Even the best developers can’t be genuinely valuable to a client team until they’ve been fully onboarded. That’s why, when anyone joins any team, a focus on onboarding is crucial.
Last year, we onboarded developers at many new and existing clients, and we added 54 people to the Distillery team. That means we’ve recently gotten a LOT of practice. Fortunately, we already had strong onboarding processes in place both internally and externally. These processes help us ensure that new team members are positioned to provide value both to our team and our clients’ teams from day one.
We are always challenging ourselves to improve our own processes, and to find ways to use our process-related experience to benefit our clients (e.g., see our recent blogs on finding the right people, processes, and tools to help your product succeed and how product owners can avoid scope creep). It’s in that spirit that we’re reposting the onboarding-focused blog below. Written by one of Distillery’s project managers, the article was first published on Distillery’s blog in early 2017.
Efficient business processes are top priority at Distillery. They help ensure delivery of high-quality services to the company’s clients. Among the business processes we’ve adopted, onboarding of developers — an organizational socialization through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to contribute to our clients’ businesses — is the first and most basic process fundamental to setting up projects for success. Therefore we approach it with maximum care and commitment.
To ensure the efficiency of the onboarding process and make sure we have all the details for providing the best developer match possible, the preparation begins as early as the lead-generating phase: from acquiring the primary information from the client and generation of the initial backlog based on the client’s needs. The onboarding process starts once we have selected the best candidate for the client based on our vast expertise in matching developers to clients. All of Distillery’s managers and technical specialists have experience working on product teams, able to research the target market, understand customers’ needs, and come up with the best solution to get businesses to success faster and more easily.
At Distillery, we believe that every phase of the onboarding process with new employees is important, starting before they begin their jobs, extending through their first months, all the way to the successful completion of their jobs. The goal is to align the onboarding process so that the new engineers can start contributing to customers’ projects within 24 hours of their assignment.
Work on the project begins with a kickoff call between our new employee and the client. We try to hold that call as soon as possible, to get the new employee familiar with the project details from the very earliest stage. The kickoff call has a wide agenda that lets us acquire as much essential information as possible, supporting seamless collaboration with the client team, fast progress, and results such as the following:
Project briefing consisting of the project’s description, purpose, current stage of development, and current problems and blockers (if there are any)
Roles and responsibilities, including making fundamental decisions on who will be doing what
Tools to be used, including workflows, coding tools, and environments to Jira, GitHub, Slack, Confluence, and other preferences
Deliverables roadmap for the project
Сommunication channels to be used for making collaboration easy and efficient
Definition of metrics that will help us determine success
Arranging of any additional resources required, such as hardware and/or software, so developers can have a smooth introduction
In this way, from the very beginning, newly onboarded developers are aware of the main project details, such as their points of contact on the client’s side and within the company for solving any organizational problems or technical issues, as well as who their teammates are. Thus, the software engineer is included in all internal and external chats and rooms, becoming part of all information streams within the project on both sides.
Once the developer is contributing to your project, our managers help facilitate communication and gather feedback to help us improve processes and address any upcoming issues early.
Want to learn more about how Distillery ensures a strong process that includes the smooth, efficient integration of our developers into our clients’ teams? Let us know!
Account Manager Tatiana Garionova has been with Distillery since 2016. After starting out as an English teacher and an English-Russian interpreter/translator, Tatiana followed her fascination with technology to a new career in IT. She began as a QA engineer, earned her project management MBA, and has been working as an account and project manager ever since. Tatiana has lived in the US, Norway, and Russia. She loves traveling (especially road trips!) and learning foreign languages, and counts herself lucky to have friends worldwide.