Getting on top of the onboarding process

Software development techniques and Agile methodologies

Getting on top of the onboarding process

By Cameron McKenzie

TheServerSide.com

Bringing a big project in on time typically means hiring an outside resource or two to help complete the team, and getting those outside resources up and running as soon as possible is an important, yet often under-attended task.

The hired guns were always needed last week, if not last month, but far too often when the new consultant makes it into the building and gets their security badge, accommodations haven't been made, and resources simply aren't available.

Starting off on the right track

"I was once hired for a twelve week contract at one hundred and fifty dollars an hour, and it took two weeks for them to find me a desk. For the first ten days of the contract, I went into the office for an hour a day, and then went back to the hotel they were paying for and did some busy work on my laptop," says Chris Sunderland, an IT Consultant working out of Toronto. 

"When I finally got a desk and a computer, there wasn't any software. A week went by and I finally got the software, but I didn't have administrator rights on the machine to install it. That took another week to obtain. One third of the way through a twelve week contract, and I hadn't checked a single line of code into the repository."

The bottom line is that if you're going to hire a new employee, especially if it's a hired gun for a short term contract, make sure you're ready for them, with a desk, a computer, and a pre-configured development environment. And yes, make sure the environment is pre-configured. Any consultant worth their salt should know their way around a source code management tool, and they should know how to set up a test server and a database connection, but on any project of any size, there will be custom settings or poorly documented configurations that need to be done before everything works and compile as needed. 

Leaving the new hire to figure out why certain classes aren't compiling, or why certain database connections are failing, when there is an undocumented solution that resides in the brain of the lead developer, not only sets a poor precedent for cooperation and communication, but it leaves the employee unmotivated and less enthusiastic about working hard and meeting deadlines. After all, why should the new hire care about developing code when nobody is going to empower them with the resources and the environment to do so?

Get developers developing

The key to a successful project is having a group of motivated developers doing what they do best - developing code. And no time should be wasted, especially when it comes to the onboarding process. And that means empowering your developers with the resources they need, and a development environment that works right from the start.

07 Jun 2011

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