Insight Blog

How to Develop an Onboarding Plan

by Frank Carrera

April 8, 2021 | How To...

Imagine joining a project team knowing in the back of your head that 75% of team members admit that their projects are either always or usually “doomed right from the start.” (GENECA, January 2017).  As a new team member, that isn’t very motivational, but wouldn’t you want to setup a new team member for success right off the bat and get off to a great start?

I recently onboarded a new team member to my current engagement – a Workplace by Facebook digital employee engagement for a large US-based corporation with retail stores across the United States. I was able to leverage my previous onboarding experience and developed a very simple Onboarding Plan which you can also develop for your new project team members.

The purpose of the Onboarding Plan is to help assimilate a new project team member to the overall project, set them up for success and deliver value to the client as quickly as possible. It should be detailed enough to get them started but also not so extensive that it will overwhelm the new team member to the point they can’t focus on the important aspects of the project. The Onboarding Plan had three key elements:

Key Stakeholders – Business & Technology: Sharing an organizational chart is a good start for a new team member to understand the overall organization. But more important than the titles are the roles that each key stakeholder performs on the project. Understanding who makes key decisions regarding launch readiness or who approves deliverables is critical to make sure you can meet any project concerns they may have. Third party technology vendors are just as critical for any project and at times lead key architecture and solution deployment aspects. Knowing key technology stakeholders – whether internal or external are also key to know during the onboarding process for new team members. Finally, in addition to just know the key stakeholders, the Onboarding Plan should identify those people that the new team member could turn to based on what they may be struggling with and turn to a leader who can assist.

Personality and Working Styles: Knowing the names, titles or project roles of key stakeholders is typically not enough while working on highly visible projects or initiatives. New team members should also be aware of a stakeholder’s power and influence as well as their personal working style (e.g., responsiveness to emails on weekends, early riser or works late at night). Do they like to hash things out in a team meeting, or do they prefer to take things off-line and address them one on one? Additionally, sharing a Stakeholder Map with the new project team member would be very beneficial for them to understand the “influence” and “power” dynamics of the various key stakeholders. For more on “How to Develop a Stakeholder Map”, feel free to read a previous LSA blog here.

Overall Solution & Business Objectives: Depending on the new team member’s focus area, the Onboarding Plan should include at least a high-level overview of the solution being implemented and the key business objectives or benefits the project is looking to attain for the organization. Understanding why the project is being done or understanding if this is client’s strategic effort will also help new team member realize its importance.  Again, the purpose of the Onboarding Plan is to make sure the new team member is setup for success.

Besides, the three key items for the Onboarding Plan shown above, other areas you may consider to include are project tools & process information, a summary of the new team members previous experiences that may be applicable to their role, and finally contacts for assistance or escalation.  As a leader, providing the newly onboarded team member with an Onboarding Plan isn’t just a one-time exercise. With my new team member, I scheduled a daily 15-minute standup for the 2 of us for the 1st two weeks. This not only allows the new team member to ask questions about any of the provided material, but it also allows for timely feedback to the new team member from key stakeholders or existing project team members.

The ability to reduce the number of days during onboarding to being “productive” is important for either large or small initiatives. With team members onboarding through-out the life cycle of a project, you want them to contribute to your project as quick as possible (and be setup for success) so invest the time to develop an Onboarding Plan for your team members.

For more information on how Lake Shore Associates can help you with your next large digital initiative or program, visit