Dave Larribee has a great post, The High Cost of Losing a Developer. (Discovered via an ericlandes tweet)
Dave suggested it might take a couple of years investment in terms of salary to make a developer productive. My experience is that it takes about 6 months of that developer and some number of months of other people. You can short-cut some of that cost by:
- Creating a buddy system when you hire or move a new person into a team
- Providing training about the code, the product, the process
- Go to conferences so you can see what's going on in the industry
- Creating learning opportunities as a group each week or so, such as a lunch-and-learn
- Starting a reading group and read a chapter in a book and discuss it once a week
Informal training is great and has little cash cost. The person explaining what's going on will take time away from his or her work to prepare, and the other people benefit tremendously. Reading groups have a small cost.
I'm always surprised when people tell me that they want to keep their per-head cost of training under some number. That number is generally less than a person-day of loaded labor.
I'm also surprised when people tell me they can't buy books because they are “too expensive.” Publishers have sales all the time (see the current Prag sale), and sometimes Amazon sells my books so cheaply I don't understand how they make money. If a company thinks books are too expensive, they haven't thought about the cost of ignorance.
Good recruiters cost more out-of-pocket money, but are worth their cost if they bring you candidates that fit the role.