Designing engineering onboarding for 60+ nationalities

Harty, Julian (2020). Designing engineering onboarding for 60+ nationalities. In: Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Global Software Engineering, ACM, pp. 76–80.



A large international engineering office in Germany needed to double in size in 12 months. We designed an onboarding programme within 3 months to help it do so efficaciously. We wanted to optimize for: fast iterations in the programme rollout, to keep the 'flywheel spinning' by reducing drag on current staff, rapid acceleration where new hires contributed quickly, and smooth integration where new hires adapted to the engineering, company, and country cultures.

To reduce drag we onboarded in cohorts and involved existing practitioners in the design and discussion. To encourage contributions quickly we built contributions into the sessions, we also streamlined IT Support. To help new hires adopt the culture we encouraged help and mentoring within and across cohorts. For fast iterations, we incorporated existing islands of onboarding, involved local technical staff in design and delivery of hands-on training, and applied analytics to help improve the practice. And we launched early to bootstrap our learning and evaluation. Our approach worked; new hires were able to make meaningful contributions within a week and they scored the onboarding programme positively (8.5 NPS).

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