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The new onboarding? Is pre-boarding the secret to starting effective IT project talent


Fewer than half of new employees (44%) report a positive experience after joining a new company. Ouch!! If you’re a hiring manager – that’s got to hurt!

Now, when I started my career, an employer would probably have shrugged at this and suggested that their new hires should toughen up and deal with it. These days it’s different. We know now how a positive onboarding process can boost productivity, reduce talent turnover and, in short, can mean that you start seeing a return on investment (ROI) from your new hire in the fastest possible time.

Nine out of ten new hires spend their first six months deciding whether to commit to their new employer and first impressions are really important. Without access to the business’ network, an ID badge to get around the building, or knowing where the kettle and toilets are (never underestimate the value of brews and loos to a fresh employee) a new hire might not stick around – leaving you with the hassle and expense of having to recruit again.

Beyond your admirable care for your new hire’s mental health and wellbeing and your desire to not have to start the hiring process again in six months, there’s another stunningly good reason to get onboarding right, I mentioned it already, ROI.

Especially in IT Projects where value is measured by the minute (not across a six-month period!) having your new hire hit the ground running has never mattered more. Companies that don’t have an effective onboarding strategy are leaking value from the moment their new hire signs on the dotted line.

Bruce Harpham (the founder of recalls once being that new guy, “Years ago, I started a new job. It was exciting to walk in, meet new people and find my way around a new building. The good news: The people I worked with were welcoming and happy to share their insights with me. The bad news: I had no access to the corporate network for over a week. That means no email.”

Writing for, Bruce adds, “Fortunately, I made up for that limitation by reading printed materials and meeting people. Still, the lack of computer access slowed down my productivity.”

Bruce Harpham’s piece about onboarding is worth a read.


It is something that at Stoneseed we take very seriously. And with good reason! Stoneseed provides talent and resources through a PMaaS (Project Management as a Service) model and we wanted that talent to start delivering value the minute they walk through your door.

Pre-Onboarded Project Management as a Service Talent

Given that less than half of new employees report a positive experience after joining a new organisation, you’d imagine it’s even harder to assimilate short term PMaaS talent into your company and its culture. At Stoneseed we’ve thought about this. It is in everyone’s interests that PMaaS talent hits the ground running: for you, there’s the obvious ROI considerations; the PMaaS talent wants to get in, deliver success and move on; and Stoneseed wants you to be so happy with the service that you come back time after time and spread the word!

With this in mind, we created a pre-boarding mindset! AND we come at this from two angles:

1 - We really get to know you!!

Much of the success of onboarding comes when, on day one, talent joins you feeling like they already know you, your culture and generally how you and your team operates. This is as important for PMaaS talent as it is for your in-house new hires.

At Stoneseed we’ll come into your business and conduct a workshop during which we chat, in depth, with you and your people. We find out about your culture and processes, really drill down on what it is that makes you tick and what a new person entering this set up would need to do to fit in.

2 – We get to know the talent and fully brief them about you!!

Our onboarding of IT Project talent is as thorough and robust as you’d expect your own to be when starting on a new employee.

Stoneseed’s onboarding processes for our PMaaS talent ensure they are aligned with your culture. We get to know our people as people, this way, having got to know your culture and current operational needs we can send the right person who will slot right in!

They arrive fully briefed, ready to start and knowing what their role in your success is – you may just have to point them at those brews and loos.

Onboarding PMaaS Talent Makes Senses All Round

The thing is, Stoneseed’s pre-boarding mentality (and even just an effective onboarding strategy) delivers measurable results in terms of efficiency and ROI, it’s amazing how many firms overlook it! There less measurable ‘touchy-feely’ indicators too, new starters regularly report poor sleep or even totally sleepless nights as they approach their first day, it can have a massive emotional impact, whereas Stoneseed’s PMaaS talent are chomping at the bit, ready, prepared and keen to get started.

Recent research showed that businesses with a pre-boarding process retain over 8 out of 10 (81%) of first-year hires.

Based on our experience of delivering onboarded PMaaS talent into IT Project organisations and some of the best practice that we’ve seen from our clients, I present …

Stoneseed’s top tips for onboarding IT project talent

1 - Engagement leads to longer-term commitment

Engage with your new employees, tell them why they will fall in love with your company and the way you do business. Make them feel like they belong right from that very first offer letter, tell them how they’ll fit your culture. We do this with PMaaS talent, explaining why they’ll fit in subconsciously accentuates those strengths and idiosyncrasies in a person’s character and behaviours.

When pre-boarding talent you can consider including a timeline for their first day or week with you, turning up knowing what’s instore lowers anxiety levels and increases anticipation – my friend recently started at a new organisation and ten minutes into his first day he was whisked off, unprepared, to meet the CEO. Imagine that!

2 - Make day one fun!!

Make their first day one that they’ll remember. Not a boring snore-fest! Don’t introduce them to everyone all at once - avoid a barrage of names they’ll never remember! Don’t sit them in front of a welcome video or online tutorial and just leave them to it! Most of all, make all of their onboarding relevant to what they will be doing for you (my friend is a radio presenter and when he joined the BBC he had to take part in a health and safety online tutorial about how to safely film bees in the Himalayas – he thought it was a first day prank or a joke on a hidden camera show but no! He said. “This’ll come in handy on a mid-morning local radio show”).

3 - Project Management Office buddy

Consider assigning your new hire an ‘office buddy’ before they join you. The office buddy concept really helps new recruits navigate their first week. Put them in contact before the start day so your new talent arrives already knowing someone working in the business. It just makes their initial experience enjoyable and comfortable, rather than anxious, daunting and all new!! Plus, it’s good to have someone to go to with any questions that your new hire may not feel comfortable asking a hiring manager or project leader.

4 – Start training from day one

Over three-quarters of employees (76%) believe that training is the most important factor in settling into a new gig. So, start training on systems and processes, brand and culture as soon as possible – we’d recommend on the first afternoon of the first day. This way, as your new hire contemplates their first day on the train going home or while eating their celebratory take-away, they feel that their journey with you has truly begun. It’s one of the things that we encourage with clients taking PMaaS talent and, actually, one of the things that we often take care of when ‘pre-boarding’ so that your incoming PMaaS resources hit the ground running!

5 – Set them up on systems before they start

Many of Stoneseed’s clients are really good at onboarding, over the years we've learned a lot from each other. Some set new hires and PMaaS talent up on Slack or Yammer before they start so they can log in and get a feel for the place ahead of joining, some create corporate emails so that new recruits can start to make introductions, join in conversations or just observe from a safe distance.

Companies that do the above (and other fabulous onboarding initiatives) are the ones that yield the greatest success from a new hire.

And it is these greater successes that inspire Stoneseed’s pre-boarding mentality when delivering PMaaS solutions. It’s a wonderful domino effect, great first days lead to great second days, which lead to great third days and so on until your IT Project is delivered into service.

Onboarding is relatively inexpensive to implement but the value it delivers is priceless. That’s why you’ll find onboarding running through every Stoneseed PMaaS placement.

I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to find out more.


Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed


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June 2020

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