2015 / 12 February

10 things to do when onboarding a consultant

Royalty free image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net user Nujalee

Royalty free image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net user Nujalee

Find out how to get the most out of your money in the first days of a consulting mission.

As you know, I am working as a freelance .NET consultant. My missions are usually at least 6 months long. This means that during these missions I fill a role in a team just like an employee would be doing. I usually am doing a job for which my customer usually cannot hire an internal person either because it is a temporary role, or because he cannot find anyone, or because of internal policy or any other reason. The result is that I am getting on board just as an employee would… except that the onboarding in the company is not handled by the HR department, but by the manager of the team I am joining, which can make a quite big difference!

I am sometimes surprised on how my onboarding is handled during these missions. It goes from a several day training about the company and it’s objectives to a 10 minutes meeting explaining why I am here and what I must focus on.

On this post I’ll explain what I am expecting the onboarding will be for me do start working and being efficient as fast as possible. So what is the secret to a good onboarding? Preparation is!

Usually, when I start a new mission, it isn’t decided overnight. You usually have at least 1 month to prepare my onboarding, so please take a bit of your time to prepare it!  Let’s be pragmatic: here are a few things to prepare so the onboarding goes smoothly:

  1. Get me an access to what I need: to the building, request a user account, request the security clearance, request an email account, a phone line, access to the source code (TFS, VSS, SVN whatever) etc…
  2. Find a desk for me.
  3. If you are expecting me not to use my own computer, have one prepared for me. Having it fully installed would be great, but if it is not possible, at least make sure I can get the software I need to work (outlook is not always enough).
  4. Make sure that the computer you get for me is good enough for what I am requested to do. Usually a bottom line laptop will just not be ok. I need a good processing power and enough RAM (yes, more than 4GB would be nice). Remember that the time I lose because I have a crappy machine is time you are paying me for nothing.
  5. Prepare the documents you want me to read. If they are on a shared drive or a SharePoint site, make sure my user account has access to those. These documents are probably the functional & technical project documents, but also the coding guidelines used in your company, requirements etc.
  6. Point out the documents you feel are important that I read first. Having to go through dozens of documents before finding the relevant information is a loss of time!
  7. Prepare a list of people I need to know (for the project or for other purposes). If possible, let them know that I’ll be onboarding soon in order for them to know who I am and what I’ll be working on when I start.
  8. Prepare an explanation on how to book meeting rooms and any other resources I might need.
  9. Book a meeting room for my first day so we can have an open discussion on what you are expecting and all the other things you just couldn’t tell me at the interview.
  10. Prepare a written description of what you want me to do, with objectives, deliverables etc. (a mail will be fine)

As you can see all these things are not rocket science, they are just preparation. These are things you, as a manager can easily do or get done. If you don’t do anything of the above, don’t worry, I’ll manage it out myself, but as I don’t know my way around your company as well as you do, it will take me longer than you to get all these things done. And remember the reason you hired me, don’t you want me to get working on that ASAP?

Sending me some information before the mission starts is not bad, but don’t expect that I prepare anything before day 1, I am probably very busy with the offboarding on my previous mission!


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