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Tips to Leverage Your Dedicated Software Development Team Onboarding and Knowledge Transfer
With the need to expand an organization’s tech capacity and increase productivity, the strategies for acquiring an outsourced team are constantly growing in today's organizations. When it comes to having a dedicated software development team, the engagement approach should be highly concentrated since it strongly influences the engagement's success. These initial phases often include a complex range of activities, such as transferring technology and knowledge from client organization to vendor partner and jointly implementing governance frameworks, which reveal opportunities for process re-engineering- standardization, and optimization.
To help you kick-start the engagement more effectively, this article will walk you through three essential phases of hiring the dedicated software development team: Initiation, Onboarding & Knowledge Transfer, and Steady State with agile delivery governance in place for execution.
The initiation stage is prior to the official start and for both sides to be well-prepared for the upcoming assignments. It typically takes a week for this phase with four main activities:
- Resource ramp-up for a core team: With all the critical roles defined, the core team and its leadership are formed, with the ability to grasp the knowledge/requirements swiftly, ensure the project follows the key success factors provided, and support team members effectively ramp up.
- Access to environment and documentation: The core team should now have access to the environments (VPN, Dev, QA, etc..) in preparation for the product exploration. Ensuring all needed documents related to the product knowledge, development, testing, deployments, etc. are available to the team in order to facilitate familiarization with the product and thorough knowledge acquisition.
- Access to related tools and technology stack: All available tool sets for daily work, including but not limited to Task management, Collaboration, Development, Testing, and DevOps supporting the team to collaborate and manage the task themselves
- Kick-off: The official joint-team meeting is required for both sides to understand the roles and responsibilities of each team member, development process, communication approach, collaboration, and other open items that need to be addressed, making the joint team aligned and on the same page prior to the official start.
2. Onboarding and Knowledge Transition
In many projects, the Ramp-up & Knowledge Transition Plan is essential as it assists clients and dedicated software development teams in understanding, capturing, transferring, and protecting knowledge effectively. When the Initiation phase is completed, based on the defined plan, the Onboarding and Knowledge transition phase will be executed accordingly.
During this period, the ramp plan can be adjusted with flexibility depending on the situation while ensuring the product knowledge transfer occurs within the timeline defined. For a greenfield project, the resource ramp-up concentrates mostly on ensuring skills and project training, and these must be well-equipped within a week prior to officially joining the project team.
Normally, it takes 2-3 months to gather a full team of 25-30 resources and be able to fully own the product knowledge and take the work independently. So how is the product knowledge transition handled by the team?
Product Exploration (2-4 weeks)
At this stage, the team needs to have general knowledge regarding product overview, vision, and roadmap through videos, documentation, etc. They are also required to learn the product architecture overview, the deployment topology, and the infrastructure to start getting involved in the technical aspects.
To gear up for the next stage of getting deeper into the details of the product and technical knowledge, the team will need to explore the existing development practices to be applied correctly by developers and the team, IDEs and development tools being used, and guidelines for how to set up, run and debug the program, how to build and deploy the product, any 3rd party integration. Besides, testers and the team will need to learn and implement testing practices for the testing techniques such as manual, automation, API, performance/load testing, etc. Finally, the team also begins setting up the environment and is ready to examine the code base/scripts in preparation for the next stage of understanding the product in detail.
Product In Depth (2-4 weeks)
After understanding the basic concept of the product, as well as development and testing practices, it’s time for the dedicated software development team to dig deeper into the product’s architecture, feature mind-map, product flow diagram; product themes, epics, and user-story mapping that provide a detailed view into the product functionalities.
To gain technical insights, the team initially considers the component-level design, fully capturing the details of the product's technical design as well as how it is deployed to the various environments after getting tested. DevOps practices are also crucial aiming to roll out the product with speed and in a lean manner. So, any CI/CD pipeline available should be well followed and enhanced by the team to support the time-to-market goal. How production support is handled and managed by the team with the defined process and workflow in place should be learned carefully in order to own the product end-to-end.
At this stage, resources following the ramp plan should be prepared and augmented so the core team can start their development work immediately since product knowledge is mostly captured.
Hands-On (4 weeks)
With all the knowledge fully equipped, the team now has to practice defects fixing and product feature development in accordance with the development process (e.g., Agile/Scrum) for sprint cycle execution and start delivering the fixes and product increments with the goal of handling the work independently. During this period, there are also chances for the team to fulfill any gap of knowledge or ad-hoc knowledge that was not fully captured before.
At this stage, when the team is familiar with the development work, the remaining resources of the ramp plan shall be increased gradually for proper cross-functional teams to be able to perform independently in a self-organizing manner and ready for the steady stage.
3. Steady State
When the team is completely onboarded with all the knowledge, tools, and hands-on experiences, the team can now start executing and delivering with its capacity and improving productivity over time following the Agile development process defined.
Moreover, the monthly operational review is needed to trace back and revisit the team performance and deliverables, as well as identify what needs to be done to optimize the process and practice, resulting in better productivity and quality outcomes for the next period.
The internal audit provided to the project team in terms of delivery, development, testing, and DevOps practices shall be conducted to address potentially unseen issues with a timely action plan to mitigate project risks and findings for continuous improvement. This phase will happen on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis, depending on the project’s requirements.
Although dedicated software development teams are now a ubiquitous phenomenon, and many corporations find this strategy to improve the development’s performance while ensuring the costs, some operational execution challenges may occur if you won’t have a robust phased engagement approach. Thus, having an experienced partner that can establish the process above effectively and is willing to help you make the utmost out of it is worth considering.
At KMS Solutions, we have sufficient capacity and breadth of expertise in onboarding with clients, knowledge transfer, and product delivery governance to operate and optimize the engagement process while delivering both instant and long-term advantages.