Do your ‘dev team skillset checklist’ now.

First day on the job carries big significance. Your hire is meeting the team, getting to know the organization, getting familiar with the tools and systems you use and so on. Most probably your company has this process thought through and your HR goes through an onboarding checklist in the type of this one. (If they don’t, let them know — it’s really helpful.)

But then what happens, when your new, eager to work, still curious dev joins your project team? In most cases I’ve seen over the years, s/he is just put into a room with one of developers already on the team and simply walked through the project setup, given some documentation (if one exists, that is) etc. Same situation with an employee changing projects, the difference being they are already familiar with all the stuff used company-wide.

So why not use your HR’s method and come up with the checklist, too?

A slightly different checklist, though — one being essentially a skillset profile for your project team member. That’s exactly what we did in EFI4 Digital Banking Platform. It let us introduce new team members much faster and also improved interchangeability of devs between projects. It’s also a nice compilation of what you need to learn to fit project best.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters.

Coming up with such a list is really simple. First, be aware you’ll need separate lists for different functions in the team — front end, back end, UX etc. Then, make the general, high level, list of stuff your team members need to know. One of your existing job ads will be a good a starter. Then simply go top-down. Take the skill (eg. knowledge of Redux) and list all the key concepts / methods (and whatever else) your guy should be familiar with (eg. action creators, reducers, dispatchers) in order to be an adept member of the given development team. Then just go to the next skill and repeat, and so on. That’s just it.

Of course you don’t need to stick to technical skills only. My checklist includes eg. domain knowledge of banking processes, since we’re creating a banking platform after all.

What you get in effect is a skill profile of given type of team member. It’s very useful for eg. onboarding a new hire in the project (as opposed to “in the organization”); assessing if an existing employee fits your project; screening candidates during recruitment process; etc.

Include your team in the process

By the way, you should prepare such checklist together with your team. Coming up with it together arranges nicely their “hot” knowledge. It also straightens out the understanding what exactly is meant by statements like “good knowledge of Angular”, which can be interpreted differently by different people. And finally it clears what kind of skills they need to polish — which has a much better impact when coming from team, not the manager.

So, do your “new developer checklist now”. It’s fast and pays out instantly.