How to effectively implement an engineering onboarding program.

Optimizing Engineering Onboarding: A Guide to Building a Successful Program

Companies often state that it takes three to six months for newly hired engineers to become fully ramped up. However, most engineering leaders believe that it takes longer for new engineers to become fully productive. Additionally, the most impactful engineers continue to become more productive even after years with the company. Therefore, effective engineering onboarding is crucial to optimizing productivity.

In this guide, we will explore the fundamental components of engineering onboarding, the roles required in an onboarding process, the curriculum to consider, reasons why onboarding programs fail, whether to integrate with a wider company onboarding process, and when to prioritize onboarding.

Engineering Onboarding Fundamentals and Examples

To establish a successful onboarding process, it is essential to staff a few roles (executive sponsor, orchestrator, manager, buddy) and determine the specific curriculum to include. The following are examples of real-world engineering onboarding implementations:

Digg: The onboarding process involved getting a company-branded t-shirt and laptop, introduction to teammates, and familiarity with integration environments.

Facebook: The company runs a six-week Engineering Bootcamp attended by every new engineering and engineering management hire. The boot camp focuses on facilitating team selection between new hires and Facebook’s teams, teaching new hires Facebook’s approach to development, and working directly on Facebook’s software.

Stripe: The first-day focus was on laptop setup, security practices, and familiarity with Stripe’s development tools. New engineering hires go through a curriculum ranging from architecture to observability. The final step involves grouping new hires into teams to work on projects together.

Roles in Onboarding Programs

Onboarding programs require ongoing care and attention, making it necessary to consider the roles required to operate such programs. The following is a breakdown of the roles essential to an effective engineering onboarding process:

Executive Sponsor: This role is necessary for onboarding’s success. As an engineering executive, serve as onboarding’s executive sponsor by selecting the program orchestrator to operate and evolve the program, aligning with the orchestrator on how to monitor the program over time, monitoring the program data monthly, meeting directly with new hires who have a good or bad experience, and celebrating the program’s success.

Program Orchestrator: This role translates organizational resources into a living program. Develop and maintain the program’s curriculum, evolve the program incrementally over time based on participant feedback and outcomes, coordinate each onboarding class to ensure it runs effectively, create onboarding templates that fit the curriculum, and are used by each new hire’s manager to continue their onboarding beyond the program itself.

Team Manager: While onboarding focuses on getting new hires off to a productive start, the team manager is ultimately responsible for the new hire’s long-term success.

Onboarding Buddy: This role pairs new hires with experienced employees to provide guidance and support in their onboarding process.

Curriculum to Consider

The specific curriculum to include varies depending on the company’s needs and culture. For instance, some companies may prioritize architecture, observability, or security practices. However, every onboarding process should include the following:

– Introduction to the company’s culture, values, and mission
– Overview of the company’s product or service
– Introduction to coworkers and the new hire’s role
– Training on the company’s tools and processes
– Shadowing an experienced employee
– Feedback and communication channels

Why Onboarding Programs Fail

The following are some reasons why onboarding programs may fail:

– Lack of executive support and investment
– Overreliance on standard company onboarding process
– Lack of clear goals and metrics
– Inadequate training or curriculum
– Poor matching of mentors and new hires

Integrating with a Wider Company Onboarding Process

Consider integrating engineering onboarding with the broader company’s onboarding process. This approach ensures new hires understand the company’s culture and values, as well as their critical role in achieving the company’s mission.

When to Prioritize Onboarding

Effective onboarding is crucial in rapidly hiring companies. As such, it should be considered a high-value investment in engineering productivity and prioritized as such.


Establishing an effective engineering onboarding program involves staffing the necessary roles, determining the appropriate curriculum, and integrating it with the broader company’s onboarding process where applicable. Proper attention and investment in onboarding programs can lead to employee success and productivity, making it a worthwhile investment for any company.

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