Helping to swim: how to introduce newcomers to a complex project

    Hello! My name is Mikhail Berezin, I am a team leader in HFLabs. We make a very complex enterprise-software for banks, mobile operators, insurance companies, retailers.

    Six months ago we made a big mistake: we recruited 8 people to the team at once, the staff grew 2 times. Previously, never took so many people in a crowd, so they stalled with onboarding beginners. I'll tell you how to cope with the problem.

    Timlides did not have time to introduce developers to the team

    At the time of the collapse, key developers and testers worked together for more than five years, the team is well established.

    The load grew every year, but we coped. The team did not think about a weighted expansion, there were enough other problems. As a result, we missed the moment when it was time to recruit new people and calmly, without any trouble, prepare for future tasks.

    When several new customers came at once, I had to urgently look for people. Instead of recruiting and adapting specialists in advance, we increased the team 2 times in half a year. I advise the future myself never to do this again.

    The problems started. The overall efficiency has fallen, because the newbies not only did not help, but also distracted the work of the old-timers. There was no onboarding process, resources for a full-fledged tutor for each newcomer were also not. At the same time, the products are very complex, and the staff level is very high.

    I have been working at HFLabs for a little over a year and remember the sensations from the first day very well. You sort of hit the Starfleet Enterprise, without any preparation. You do not understand and do not know, the office is a labyrinth, colleagues for one person (admittedly, friendly).

    In the end, you just do not understand what they want from you. I see the task: “General is not a customer, remove mmwt general, do not build the general build”. WAT

    Tatiana Bunto, Analyst

    At first, the situation looked like an average thickness of a stick in a wheel: now we press a little and roll further. But the farther, the worse things went: the newcomers adapted slowly, they could not entrust real tasks, the work stood.

    Documentation and even videos did not help.

    When one person came to HFLabs in a couple of months, we thought that we were fairly easy at adapting new people to the team. For this there were three, it seemed, wonderful tools.

    Documentation. There is a lot of detailed, up-to-date documentation in our confluence. We invest in it, really bother.

    In fact, it turned out that you will not understand the documentation without half a liter. For the one who sees her for the first time, this is total chaos.

    So much information in confluence about a single HFLabs client. We have more than forty of them.

    All because of the fact that the docks were written by the very 5+ years of people who are well versed in the matter. Old-timers are understandable and elementary, for the rest it is not at all so.

    For total immersion, this is what I needed to dig:

    • 5 spaces in product description confluence;
    • 16 spaces with customer documentation;
    • space describing internal office processes;
    • 6 telegram-chats for different products and customers;
    • JIRA, Mercurial, Idea, SOAP UI, cloud and god knows what else;
    • dev-stand for each customer;
    • 3225 autotests.

    My head was spinning, I wanted to curl up in a corner of the office and cry.

    Tatyana Bunto, analyst
    Records speeches aksakalov. To somehow help people, we recorded the speeches of experienced colleagues. They talked about products, customers, processes in the company.

    Over time, videos overgrown with text comments and clarifications. We gathered everything together, smashed the products and laid out in the section "Training" in confluence. This is what the Single Client product section looks like .

    We took the key thoughts from the speeches and issued a

    lively text in the abstract of video documentation, but the problems remained. There were too many commercials, the total duration is tens of hours. It is difficult to understand what and why to look, what is needed from the first days, and what is necessary afterwards. The material is poorly absorbed.

    Personal counseling.Mutual aid is an important rule of HFLabs, it is not customary for us to sit by the owl. We thought that newbies would digest most of the information themselves, and in rare difficult cases experienced guys would help. Did not work.

    Difficult cases were not rare, but regular. Old-timers simply did not find the time to respond to everything. Plus, the questions were repeated, different people had to explain the same thing.

    Often beginners did not know who to approach with the question. Everyone in the team, plus or minus, is universal, but still, in some areas, someone specific understands the best. Who - it is not clear. As a result, the neighbors in the office helped, which is not always optimal.

    Step by step quest saved the situation

    To solve the problem, it was necessary to speed up and automate the immersion of newcomers to the project. To begin with, we figured out what new people needed. Found such needs:

    • social adaptation;
    • understanding of internal communications;
    • structured product knowledge;
    • practice, a lot of practice!

    It occurred to me that everyone loves games, even adults (especially adults!). It would be cool to do a step by step quest. He will introduce newcomers to the company, and will give practice to the theory. Sat down at the script.

    The quest of six stages turned out:

    1. "First meeting".
    2. "Who needs it at all?"
    3. "We Need to Go Deeper".
    4. "It's time to benefit the project!".
    5. "For the most inquisitive."
    6. "How we test and communicate with customers."

    The quest is performed 90% autonomously, after only one or two weeks, beginners receive at least the first tasks. Then a person develops on real tasks.

    I do not see the point of spreading the full text of the quest: it is very specific, everything is closed to our internal processes. If necessary, write a comment, send.

    Below I’ll just briefly tell you how everything is arranged here.

    At each stage, the participant performs three types of tasks.

    Theoretical. Without them, nothing will come of it, no matter how much we want the opposite. Have to read and watch the video.

    For example, a theoretical assignment at the “First Meet” stage: “Watch three videos from the“ Meet One Customer ”series and read the relevant article.”

    The task at the third stage: “Look at Egor’s story about data standardization and searching for duplicates”. Here a newbie not only studies the product, but also gets to know his colleagues a little.

    Naturally, I did not overload the section with the theory, because this is the most boring thing that can be.

    Practical. We fix the theory, while it keeps in a head. For each section, I came up with tasks similar to real ones.

    At the “First Meeting” stage, the tasks are as follows:

    1. “Create a task for yourself in Djire“ Meet the Single Client in the CIA project. It will need to record the results and worklogs. Put the closing Misha.
    2. Go to the demo stand web interface and see how many counterparties there are individuals. Connect to the demo stand database and get the number of individual counterparties using the SQL query. Amount matched? The task is not easy, you need to think and search the table, to understand the columns. Do not be afraid to ask.
    3. Create a new physical counterpart through SoapUI. Find it in the web interface and see what happened.
    4. Fix vorklogi, the result and the resulting requests in jire. "

    In the fourth stage, “It's time to benefit the project!”, The practice is more interesting and more difficult:

    1. “Take a small task from the release, close it on Feng Shui (without a correct final comment, the task will be re-opened).
    2. Take the regression task. Get acquainted with the features of the customer and regress in 1.5 hours. ”

    Communication During the quest, we introduce newcomers to the team. At least, with key people with whom it is necessary to work closely. Examples from different stages:

    1. “Find Pasha Abdyushev and ask three questions on the theoretical part. Fix your questions and answers to Pasha with a comment to the task. ”
    2. "Throw off the task in the chat" Test-review ", ask to check. Finish Lena or Olya so they can check if you did everything right. ”
    3. “Find Kostya Stepanov and ask 3 any questions on the material. Also tell us about the features of the data you found. ”

    Sometimes tasks turn into a real quest. For example, finding Pasha and forcing him to answer questions is a challenge for the strong in spirit and stubborn. So the new man pumps through the skills of communication, negotiation and time management.

    The effect far exceeded the costs

    The first version of the quest, we wrote with a volunteer colleague for the day. The very next day, a new tester started testing it (tested, yes).

    It is very convenient that you do not have to follow the relevance of the theoretical part: the participants cope with this. When a novice understands that there is not enough theory to solve a problem, he tells me about it. I see what's wrong: most likely, it's time to update the documentation. The case is simple, almost not distracting.

    Now about the results.
    Time immersion in the projectTwelve weeks minimumTwo weeks
    The time that experienced colleagues spend on trainingUp to twenty hours a weekUp to ten hours during the week
    We have greatly simplified the scaling of the set. Previously adapted one person for three months, and now we can handle with five in a month.

    At the beginning of this article, I formulated what new people need in the company. Let's go back to this.

    Social adaptation. While the person completes the quest, he meets half the team. At least, colleagues who will be needed at work almost daily. Beginners understand who the person with which question to approach.

    Understanding of internal communications. Create a task in jire, write to the right chat, mark the time - all of these are tasks to consolidate internal processes and regulations, to study slang.

    Structured product knowledge.Everything is clear here: we built the training from simple to complex, broke into small clear pieces. It's easier to digest.

    Practice, a lot of practice! From the first stage a person goes into battle, to the fourth brings real benefits. I don’t have to cram anything; we fix the theory through tasks. Tasks are similar to real ones, from the fourth stage they are already real.

    Newbies liked it.
    The quest is composed in a very tricky way:

    1. You can not just somehow read, look through and go further.
    2. You will see the product and process from different angles.
    3. You recognize those with whom you will work.
    4. Get ready to perform tasks.

    Anastasia Dudnik, tester

    The quest helped at least with what exactly was written there, to whom on what issue one could approach.

    Vadim Zaitsev, Project Manager
    Now we are ready to accept new people. But we still try to do it carefully and to a point, so as not to destroy the existing culture.

    Come to work with us if you like a complex enterprise. Now we are looking for a maintenance engineer (from 80,000 ₽ per hand) and a tester (from 90,000 ₽) . To anyone who recommends a suitable person, we will present the first specialist’s salary after three months of probation.

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