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I am a Agile Coach for a cross-platform team of developers. It was announced that the team would be acquiring 2 new members. These 2 new members will be spending 1 week with the team in person and then going back offshore to work remotely.

What activities would be beneficial for introducing new team members to an Agile team?

  • Other than not working in a different country than the rest of the team? – RubberDuck Jan 2 '18 at 23:39
  • As written, this question is extremely open-ended and rather subjective. List-generating questions are always off-topic on PMSE. It's generating some good answers, but that doesn't make the question any less problematic. I'm going to close the question so it can be improved by the OP or the community, but I think there's an important (and salvageable!) underlying question here. – Todd A. Jacobs Jan 3 '18 at 19:41
  • @ToddA.Jacobs I agree it is definitely list generating, but I think on boarding is a important concept for an agile coach to get good at but alas I cannot think of a way of asking this question differently ;) – TheLearner Jan 9 '18 at 17:13
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There are three areas I'd consider when introducing new team members.

1) The Work: A week is not much time to get used to working together. Pairing or group/mob programming could be a great way to bring them up to speed on the way the team works and code practices. It may slow the team down a bit for the week, but not nearly as much as trying to onboard onto a codebase from offshore.

2) The Team: If your team has a working agreement around how they communicate, definition of ready and done, code review, etc, you could share this with the new members ahead of time and then do a small recap in person. Again, this is just to avoid confusion and get conversations around that to be face-to-face.

3) Personal Connections: Like Axel's answer, give them time to create a personal connections. If your team and the new members are all ok with drinking, happy hour can be a great option. Potluck lunches can be good too - whatever fits the team's and new team members' culture. This will really pay off when conflicts arise later.

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Any activity could be ok. I don't think it is necessary something extraordinary, simple events can be a good solution.

Probably the best would be, even before they start to work with the team, to invite the entire team (basic + 2 new members) for some drink and/or food. A relaxed and relaxing environment might help chats, some initial knowledge, some interests sharing, maybe also work / dev related.

I saw it working pretty well as an ice-breaker with new members for some of my teams. I would go this way.

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Making the best use of the presence of offshore team members

As @axel said an informal get together with the team is, of course, the best way to start. In addition, the following will help:

  1. Setting up the dev environment: Get them to set up the dev environment in their laptop and let them get started with some checking in/out code while they are in the office. Also, let them try out the VPN from their Hotel room. This will avoid needing to troubleshoot any permission issues when they are remote.

  2. Scrum ceremonies: It will be good if they can participate in person in all the Scrum ceremonies (Backlog Refinement, Sprint Review, Retrospective and Planning) while they are there in person.

  3. Story point estimation: In my experience, story point estimation has been a sticky issue for new team members, even if they are already familiar with Scrum. This is because story points are relative and what one team calls a 3 may not be the same for another team. Also, things like whether you use 0 point stories and what it means.

  4. White-boarding: It is well established that the most effective communication channel for dev teams is discussion with the help of a white-board. This is the hardest to do while offshore. So, take advantage of their presence and arrange for some white-boarding of existing / proposed architecture / roadmap... etc.

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In a 1-week window when new members will be working together with team is a good enough time frame to inform new team members about "Ground rules" about project and project team.

You can discuss multiple diverse topics such as 1. acceptable code of conduct, 2. inter team-communication channels and protocols, 3. meeting etiquette 4. overview of project scope, schedule, quality and risks

Ground rules establish clear expectations regarding acceptable behaviour by project team members. Early commitment to clear guidelines decreases misunderstandings and increases overall productivity of the team.

This clarity on ground rules of project and team allows team members to discover values that are important to one another.

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Apart from socialising/team building I've found pair-programming to be the best way to get new team members up to speed.

It's better to ask questions looking at the live codebase, and it means that the person working with them can quickly get a feel for how they prefer to work.

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