How to Onboard a Fractional Developer
Step by step checklist to onboard a fractional developer to your team
Nov 10, 2023
Congrats on onboarding your fractional developer! Everything should “just work” now, right?
While your fractional developer is seasoned with 5+ years of experience and has led or managed teams, they still need to learn about how you work and how your team works.
Based on our observations from facilitating 50+ client engagements, here’s our take on how to kick off the engagement and maintain momentum:
Getting your developer where you and your teamwork is fundamental to onboarding.
Here’s a quick checklist to make sure all the bases are covered:
Access to chat (Teams, Slack, Zoom, etc.)
Access to Project Management tools (Jira, Asana, Notion, etc.)
Access to documentation (Confluence, Notion, etc.)
Access to the codebase (GitHub, BitBucket, etc.)
Knowledge Transfer is Power. While our developers are seasoned and can figure things out, we found Knowledge Transfer sessions help our developers familiarize themselves with the code base so they can start contributing more, faster. We recommend 3 Knowledge Transfer sessions within the first two weeks to cover the following:
Knowledge Transfer #1
Full Product/Design/System Demo
Pairing session to get local build working
Environments - where is test/stage env? What about production?
Data schema #1 - walkthrough key tables and how they’re leveraged on the UI
Knowledge Transfer #2
Design Systems - JS framework setup, CSS setup
App tier review: how are services deployed? Where is main business logic?
Data flows - what systems pipe data in? Where is data sent?
Integrations - review all system integration points including auth, SSO, and other connectivity
Knowledge Transfer #3
Scheduled jobs - what batch processing is done and how?
Data schema #2 - deep dive on all entities and relationships
Infrastructure - what is the setup in AWS/GCP/Azure etc?
Set Expectations on Both Sides
No one is a mind reader, so it helps to have an expectation discussion during kickoff to make sure you, your team, and your fraction developer are on the same page.
Establish fluid and consistent communication:
How do you like to work? Does the team prefer code reviews and questions via PRs or Jira tickets? Or does the team prefer scheduled review meetings?
What are your windows of availability for async and synchronous collaboration?
What communication platform is best for team communication? Are early morning/late night clarification questions appropriate for the team?
Define delivery success from the start:
What is your velocity expectation? Is it finishing X points per sprint? Or completing tasks based on due dates?
Determine points of contact:
Is there another point of contact on the team who can help with technical clarification? Or is there a PM who can facilitate task creation if needed?