How to Build Momentum During Project Onboarding

At Atomic, many project teams function under a hybrid model of work-from-home and in-office attendance. Because of this, communication is key to not only project onboarding but also to maintaining a healthy work environment.

With project onboarding, I like to use the analogy of a relay race. There’s a project “kickoff.” Then there’s “passing the baton” to get local environments working, and of course, a finish line when everyone’s finally ready to start developing! Funny enough, in Agile, we also develop in “sprints.” Pretty “punny,” right? Here’s how that works.

Kick off together.

At the start of any project, things are the most unstable. After all, everything’s new! It’s important for everyone to “show up” both mentally and physically for each other. Things move fast when everyone’s trying to get development-ready.

Showing up physically looks like occupying a familiar space. This space can be laid out in any way as long as it’s comfortable. Currently, everyone has desks near each other so asking questions and pairing are that much easier! In a work-from-home scenario, showing up physically can also look like the willingness to hop on a call or a Slack huddle, or respond to questions diligently.

Showing up mentally is the hard part. For me, that means anticipating problems and getting ready to roll with the punches, knowing that other developers are here to support me. Likewise, it also means lending a hand and halting my own progress to help someone else! No man left behind.

Pass the baton.

Oftentimes, setting up several local environments at once across different machines will not be linear. It can involve a lot of backtracking and stop-and-go support.

When one person is finished with a certain phase of project onboarding, any previous hiccups are easy to remember and overcome. It’s important to check in on the team before moving too far ahead in case others are stuck. Showing up physically here is super important because important details won’t fall through the cracks if there’s an open forum to build a foundation.

Full sprint ahead!

You made it this far. Great! Everyone has their local environments set up and is ready to start development. The immediate instinct is to pick up some work, but this isn’t always the right thing to do. We’re trying to build momentum. We’re trying to last a marathon.

These past few days, everyone has worked closely together to build this foundation of security and communication. If we all went off doing solo work (in a brand new codebase), there’s a risk that some of that could crumble. The project is still very new for everyone, and there’s a lot to learn about the nuances of the codebase.

So, why not build off that foundation for now? While total independent development is a plausible option as long as some things are kept in mind, it might be worthwhile to pair or work in parallel with others throughout the day. Keep the knowledge flow running!

Build momentum during project onboarding.

There are many ways to tackle project onboarding. Each team is different and it’s important to make adjustments as needed to suit dynamic needs. By encouraging and supporting one another, anyone can help create an atmosphere with self-renewing momentum that uplifts the team as a whole.


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