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Getting a new colleague started on your Scrum project

By 1 november 2013januari 30th, 2017No Comments

Let me share some experiences when introducing a new colleague to the team and getting him or her quickly integrated.

On my current job we’re expanding rapidly with the amount of Scrum teams. Project leads and architects are shoving all kinds of intakes around and it’s not uncommon to have several new software developers or testers start each week. When I myself settled in with another colleague we found ourselves in a busy period, where none of the existing teams actually had any time to explain which accounts and permissions to request to what system from what department to be able to dour jobs. If you’ve ever started in somewhat Enterprisy environment, it might look familiar.

Getting started

At the end of the first Sprint of not really being able to have any participation in the Sprint itself, we did produce a Getting Started page on the company wiki, listing 15+ internal systems (JIRA, Nexus, Jenkins, SharePoint etc.) to request access to and several internal project-mailinglists to subscribe to. We’ve encoded the complete contents of each please-give-me-access-email on that wiki page under 15+ mailto:-links, allowing anyone new to click each link, adjust the new email-message opening in an Outlook-popup, put his his or her name at the end in the “Kind regards, {name}” placeholder and send it out to the various departments.

Let’s say the first new team member to arrive was Mary. It was nice to know that Mary could work through the list as soon as he or she had a laptop and an Outlook-account in under half an hour on Day 1 since then. She works the Getting Started page from top to bottom, clicks each email-to-department-X-link, fills in her name (we couldn’t quite work out how to pull her login-name from the wiki and fill that in automatically…yet) and press Send. The various departments themselves took between half an hour and a week of responding with proper credentials. If your in a smaller company chances are your system administrator is sitting across the desk and can pull up or create all necessary accounts on the fly. If you’re in luck to have a projectlead or HR officer who cares, accounts already have been requested a week ago, provided and ready and waiting in some nice envelope.

As a team, we want Mary to…

So what happens after Mary is done working through the Getting Started page? Usually Mary would have been pointed to some low-priority bug lingering around to pick up, or left alone to get the application you’re working on up ’n running to click around a bit. To take a more structured approach we thought up a few things we as a team find important for a new member of the team. We create an Introduction-story in the current sprint with a few tasks associated with it. Since Mary is a developer these are:

  • Introduction model, application and code
  • Introduction test process and Cucumber
  • Introduction Jenkins, Sonar and Fortify
  • Introduction system landscape, environments and releases
  • Introduction sprint rhythm and theme/epic/story process

We assign the story to Mary. The individual tasks all contain some additional details which are appropriate to your project, such as for us e.g. the “Introduction model, application and code” task said:

“Cover Astah model, application structure, WebSphere application server and Maven modules in general. After that: show primary domain entities in model and code. Explain Spring MVC and Backbone models en views.”

Mary should know who to go to in the team for each of these tasks, so – we’re using JIRA – we set each of our team members who is willing to help Mary with each of these particular subjects as the reporter of the task. If you’re using paper notes, you could write it in the corner. Per task and team member it should take no more than half an hour, so any interruptions to the current sprint are minimal and the work is divided across the team.


Mary has a feeling she’s working with the team from the start and can show progress right away. We as a team know she’ll be properly equipped with what we find is important, when the time comes for her to actually start on something which was planned in the sprint. Hopefully you’re able to do something in a similar fashion – if that works for your environment and team.

So, how do you settle in a new Mary?