2021-09-06 - 6 MIN READ
Virtual team
Project development

4 Essential Steps of Onboarding Outsourced Developers

The outsourcing industry has been an integral partner of companies across many sectors since the '70s. Companies seeking efficiency began hiring outside firms to manage processes and obtain cost savings - delegate some activities to sub-contractors in countries with much lower overhead costs. Year after year It became a business strategy. The concept of staffing was developing at the same time, and the term semi-permanent employee became common to use.

Preparing the onboarding process

Now, these semi-permanent employees are called temporary or contract employees, and they are assigned to help with short-term projects or covering the leave of a permanent employee. Outsourced developers also fulfill the development team's needs for specific knowledge and skills. They act as a special IT force that joins the project to quickly deliver expected outcomes. Staff augmentation services offer companies huge flexibility since they can scale up or down outsourced IT professionals depending on the need.

However, in order to work efficiently, businesses should follow a clear plan for working collaboratively with their outsourced developers. We introduce 4 essential steps of the onboarding process.

Why does proper onboarding matter?

You might not know that onboarding is not only a process through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and access to tools used by the company - it’s also organizational socialization. It means that any person who cooperates with your organization needs to get familiar with it and its members as well as expectations in order to become effective. HR professionals state that onboarding should take at least 3 months In the case of full-time employees. While working with outsourced developers you only need from a few days up to 1 week to onboard them.

A proper IT contractor onboarding matters because it improves the success rate and allows a developer to start working on your project quicker. A lack of understanding of what’s to be done and the lack of information may lead to delays, mistakes, and frustration. In such a case, the fault is on both sides. Also, having a well-defined onboarding process means you cut out time that would need to be spent on getting newly hired employees set up. What’s more, onboarding the right way helps employees feel more connected to your organization and this impacts their engagement and improves productivity by over 70%.

What are the essential steps of onboarding outsourced developers?

Onboarding is a collaborative process in which both an IT contractor and the company needs to engage. Each onboarding process should also be adjusted to the specific way of work of your organization. But there are certain steps that are universal and which you can take to make the cooperation easier for outsourced developers and help them begin work as soon as possible. Remember that the main difference between onboarding employees and IT contractors is that you need to set up everything before they join your team.

Step 1. Get the paperwork ready and grant needed access

Paperwork can be time-consuming but it’s unavoidable if you want to do everything right and legally. When you cooperate with an IT contractor that was delivered to you by an IT staffing agency it makes the process easier since they prepare most of the required agreements. You should make sure documents contain information on copyrights, outline the terms of the deal, cost estimation and currency, scope of work definition, required frequency of communications, and working hours. You may also want to sign NDA with your outsourced developer.

Another thing that you should prepare ahead of time is a list of any access a developer will need to do their job. It can be backend access to your website or software, access to documentation, source-code repository, communication tools, API description, mockups, etc. You can also ask an IT staffing agency or developer what they need access to and then grant it after signing the agreement. It will help an IT contractor to make a smooth start and understand better the software engineering environment. It’s also a benefit for you since you are the one who pays for their working time.

Step 2. Provide the full description of the project and way of work

Blue House Community Members bring additional value to the clients through taking ownership of the issues they are challenged with, experience, and proactive feedback. The more they know about the project the better for you. It’s a good idea to start by explaining the business context and the company’s vision statement. If you build a product or software, tell how it differs from competitors and what are the main assumptions of its functionality. Such knowledge will make it easier for outsourced developers to figure out which technical features can hinder or boost your success.

Next, provide all the relevant technical guidelines and supplementary documentation. Show newly hired developers where they can find all the information and what tasks need to be completed in the first couple of sprints. Introduce the Project Owner and Project Manager if they are on the team, so they know who is a point of contact. Outsourced developers also need to know who is responsible for handling tests and where tasks are rewritten and time is logged. This will help to keep everything in order and avoid misunderstandings.

Read also about 5 tips for reducing the duration of the IT project.

Step 3. Discuss progress reporting methods and expected deliverables

From a management perspective, it’s extremely important to measure developers’ productivity. No wonder, since each hour of developer’s work is often a big investment for the company. That’s why it’s worth discussing what and how will be measured to assure that there is meaningful progress in the project development. You should also agree on the final delivery date, and how you’re going to schedule the sprints that lead up to it.

To stay aware of the overall progress of the project you can also ask the IT contractor to log in to the dedicated software in order to track and manage tasks/tickets/time or prepare monthly reports. Such reports should identify authorized work that was scheduled to be performed during the agreed period and progress made, presented as:

  • a textual description of progress,
  • a list of internal milestones attained,
  • an accounting of the hours billed,
  • an assessment of the time (in hours) remaining to complete the activities,
  • a list of unplanned, but authorized work that was conducted, identifying the number of hours spent,
  • authorized work that is scheduled to be performed during the next week,
  • a brief description of any problems encountered in performing the activities.

Step 4. Promote a sense of ownership and taking initiative

Improving business performance through software development comes down to empowering developers, creating the right environment for them to innovate, and removing points of friction. Industry leaders refer to this capability as “Developer Velocity.” This goes beyond the definition of velocity as it relates to agile methodologies—meaning it is about not just speed but also unleashing the full potential of development talent. (Source: McKinsey&Company)

There are many strategies intended to engage employees, but one of the most important involves encouraging a sense of ownership. Feeling a sense of ownership matters because it gives employees, and IT contractors as well, a sense of autonomy, and in turn, they tend to focus on what the company needs overall rather than just what’s required of them. In an ownership culture, developers are guided by their own personal values and knowledge than rules. They feel like a part of the team that works together for success and takes responsibility for their actions. By being able to do that developers also unleash their potential.

Read also about virtual team building – how to interact online?

Summing up

At Blue House, we built a closed community of elite IT talent. We are providing expert staff augmentation services in which we match the right people with the right projects based on their skills and personality traits. We know that if you want your collaboration with outsourced developers to be rewarding end efficient, there is no better way to start the work than through a carefully planned onboarding process.

There are many elements in such a process, and the steps that we’ve mentioned above are the most important according to our experience and judgment. Contact us if you are searching for talented IT professionals.

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