The process of onboarding new team members on existing projects can be challenging, especially when it is experiencing rapid growth and/or it involves big teams, lots of documentation and several communication channels. In this note, we present how automating onboarding through Slack workflows can save time and improve the efficiency of the process.
When working on a fast-growing startup project at Ensolvers, the team experienced an increase in the number of new members (and thus, onboardings) each week. Each onboarding included introducing each new member to the team, explaining the project, assigning a coach, preparing tools and providing follow-up required a lot of time and energy. As a manager of the team, the need to find an efficient solution arose.
Slack Workflows proved to be an excellent tool to automate the onboarding process. The tool is easy to use and allows you to set up automations based on triggers and workflows. In this case, the trigger was a new member of the project which, from Slack’s workflows perspective, equals to a new member on the channel.
The onboarding automation was divided into several steps and workflows:
1. Automated message on the channel inviting everyone on the team to welcome the new person
2. An automatic welcome message is sent to the new member only, followed by a superficial explanation of the project, links to the core documentation and the main channels.
3. A message is sent to a channel composed by coaches in the team, where members are invited to volunteer to coach for the new member. Once someone accepts, they are automatically provided with all the necessary documentation to prepare the new member's working tools, saving the usual searching time for explanations.
4. An automatic message is sent to the team manager, reminding him to prepare all the necessary credentials for the new member to access the code repositories.
5. The new member is invited to an internal site with documentation to assist in understanding the project. A recorded lecture explaining in detail the project and its main challenges is also provided.
6. Once the new member indicates that they have completed reading the documentation, the coach is alerted to contact him and follow-up begins.
To achieve this in a natural way, Slack Workflows offers several features like parameterizing the name of the new member, the channels, the person clicking the button to become the coach, etc. All this is stored in variables that can be used in the messages. Also, you can have several message paths based on which button the person who received the message presses. The number of things that can be automated with this tool is enormous and it resulted very intuitive to build a flow that is friendly for the new person and, at the same time, does not feel like a "cold" process despite being triggered by a pre-programmed flow.
Automating onboarding through Slack workflows proved to be an effective solution to the team's growth problem on the onboarding and management end since it saved time and energy in the process of onboarding new team members. In addition, the solution was refined based on feedback from new members, resulting in an optimized version of the onboarding process that is giving good results not only on this project but also in new ones implementing it. The tool is very easy to use and can be applied to any type of communication in an organization.