This strategy gives individuals a chance to gain some context and do some background research before actually arriving on the first day of the project.
Image taken from Shinyai’s flickr stream under the Creative Commons Licence.
How Did We Execute It?
Before we started our new team, I sent out an email that covered a few different topics. Some of the content would repeat some of the information they receive during other onboarding activities but I think it was still useful to help set some expectations. Some of the topics that I covered included a list of all the tools that we use, the technology stack that the application is built on, a description of common software patterns that we leverage in the system and an opportunity for them to reply with some questions.
Why Is It Important?
People coming to your project may come from very different backgrounds. They may not have had the same level of skill, or exposure to the same sets of tools. When you send out a concrete list of items relevant to your project, you help them understand what they may need to do more reading on or where they need to develop further skills. It also helps alleviate any concerns about not having the right level of skill or understanding and gives them more context about the project.
What I Might Try Next Time
Next time I would want to include more about the business, include more on what life on the project is like, and discuss any unusual or unique aspects to it.