Students’ Expectations of Team Onboarding Support in Agile Software Development

Liu, Junkai
Buchan, Jim
Macdonell, Stephen G.
Item type
Degree name
Master of Computer and Information Sciences
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Auckland University of Technology

In modern agile software development environments, teamwork is the core of software development. Good collaboration of development teams can improve productivity, which contributes to the success of an organization’s product development. Team productivity can be negatively affected by several factors, and a common situation that can have a negative effect on collaboration and productivity is a new person joining an existing team. There are many possible onboarding strategies and practices and ideally, these are personalised to a particular context so that a new team member becomes integrated and productive in a way that is rapid and motivating. However, effective onboarding continues to be challenging to software development teams and is growing in prevalence, as the demand for software development expertise, and hence new team members increase. The need for onboarding support is particularly amplified when the new team member is a recent graduate who is new to the organisation as well as the team, and it is this situation that is being investigated. Previous research (Yang, 2017) has provided insights into what team onboarding practices were prevalent in local organisations and the expected outcomes of these practices, within the context of agile software development teams. The objective of that research was to guide the employers’ designs of onboarding strategies for desired outcomes for a particular team context. The research in this thesis adds another perspective: that of the prospective new team members. Imminent graduates in software development are representative of this view, with a variety of experience and expectations. The approaches taken to discover the expectations for onboarding support from the perception of students are based on both online survey and semi-structured interview approaches. The expected onboarding support including activities, resources and durations were mainly gathered from the analysis of online surveys of 58 students from different institutions in New Zealand, along with and the preferences for the current onboarding activities used in practice from the statistical analysis of these students’ responses. The onboarding goals were identified from the semi-structured interviews with 10 students from Auckland University of Technology. The results show that there is some onboarding support different from the perception of practitioners identified in Yang (2017). For example, quite many students expected to work in a comfortable and friendly team environment and the physical materials like laptop were expected be provided. In addition, students’ perceptions for expected onboarding goals of the activities used in current agile development teams turned out to be significantly different, compared to the practitioners’ perceptions in Yang (2017), and some possible reasons were discussed to explain the differences. This thesis helps the agile development teams understand the expectations for onboarding support from the perception of students and the differences from the practitioners’ perceptions in Yang (2017), which can guide the employers to provide effective onboarding approaches for new graduate employees to maximize the success of onboarding, and thereby improving the productivity of the teams and organizations.

Agile , Software Development , Onboarding , Expectation
Publisher's version
Rights statement