The Ultimate Remote Developer Onboarding Checklist

May 04, 2016

Developer onboarding checklist

Skilled software engineers are so high in demand that they can afford the luxury of switching jobs as often as they like, which takes the importance of onboarding and retention to a whole new level.

And it’s not just about keeping talent. Some sources suggest that every time a company replaces a salaried employee, it costs the equivalent of 6 to 9 monthly paychecks. For a software developer making $73,000 a year (the average in the US according to PayScale), the recruiting and training expenses alone could be as high as $54,750.

If you want to make sure your new hire doesn’t leave you at the end of their first month, you need to make their transition into a new role as smooth as possible. Our developer onboarding checklist will help you do just that.

Since our core service is building and maintaining offshore software development teams for our clients, we created this checklist with remote programmers in mind. That being said, it will also come in handy for anyone looking to streamline their developer onboarding process.

Pre-Employment

  • Lay out clear expectations of the role, work hours, and schedule of your new hire, and let them know how you’re going to monitor their progress. This will help rule out any initial misunderstanding.
  • Send your developer the itinerary of the first few days and weeks so that they know what to expect once the employment starts.
  • Check the time difference between you and your developer, and let them know the exact time you expect them to be online on their first day (we use Worldtimebuddy).

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  • Send your new hire a list of tools they will need for work so that they can install them beforehand. That list might include a version control system and testing software, as well as communication and time tracking tools.
  • If you provide remote employees with your own hardware, download and install all the necessary applications beforehand and send it well ahead of time.
  • Prepare detailed instructions, or set up a virtual meeting with a member of your IT team to help with setting up new software and the development environment.
  • Make sure your introductory project documentation is up-to-date.
  • Assign a mentor who will be reviewing the project and the development process with your new hire over the coming weeks.
  • Tell your in-house team about the new person’s start date.
  • Send a package with company branded goodies such as stationery, a mug, or a T-shirt. It’s a small gesture, but it will help make your new developer feel more welcome.

First Day

  • Introduce the new developer to their teammates and let them know who does what so that they know which person to approach if they have any specific questions. Don’t forget to point out which member of the existing team is the new hire’s mentor.
  • Organize a virtual office tour via a Skype video call or a dedicated video. Even if you plan to bring your new employee to your office some time soon, it’s still better to show it to them on their first day. This will instantly bring your organization to life in their eyes and give insight into your culture.
  • Fill them in on the current state of the project. Be sure to touch on short- and long-term goals, as well as the main problems and tasks at hand.
  • Provide them with access to corporate email and any other systems they’ll need for work.
  • Give them time to read through project documentation.
  • Organize an introductory training session with more experienced team members: first with a QA engineer/BA on the functional side of the project, then with a team lead/software architect/senior developer on the technical side.

First Week

  • Slowly introduce the new hire to any other coworkers they need to know (executives, managers of other teams, etc.)
  • Invite them to daily status calls to make them feel like an accepted member of the team.
  • Have your new developer pair program with their mentor on a few tasks.
  • Assign them smaller tasks from multiple modules of the project. That way they’ll quickly get a grasp of the project architecture.
  • Set out success metrics and deliverables for the first few weeks to give the new employee focus and direction.
  • Have the mentor talk to the new hire every day to answer questions and review code.

First Month

  • Include your new developer in correspondence concerning project-wide issues like deadlines, global plans, staff changes, etc.
  • Have one-on-one meetings at the end of each week to provide feedback on your new developer’s progress and answer their questions.
  • Ask them which parts of the onboarding process have been going smoothly, and which haven’t. Let them know they shouldn’t hold anything back when it comes to questions, comments, or concerns.
  • If possible, bring them over to your office so they can meet everyone in person. Use this opportunity for team-building activities to build trust and boost productivity.
  • Conclude with a formal probation review to assess their performance so far and set out future steps for the role and their professional development.

You might have noticed that we didn’t include anything about the HR paperwork and workstation setup in our developer onboarding checklist, which are both essential components of the onboarding process.

The reason is that when you hire offshore software developers with a company like ours, you don’t have to worry about any of those things.

We’ll take care of office space and the hardware and software your developers will need for work. HR and retention, payroll, taxes – those are all on us too. We’ll also advise you on the best practices to build effective and long-lasting relationships with your developers and motivate them to deliver high-quality work. Learn more about building an offshore development team with Daxx.

To add experienced offshore developers to your in-house team, contact us through the form below.

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