditional hiring process takes lots of time and resources. For instance, according to Glassdoor, it can take almost a month and approximately 4 thousand dollars to recruit a new team member. Yet, recruiting is not the end. Actually, it is just the first step of hiring. What is even more important for successful hiring is to onboard a developer. In other words, it is crucial to ensure that the newcomer will successfully integrate into the collective.

Clearly, no one wants to spend their time and resources to find a specialist, who will leave in a few weeks. In such a case, you will not only spend your resources but also will have to start the whole recruiting cycle again. In order to avoid such an unpleasant situation, onboarding takes place.

How to Integrate into the Workflow

Actually, app development integration is a complex process, which depends on numerous specifics and has a wide range of versions. For example, probably there is no need for full-fledged tech onboarding and getting familiar with the used tech stack in case you are hiring a senior developer. Yet, it is important to give at least a brief list of software, used for the project.

Despite the fact, that there are numerous examples of onboarding templates online, and probably each company has its own specified way to integrate into the workflow, we would like to give an oversimplified tutorial on how to onboard a developer to better illustrate and emphasize the most important aspects.

Bureaucracy in Advance

Hiring a new employee is always accompanied by numerous bureaucratic procedures. Thus, one of the most effective practices is to simply prepare all documents such as NDA, or other legal papers, required by the government of the country, in which you are based, before the first day of onboarding.

So, this will not only save time for your new developer, by allowing them to sign all needed documentation in one day instead of waiting for a few days or weeks, getting full access to the information. The same is true for the hardware. So, if you are providing your employees with different hardware such as laptops, various accessories, greeting bonuses, etc - make sure they are ready long before the first day of the new team member. It includes not only their presence but also configuration and settings. For example, it can be the tech stack, they are going to work with, or various software, corporate applications like VPN, internal messenger, and others. This aspect depends on your corporate policies and requirements.

Create Employee Handbook

This step is also a preparation one, meaning that must be done far before the actual employee will be recruited. The employee handbook is designed specifically to help to integrate into the workflow, giving explanations on possible questions, as well as describing general info about the company, its policies, and structure, the specifics of the project, etc. In other words, an employee handbook is kind of a Wikipedia for your developers.

Clearly, Employee Handbook is a very important tool, which will be a great assistant not only for outsourced engineers but the in-house developers as well. It will allow having all the needed information at hand.

Сreate an Onboarding Plan

Frankly, one of the most effective strategies for the successful and stressless integration of a new team member is to create an integration plan. To cut a long story short, the best way is to make it a step-by-step strategy, starting with simple and easy tasks and gradually increasing their difficulty.

Accordingly, you will not only create comfortable working conditions, allowing your trainees to integrate more efficiently into the workflow but will get a great chance to analyze their results and figure out strengths and weaknesses.

Obviously, the first day is not a working one. In other words, traditionally on the first day of work, no matter whether it is an outsourcing developer or an in-house one, they are greeted. Usually, it includes various calls and conversations with the team leads or other possible contacts, the introduction of a new member to the internal team, etc. Therefore, it helps to get to know each other and create first connections within the team.

Attach a Mentor

Attaching a mentor to the new member is also an important step. Apparently, this person must be familiar with the job. It would be even better if the mentor works on similar tasks or is assigned to the same software project. As a result, it will boost knowledge transfer and improve the overall integration process.

Honestly, no matter how experienced the developer is, it would be a challenge for anyone to join in the middle of the project. One of the most spread challenges is to get acquainted with the code itself. Indeed, it is almost impossible to write the new code without figuring out the previously written one. Combined with the fact, that probably each developer has their own programming approach and does it in their own way, code review can become a real challenge. Thus, do not rush your newcomers and give them some time to learn the previously written source code.

Having a project buddy can help to speed up this process because this person has already worked on the project, i.e. knows the code. So, the mentor can help your team extension employees to faster figure out the code basics of the software project.

Encourage Knowledge Transfer

Still, the mentor is not always the only one, who is able to help with the knowledge transfer. So, it will be a great advantage for all sides, if knowledge transfer and advising will become a part of a routine for each of your developers.

For you, as an employer, it will allow getting a more experienced team faster. At the same time, the developers will get a chance to get valuable advice or improve their knowledge easier. However, to make the knowledge transfer a systematic process, you will have to implement it into your corporate policies.

For example, in Incora, we regularly hold lectures and case studies for the whole team. The lecturer can be an invited specialist. However, we prefer giving such a chance to our team members. On the one hand, our talented developers can try themselves in a new role. Moreover, they can explain some complicated or problematic aspects in simple words. On the flip side, our employees constantly have tech onboarding, no matter if they are team extensions, newcomers, or experienced team members, who worked with us for years.

End Line

Under any circumstances, onboarding is an essential part of any work. When it comes to hiring an in-house team member, poor onboarding can result in quitting the job. At the same time, if you have chosen the team extension option, most likely, the specialist won’t be able to easily quit the task. Still, in both scenarios, successful onboarding of the newcomer is the direct interest of the employer.

If you will manage to create an efficient and detailed onboarding plan that will work - you will get a chance to boost your software development process with a faster integration of an employee and improve the overall understanding of various working principles, and corporate culture. Eventually, the final beneficiary is you, as an employer. As a matter of fact, all such procedures and approaches like onboarding were designed specifically to increase the efficiency of the development.

Summing up all the above, the onboarding process is worth considering thanks to the all possible bonuses and advantages it can bring. However, you should also understand, that onboarding won’t be effective if the hired developer is not qualified enough. In other words, pay more attention to the potential outsourcing partners, who proposes team extension service.

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