life hacks of a loaded curator for effective onboarding of a newbie

life hacks of a loaded curator for effective onboarding of a newbie

How to adapt a beginner and not burn out completely?

Greeting! My name is Darya, I am the team leader of the testing group of the billing system development department at the Bercut company, which is part of the Rostelecom group of companies. For seven years of work in the field of testing, I myself went through adaptation plans, and many times supervised newcomers. At the same time, I always faced the same problem: it is inconvenient to distract the curator with questions 100 times a day, but even worse – to be the curator who is distracted 100 times a day!

In this publication, I will share my experience of creating an onboarding process for new employees in my team. I will talk about the stages of building the adaptation process, give useful checklists and summarize our work.

Bercut designs and develops IT solutions for operators of digital services and mobile services. Bercut solutions allowed to create and improve hundreds of products for Tele2 and other partners with a total subscriber base of more than 310 million subscribers. And when a newcomer comes to Bercut, he is faced with a gigantic amount of information to learn and start applying. In addition to general knowledge of testing, knowledge of the billing system, which has been built over decades, is required.

The transition to a remote work format in 2020 prompted us to look for ways to create an adaptation process in the team. After all, in the office you can always see what a new employee is busy with: it is easier to clarify how the training is going, to distract yourself and answer questions. Remote communication began to be carried out through conference calls and chats. In messengers, it was not possible to give answers quickly, and conf calls overlapped each other, as their number increased several times. The adaptation process had to be urgently fixed and improved, which means that everything should be structured and then fixed!

During the creation of a new format for employee adaptation, the main tasks that had to be solved first were highlighted:

  1. Build a curator appointment process.

  2. Make a full adaptation plan.

  3. Structure important information for a beginner.

It seems to be a base, there is nothing unusual or new, but! Previously, everything took place in the format of live meetings, setting tasks was verbal and informal, but now it has become necessary to adjust the process to new working conditions. Next, I will reveal each item listed above in more detail.

The first is the curator.

Any newbie should have a dedicated curator to whom he can turn to for any question. The curator helps the employee to blend into the team, broadcasting the peculiarities of working in a team. This is necessary because during the stages of adaptation, interaction with the team is minimal, especially when working in removal mode.

On the first day of the newcomer’s adaptation, it is important to discuss with the curator what methods of communication will be convenient for further interaction, to agree on the frequency and time of conference calls. For example, in our team, between the curator and the newcomer, we have an agreement on calls for half an hour in the morning, during which we discuss the issues and difficulties that arose during the adaptation process. During the day, the novice distracts the curator only with foot problems.

The second is the adaptation plan.

On the newbie’s first day of work, we have to give him an adaptation plan. A good plan and a clear understanding by the beginner of what is expected of him and in what time frame is half the success. The plan must be consistent and calculated for a certain period; it is convenient to compile it as tables (see Table 1).

Table 1

The plan should include the tasks assigned to the adaptation period. Tasks are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and due date (we all love SMART, right?).

Answers to questions about setting up the working environment, necessary accesses, as well as information to dive into our product – we also include all this in the adaptation plan.

An example of the main points of our adaptation plan template, with specifics/tasks-subtasks:

1. Access request, installation of necessary programs.

1.1. List of accesses.

Explanation: Here it is worth writing down all the accesses (with links to resources) that the employee should request on the first day. Specify where and how to request access. It is also possible to describe the regulation of the process of granting access adopted by the team/company, to indicate the resource where applications are created and their format, contacts of the IT department;

1.2. Software installation.

Explanation: in this subsection, we prescribe all the software, necessary settings of the working environment. Be sure to specify versions and links to resources for downloading the necessary software. A good bonus would be an instruction or a link to the installation guide.

2. Study of general information about processes in the company.

2.1. Company website, information on labor discipline, process map, job description, regulation on response to incidents, etc.;

Explanation: we provide a list of general company documents, we indicate the link where to find these documents.

3. Compulsory courses or activities for beginners (if any).

3.1. Meetings, welcome meetings, etc.

Explanation: indicate the activities, courses necessary for study and attendance, write down the term/date and the name of the organizer, if this is not done by the curator himself.

4. Acquaintance with the product.

4.1. The selected stage of studying the product.

Explanation: if the product is large/complex and it takes a lot of time to study it, we form a list of tasks and group them into blocks. For each task, we describe in detail the steps and the expected result, the deadline. It will also not be superfluous to add where to look for the information necessary to solve the task.

For example, the stage “Initial creation of elements of the Bercut system” – within this stage, the task, conditionally, “Creation of a bird” is selected (see Table 2). To solve this task, you need to study a special guide, log in to the application, make a number of adjustments to the characteristics of the future bird and, finally, create the bird itself. If there is no guide, then the minimum settings should be described to help a beginner. If there is no time for a full description with screenshots and examples, you can record a video of us explaining the settings to one of the newbies, and then distribute the video to other newbies.

Table 2

The third is to collect all important sources of information on one page (useful not only for beginners, but also for the whole team). In essence, this is a single scope of links, software versions, a collection of the most important regulations that can be scattered across various sources. Checklist of what should be organized as follows:

  1. the company’s internal website;

  2. Link to the web version of corporate mail;

  3. Setting up a VPN connection;

  4. Regulation of requests for access to resources;

  5. A list of mandatory accesses and links to these resources, for example, access to GIT with a link;

  6. Software for setting up the working environment with versions and download links;

  7. List of problems that often arise when installing software, installation hacks;

  8. Links to test and release product builds;

  9. List of links to all regulations adopted by the team. Of course, if there are no regulations, then it is worth conducting work on their creation. Here is an example of useful regulations for the testing team: regulations for working with applications, regulations for issuing applications, regulations for describing test cases in the test methodology storage system, regulations for checking the project before shipping the release;

  10. Link to the knowledge base of the team;

  11. Links to task boards such as Kanban, Agile board in Jira;

  12. Useful filters for finding tasks, such as Jira;

  13. Links to release shipping plans or system version tables;

  14. Reference to the accounting system of labor costs and regulations regarding their accounting and entry;

  15. Links to the source of documentation storage, to settings guides, technical projects, etc.;

  16. Link to the storage source of test methods, test reports, test plans;

  17. Link to vacation planning system;

  18. List of communication channels accepted in the team, list of important chats;

  19. Contacts of representatives of the IT department in case there are issues with access, remote connection, etc.

It is important not to leave the collected information in its original form: since new questions will always arise, the specified points will have to be clarified when releasing new versions of the software – replace versions, add new regulations. The collected information will be useful if it is kept up-to-date, so it should be reviewed and edited periodically.

What did we get after working through all the voiced points in the team?

It took us less than a week to update the processes. The first newcomers who went through the adaptation plan helped us adjust the process – there were questions that we forgot to reflect, as well as inaccurate wording in the tasks.

But here’s what we noticed right away: the time spent setting up the work environment by a newbie has decreased, the number of problems and questions due to lack of access to the necessary resources has decreased. Now it is clear what the employee does on a specific day and how much time it takes to implement the adaptation plan. The novice became clear about the tasks and requirements facing him during the adaptation period. Bottom line: less distractions on basic curator questions -> more time to analyze complex questions about the product.

After the adaptation was completed, we began to collect feedback from new employees. This is how we notice nuances that were not paid attention to before, and continue to work on the development of the adaptation process in the team. For example, after receiving such feedback, we realized that it is necessary to add a small test to test knowledge about the passed adaptation plan. And now we are thinking about how to more effectively immerse a beginner in test automation, since we have to work with a ready-made test harness, formed standards for the development of autotests.

The onboarding process is important for immersing new employees in the team’s work environment. We do it ourselves and recommend you to constantly revise, develop and improve it.

Related posts