Software Developer Onboarding: Best Practices & Checklist


Onboarding any new employee is a process deserving care and consideration. But, there are some situations and categories of employees that might require employers going the extra mile. Software developer onboarding is one of those situations.

This article will discuss the process of onboarding new developers. We will address why this particular role requires extra consideration when onboarding. Additionally, we have drafted a developer onboarding template. You can easily download the developer onboarding checklist template below.

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We are currently working on a more comprehensive developer onboarding guide. You will find it soon on our introdus, employee onboarding software, website.

What is a Software Developer Onboarding Process?


Software developer onboarding refers to the process of integrating a new software developer into a new organisation. Similarly to a regular employee onboarding process, software developer onboarding has to ensure that the new software developer has the knowledge, the skills and the tools to be proficient in their new role.   

Regardless if we deal with an on-premise or a remote onboarding process, onboarding new software developers will have a strong learning component. This is due to the very nature of the software developer role. Software developers are highly skilled workers that deal with complex problems on a daily basis.

A software developer cannot just enter the company and start coding right off the bat. Thus, software developer onboarding has to ensure that you understand the context in which your work contributes.


Software Developer Onboarding Best Practices


A new developer onboarding process can be easily managed with various tools. One of them is a software developer onboarding checklist. We have structured our software developer onboarding checklist respecting a few developer onboarding best practices. Let’s review them.


1. Clear Structure and Scheduling Are Must-haves


This is the case with any onboarding planning. The more structured, the easier to follow along the journey and to assess progress.

In the words of introdus’ CTO, Martin Aarhus Gregersen. “Onboarding new developers can be tricky. It requires: good documentation (of the codebase and supporting tools), a smooth process for setting up a local development environment. Additionally, it also requires available peers or mentors for inevitable issues. These are particularly dangerous in development as they can entirely block a person from having anything to do. They might end up not able to create any code at all.”

Developer Onboarding Insights

Many details have to be streamlined, otherwise they can entirely block newly hired developers from having anything to do. They might end up not able to create any code at all.

—Martin Aarhus Gregersen, CTO at introdus.


2. Active Communication


Communication should be active between signing the contract and the first day at work. This will ensure that you feel welcome and well taken care of even before the first day.  It’s the little things that will make a difference.

Receiving a welcome email from your new team leader or being invited to a meet and greet. These are great examples of maintaining communication and making a good first impression.


3. IT Onboarding is Vital


We won’t go into much detail, as we have already discussed IT Onboarding in detail in another article. (We highly recommend checking it out.) But it goes without saying that a professional working on software needs hardware and software.


4. Training, Training, Training


When onboarding developers and software engineers, there is a strong focus on training and product and project understanding. It is unrealistic to expect a developer to start writing code immediately. The larger the project, the more time you will require to understand its complexity. You can expect spending a considerable amount of time during training. This means both learning through mentoring and self-study.

Having a clear training plan will be of immense help. We have drafted additional best practices for training new employees available on our blog HR.


5. Don’t forget about Social Onboarding


There are multiple social benefits of a good onboarding programme. All new hires need to establish meaningful social connections in a new workplace. This fosters a sense of belonging, as well as trust. Trust and friendship in the workplace are known to contribute to a higher level of job satisfaction.


Software Developer Onboarding Checklist


You will see that all activities included in our software developer onboarding checklist respect these best practices. Additionally, we have structured it into 2 main components. The first is Preboarding and documentation set-up. The second is the actual onboarding process.

Additionally, we applied a further break-down of the onboarding period. We differentiated between first day onboarding, first week onboarding checklist, first 14 days at the office, days 30-90, and final stage onboarding. The latter will be adjusted to match the procedures and practices of your company in terms of process length.

Download the software developer onboarding checklist below.

Get the Template

Our software developer onboarding checklist can also be adjusted for onboarding remote developers. Rather than holding physical meetings, they can take place virtually. It will be essential for all meetings to appear in your calendar, and to receive the links for the virtual meeting room in advance.

You can further customise this checklist with specific activities from the IT Onboarding Checklist and the Onboarding Buddy Checklist. Again, it all depends on the processes existing in your company.


Software Engineer Onboarding Process


We felt the need to make a mention. We know that a software engineer is different from a software developer. It would be beneath the scope of this article to go in depth over the differences and similarities between the two roles.

There is some obvious overlap between the set of skills and tasks of a software engineer, as compared to a software developer. After all, a software engineer onboarding process will have to have the training component, and IT Onboarding component. Moreover, both roles would require learning about best practices and coding standards. These are just a few examples that illustrate how a software engineer onboarding process is similar to a developer onboarding process.

So, we are confident in recommending that a software engineer onboarding process can be modeled on our software developer onboarding checklist.


Onboarding Software Developers: To Conclude


We have discussed multiple times about the power of onboarding for you as a new hire. You probably know it from first hand experience. The way your company receives you as a new hire can represent a make or break moment in your relationship.

Thus, a successful career with a new company starts with successful Onboarding (and Preboarding). You need to receive all the tools, the know how and the roadmap to navigate tasks and processes.

A developer onboarding process (and software engineer onboarding process) needs coordination and strategic planning. It is costly to recruit and onboarding new hires occupying these positions. As shown by Josh Bersin, Industry analyst, the cost of recruiting a mid-career software engineer can be $30,000 or more. This number does not include onboarding costs! This implies that losing newly hired developers or software engineers due to new hire turnover is extremely costly.

Software Engineer Onboarding Insights

The cost of recruiting a mid-career software engineer can be $30,000 or more.

—Josh Bersin, Industry analyst and researcher.


introdus, employee onboarding software, provides a product that supports all new hires regardless of the role or the size of the company. As part of our quest, we create numerous tools that can inspire companies to create and structure their new hire journey. The checklist included in this article is an example. Another example is our sample onboarding plan for new employees.

Effective Developer Onboarding is achieved with the right tools.


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