The Guide to Developer Onboarding

Engineering Onboarding is Different

On day one, a new hire typically starts out in corporate onboarding. HR typically enrolls them in a training program or orientation to help them get acquainted with the company, its policies, and the basic outline of the position. Generally, corporate onboarding doesn’t contain the engineering onboarding that engineers need to understand their jobs. Yet, new hires are expected to “hit the ground running” immediately after this welcome packet is handed to them.

This is the status quo: a stack of forms to complete, a brief history of the company and its policies, a lot of new names to memorize and virtual hands to shake, plus a session with IT to set up email and other user accounts. Engineers frequently get a checklist of links to read and the instruction to work through it at their own pace (they promptly abandon the checklist just a few days in!)

This approach is failing engineering teams. New hires are left undertrained and disoriented, and the strain of their constant questions slows down more experienced team members. The velocity of the whole team dips for every new hire and multiple new team members increase the problem exponentially.

It takes a new engineer 7-9 months to become productive. What if you could cut that time down to just one month?

As crucial as it is to get onboarding right, tech companies often underestimate it. It's difficult to balance a growing engineering team with the challenge of keeping documentation up to date. For engineering managers, sometimes the first problem sign is a shipping delay.

You need more than the traditional approach to accelerate your new engineers. A smooth transition from starry-eyed new hire to productive, happy engineer requires a framework designed for the unique needs of engineers. It must communicate exactly what the new hire needs to know, when they need to know it, using a method that will help it stick.

See a demo of eddy in action.

80% of new hires complete Edify's onboarding plan in 4 weeks or less.

Bad Onboarding is Killing Engineering Managers

If you lead a technical team, chances are you've experienced the following:

  • Your promising junior developer doesn't have an onboarding plan that meets their needs.  Even after several months of q&a sessions with existing team members, they’re still not up-to-speed and productive.
  • Your (expensive!) senior developers are excited to dig in but they're faced with a rocky start - they fail to get acclimatized and struggle to connect to the work.

Sometimes the problem is a gap in the design of the onboarding program - such as a new hire being given a list of logins without the context required to absorb the information. Often, it's incomplete or outdated documentation. Other times, it's the more experienced members of the team not having the bandwidth, time, resources, or motivation necessary to support them. Frequently, it's all of the above. All of this contributes to low time-to-productivity and eventually high churn - two painful and expensive propositions for engineering teams.

The cost in time and money of losing an employee and restarting the hiring process is enormous. For example — if new hires meet for two to three hours with each person on a team, and there are 10 new hires in a rapidly-scaling startup, that’s 50 hours spent on training… and this training is likely neither effective nor lasting. The cost to the company is about three times an engineer's salary. Engineering onboarding failures are estimated to cost the industry $22 billion a year.

If this sounds familiar, it’s a sign your company is in need of an engineering onboarding program. In some cases, things are going well - until they aren’t. If you’re about to do any of the following, you’ll also want to start building engineering onboarding:

  • Hiring rapidly in waves throughout the year or quarter
  • Engineering team absenteeism or disengagement
  • Decreased engineering velocity after onboarding new hires
  • New engineers  leaving after 6-18 months

What is Developer Onboarding?

Developer onboarding is the process of imparting the technical, process, product, and professional expectations you have for your new hires in a context and delivery that makes the information usable and actionable for your new hire. Gone are the long and often outdated checklists filled with links without context.

Engineering onboarding reduces stress and overload for managers by creating a consistent, repeatable, customizable process. Instead of starting from scratch with each new hire, finding the right people to connect them with, and doing a gut-check whether your onboarding info is still good, you're able to trust your workflow and update it - once - when necessary. Additionally, engineering onboarding:

  • Develops team member capacity for building onboarding resources
  • Builds a long-lasting, evolvable learning scaffolding
  • Reduces time to productivity dramatically
  • Encourages employees to take ownership for their part in acclimating to a new team
  • Allows new hires to thrive with less time from other team members
  • Saves the engineering organization money on employee churn.

Engineers take an average of 7-9 months to truly understand their role, the company, the product, and how they fit into it all. With an onboarding program built for engineers, your new hires reach this understanding in record time (often just 4 weeks!) while helping you get rid of the headaches for engineering managers and existing team members.

90% of managers have used eddy to audit their knowledge repo and prioritize documentation gaps.Read more about engineering onboarding on our blog.

Scale Engineering Onboarding For Results

Edify’s approach to onboarding is different - and so are the results. Engineers who onboard with Edify take just one month to become productive.

With a software platform that builds on engineering best practices adult learning science, Edify goes deep to identify all those tacit, need-to-know things about your engineering program's goals and workflows, as well as the technical information they need to do their job.

It works by taking your institutional knowledge and reframing it into key knowledge pillars - the things engineers need to learn in order to become productive, fast. Using contextual clues and adult learning best practices like daily, just-in-time check-ins, Edify delivers a customized engineering onboarding plan to new hires in a workflow that makes sense to them.

New hires are empowered to take ownership of their onboarding, with support from subject-matter experts and peers that are facilitated through the platform. Managers have visibility to their new hire's progress and the ability to scale their onboarding program without the need for additional support from their teams or from HR.

Edify helps engineering teams build the best products in the world by removing the friction of developer onboarding. For more resources, check out our blog!

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