A Systematic Personalized Team Onboarding Design Process in Software Development Companies
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A new team member may join an existing software development team due to a multitude of reasons, such as: replacement for a loss of existing members, new team formation, team member reshuffle, or creation of new roles in the team. It may take some time for the new team member to become integrated and productive and often an onboarding program is used to support the new team member during this time. The design of these onboarding programmes seems quite adhoc and often there is a one-size-fits-all approach. This may result in onboarding programs not well-suited to the particular characteristics of the new team member and the team. This research proposes a method of systematically designing a personalised onboarding program to take into account the diverse characteristics and experience of onboarders, as well as the specific contexts of the teams. The research also proposes some onboarding program implementation strategies as well as a supporting design tool. The research first investigates how team onboarding programs of software development companies are conceptualized in the literature and then proposes a systematic personalized team onboarding design process. A set of main onboarding factors are investigated including: desired onboarding goals, activities to support the achievement of the goals, and possible challenges and risks to the implementation of the program of activities. Different perspectives of related parties of the software development teams as well as diverse personalities of onboarders are considered. The designed process is based on an empirically-based guide to customize the onboarding goals, select the tasks that the onboarder can do to achieve these goals, and consider possible risks that could be preventing the success of onboarding programs. A Design Science Research approach was adopted as an iterative processes of problem identification, identifying design process requirements, and the design process development. Onboarding design process evaluation was based on simulated use-case scenarios only at this stage. The understanding of problem, the onboarding goals, related onboarding tasks, and the risks that form the basis of the proposed onboarding design process is gained from a Systematic Literature Review of relevant research. A thematic synthesis method was applied to categorize the set of onboarding goals, activities, and challenges/barriers/risks for analysis of extracted data from systematic literature review. Two indicative use-cases were used to evaluate the utility of the proposed onboarding program design process by construct personalized team onboarding programs for these use-cases, and reflecting on these. To support the proposed onboarding design process, a prototype tool was also developed, as a proof-of-concept . It is expected that the results of this thesis will contribute to professional practice in a couple of ways. First, it is hoped that this thesis will raise the awareness of team onboarding among practitioners, and the need to design onboarding programs systematically and proactively. Second, the work in this thesis provides onboarding program designers with an empirically-based onboarding design process that will allow the creation of personalized programs to suit the specific characteristics of the onboarder and teams. Researchers may benefit from this work also by building on the conceptualization of team onboarding presented.