How to Onboard New Developers — A Complete Checklist for 2023

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled by CompTIA indicates that the employer job postings for tech or IT roles reached an all-time high of 623,627 sometime this year, followed by new hiring in software development. What’s more, tech-driven companies in various industries can onboard as many as 22,800 talents within a month.

new developer onboarding process

However, hiring is one thing, onboarding is different altogether. How you do it determines whether you’ll retain the new employee and get the most out of them. That said, here is a complete guide for onboarding development teams in 2023 and beyond. Keep reading to stay updated.

Pre-Onboarding Process: Crucial Points and Pitfalls

It helps if you take time to get prepared in advance before the material day, otherwise you’ll have a bad developer onboarding experience due to last-minute rushing. At this stage, you do all the necessary administrative work before setting up a meeting date to ensure that all systems are go. Typically, you should:

Prepare All the Necessary Paperwork

Your process of how to onboard new developers should start with documentation. For instance, you should prepare a developer onboarding template solution that highlights clear steps and tasks to improve the whole process significantly. Most importantly, make sure that you prepare and send all documents that employees might need to fill in electronically to create a seamless developer onboarding experience when they report for the first day.

A crucial developer onboarding document that you should prepare in advance is the employment form, which confirms that the talent has been indeed hired. Other developer onboarding documentation includes:

  • Verification forms
  • Enrollment benefits
  • Non-disclosure agreements

Prepare and Test Any Development Equipment 

In most cases, projects and software companies provide tools and equipment to team members, whether they’ll be fulfilling their roles remotely or in-office. Since most of these tools are custom-built and come in parts, it will help if you place the order in advance to get time to assemble and test it as part of a new developer onboarding process. Typically, this should happen as soon as your new tech team confirms offer acceptance.

Grant Access to Developer Onboarding Tools

Top-tier innovative software for project coordination would be useless if your newly hired developers cannot access and use it. That said, you should grant access to all remote developer onboarding tools before the first working day to ensure that everything works as intended. Most importantly, grant access to any internal resource or database that shares your typical work processes on a day-to-day basis.

Work Out Any Logistics

Working out the logistics in advance might be necessary if you are onboarding remote developers, especially if they are going to use custom hardware or equipment to fulfill their daily roles. In that case, it will help if you order this and ship the same to the physical home address of the new employee, alongside basic handling instructions.

Send a Welcome Package 

Your how-to onboard a new software engineer checklist should include a welcoming package that makes them feel like they are a part of your brand and team from the word go, whether they’ll be working remotely or from the office.

A typical welcome package before the developer’s first day at work can include:

  • An introductory letter from the team or product manager
  • Personalized gifts, such as a coding handbook
  • Company branded merchandise, such as notepads

Key Onboarding Role to Set Up an Effective Dedicated Development Team

Perhaps the most critical role for setting up and onboarding a reliable dedicated development team is the People Partner or Human Resources (HR). The HR gets involved with the new employees, right from the initial communication, inviting them to take the interview. However, the primary role of HR is to present and explain job information to the new recruits. The HR explains:

  • Company culture
  • Payroll forms
  • Work environment policies
  • Employee benefits

Four Phases of Developer Onboarding Process and Mistakes to Avoid

The real process of onboarding new developers starts when they finally report to work and are ready to execute their first project. This process is lengthy and varies from one company or project to another, but can be segmented into four main phases, including:

First Day at Work: How to Adapt Successfully a New Software Engineer

Your checklist on how to onboard a new software engineer should include a day-one guideline that focuses on helping the talent familiarize with the project, and company culture, as well as other team members. If the new employee will be working in-office, this day should start with a full tour of the company. In the case of hybrid or full remote companies, this can be replaced with a virtual tour.

Another critical thing to do is to introduce the software engineer to the expectations of their roles, which might include assigning a mentor to them. The hire’s mentor will come in handy to answer any questions and help the new member get used to the existing team.

First Week: Project, Product, and Client Introduction

One meeting isn’t enough for new employee orientation. Throughout the first week, you would want to introduce the new hire to the project in detail, product, as well as the type of clients that you deal with. Flaunting industry-leading happy clients to your new team, will keep them thrilled and motivated to finish the developer onboarding plan and start working as soon as possible.

On top of that, you should issue onboarding documentation for local development to give an in-depth insight into the working processes. Unlike day one, team members should now get hands-on with company-specific coding practices before letting them hop onto a project at full steam.

First Month: What Needs to Be Done to Motivate and Retain the Best Talent

Your priority throughout the first month of onboarding development teams should focus on motivating them to keep up their day one enthusiasm and retain them for as long as possible to focus on development instead of hiring. The new hire’s mentor will now help the employee participate in the active building instead of just observing other development teams from a distance.

Besides assigning low-risk coding tasks as part of the software developer onboarding process, you should also facilitate upskilling training to boost their confidence. This should be followed by setting a one-on-one meeting in the course of the month to comment on their progress and give personalized feedback. However, you should share the performance review meeting date in advance so that the new employee can attend well-prepared, with questions to ask. Consider here how much does it cost to train a new employee

Motivation meetings can be held and chaired by the team lead in case you want to make it formal, with regard to code quality and job satisfaction. However, to create a friendly and free ambiance, the new hire’s mentor can handle the meeting, especially when discussing future plans, concerns, or even work-life balance.

The First 90 Days: Important Steps in Adapting a New Software Developer for a Long-Term Collaboration

A typical developer onboarding guide extends beyond issuing a simple employee handbook and assigning the first coding tasks. Ideally, the first 90 days are critical in ensuring that the newly hired developer is comfortable and all their intricate questions are answered. Typically most developers will shy off from asking questions during the first week or month because they are relatively new and know nothing about your company.

Besides giving developers more room to ask questions, a prolonged onboarding process of up to three months helps you assess whether the talents can now assume bigger responsibilities without relying on their mentors. It also helps you gauge whether they are proactively engaged with the company.

Best Practices for Onboarding Developers in 2023

A software engineering onboarding process or that of any other tech talent can be pretty daunting, especially if you have spotted the best talents and would want to retain them for a long-term corporation. Here are some developer onboarding best practices to help you get started.

Standardize the Process for All New Recruits

Your developer onboarding guide should be standard to ensure that all new recruits are treated the same and that no one gets preferential treatment. For instance, all employees should be assigned a mentor. At the same time, all opinions should be listened to and comments given, even if implementing them is going to be nigh impossible during onboarding.

How your handle the employees from the word go says a lot about their future in that company. Remember, the goal is to make them feel like they are part of the company or project from the start, as well as feel comfortable around the team lead and voice innovative opinions without the fear of being discriminated against.

Leverage User-friendly Developer Onboarding Tools

The goal of the onboarding process is to help new recruits get assimilated into the company culture and work on their first project as fast and seamlessly as possible. A good experience that can help you achieve this is by starting with user-friendly developer onboarding tools. For instance, a tool with progress indicators can motivate the new employee to finish the remaining steps.

You would also want to adopt an innovative developer onboarding software that is bug-free and runs optimally on multiple devices. That means new recruits can simply plug in and start their journey from the comfort of their current device. Also, you can automate the whole developer onboarding documentation on a single platform to create a seamless experience from day one.

Prioritize a Swift Onboarding Speed

Inasmuch as you want to be thorough with your new developer onboarding process, the faster you finish it the sooner the teams can get hands-on and execute a time-bound project. Moreover, the longer the process, the higher the risk of some talents dropping out, even before you set the review meeting date to gauge their performance. At the same time, a shallow onboarding process can mean subpar performance from the developers when you finally assign tasks, whether big or small projects.

With that in mind, it will help if you balance the speed and depth of the plan. For instance, you can deploy the onboarding platform with the reading list link simultaneously to ensure that the process is thorough but moving at a relatively fast speed. Alternatively, you can embrace a hybrid onboarding experience so that online and in-office tasks are handled simultaneously as well, to enhance the whole developer onboarding experience.

Do Away with Informational Siloes

Many documents are involved in a typical remote developer onboarding plan, to make the hire’s first experience as seamless as possible. However, information in these documents might not be as useful as much, especially when new employees have to access them from different systems, apps, repositories, or even web pages. The likelihood is that they will disengage as soon as they find the process cumbersome.

Instead, consolidate all documents, including how-to guides, best practices, and manual handbooks to make them accessible from a single point. Even better, you can create an end-to-end digital experience through an onboarding app, or by generating a primary list link for all educational materials.

Measuring Onboarding Performance

Finally, it will help if you measure performance to determine the effectiveness of your new developer onboarding process. One way of doing that is by sending out surveys to team members for high-level assessment at different onboarding phases. This allows you to gather feedback at every stage, which is critical in streamlining the whole plan, as far as role execution and retaining are concerned.

Paying attention to minor concerns raised about your developer onboarding plan has long-term effects, such as reassurance. For instance, an employee won’t hesitate to give opinions on how to improve the product if their first opinion at the company was listened to and acted on accordingly.

How Onboarding of Different Levels and Specialization of Developers Differs 

Before preparing a checklist on how to onboard new developers, it’s worth noting that the process differs at various stages for every talent, depending on seniority, and area of specialization. Here is how they differ.

Front-end Developer

The role of a front-end developer in your remote team is to ensure that your web product visitors have a good user experience by leveraging intuitive design, technology, and bug-free code. A front-end developer’s onboarding process might include undertaking various first-time roles in small projects to test their in-depth understanding of Angular, React, Vue.js coding technologies.

Backend Developer

Backend developers focus on everything else that is not visible from the customer’s front end, including data storage and security features. With that in mind, the process of onboarding talents for this role can be lengthy and thorough. For instance, the first few months may focus on inculcating company policies and measures on cybersecurity or training them on the organization’s data storage and processing mechanisms.

Full-stack Developer

The roles of a full-stack developer cut across both the front-end and the backend. The onboarding process for this talent is more in-depth and often takes longer. This is because the developer might need to spend time with multiple teams, starting from development & testing, to business analysis in order to understand his expectations, as well as the company culture. Full-stack developers may also take upskilling courses on version control and custom web hosting.

Senior Developer

Unlike other developers, a senior developer’s onboarding guide is tailored to groom them for managerial or supervisory roles during the entire project. In most cases, a senior developer will be the team lead to encourage innovation and bring in expertise aspect. That said, the onboarding process for a senior developer focuses more on inculcating leadership, upskilling innovation, and workshops or seminars for team management.

Middle-level Developer

Middle-level developers are usually at the epicenter of the project, fulfilling various technical tasks, such as writing clean code, and implementing best practices to optimize processes, resources, as well as costs. Adapting this talent means taking them through thorough onboarding documentation for local development, to inculcate your product’s coding styles, principles, and best practices.

Junior-Level Developer

Junior-level developers are technically assistants and their main role is to fulfill tasks assigned by senior team members, as well as learn from them. In most cases, their work will be to review bag reports, write basic code, or even gather user feedback. A successful onboarding process for this talent includes assigning a mentor to help them settle in quickly because the role will probably be their first job.

Remote Onboarding Process for Tech Talents: Tips & Tricks to Build a Dream Remote Team

The process of onboarding remote developers is different from that of regular employees working in an office setting. Typically, a remote developer onboarding plan should be structured to ensure the new person gets a near in-person experience that is personalized, and as informative as possible. Here are some tips and tricks.

Create a Seamless Digital Experience for HR Paperwork

Filling in HR documents, such as the payroll form physically, before scanning and sending them back to the company can be time-consuming, if not cumbersome. With that in mind, your onboarding tool should facilitate secure e-signatures so that new recruits don’t have to download forms and sign them manually.

Emphasize Company Culture

Although remote employees will be working from their homes or offshore branded spaces, they are still a part of your organization and the company culture by extension. The remote onboarding plan should include a digital employee handbook that highlights the organization’s culture, vision, and goals, as well as any other initiative that is part of your culture.

Train the Team on Using Communication Tools

Although some communication tools are basic, you shouldn’t assume that the new person joining your remote team knows how to use them. For instance, you should teach them how to use the company email and automate conversations or reports for future convenience. You should also train them on the basics of your go-to remote messaging tool, mobile phone application, or video conference software.

Role Specific and IT Training Are Crucial

Any newly hired remote developer should be conversant with basic IT functions within your company, such as file sharing, computer security, such as anti-virus installation, password management, as well as data encryption. At the same time, it will if you facilitate user-interactive courses for role-specific training.

Developer Onboarding Checklist: Quick Review to Double-check

Here is your software developer onboarding checklist:

  • Have you sent hardware equipment to remote employees?
  • Is your onboarding software tool reliable and bug-free?
  • Have you trained your remote team on using communication tools?
  • Do you have an onboarding platform with access to all education materials?
  • Is your mentor prepared to onboard the new employees?
  • Which KPIs will you use to measure the success of the onboarding process?

Conclusion 

The process of onboarding new developers can be pretty daunting, but not anymore, especially with this guide by your side. The trick lies in creating a personalized experience that will rejuvenate the new employee and keep them in high spirits throughout the project. Check out other articles on our blog for in-depth insights into remote team engagement models, as well as their cost benefits to optimize your overall experience.

FAQ

How long does it take to onboard a developer?
Onboarding a developer may take anywhere between one and three months. However, it is advisable to stretch it to three months for technical roles because upskilling courses and assessments may be needed as much as possible to fine-tune the talent’s skills and productivity.
How to onboard a new software engineer in a current team?
A typical software engineer onboarding process includes: Granting access to in-house development tools; Training on how to use the tools; Inculcating company culture; Pairing with another skilled employee; Establishment of code review processes; Assignment of the first role
What are the main tips for the team lead onboarding process?
Here are the tips for a successful team lead onboarding process: Plan meetings or any activities in advance; Share digital documents that cover company goals, culture, and vision; Prepare an introductory meeting with key team members; Use the right onboarding tool
Why is developer onboarding important?
A recent study shows that employees who undergo a successful onboarding process are likely to be 18 times committed to their new organization and will feel a stronger sense of integration into the company culture.
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