Technological innovations have made organizations more dependent on their IT teams than ever before. As a result, many technology leaders have been asked to gain a deeper understanding of how businesses work with the goal of maximizing effectiveness and productivity. The recent rise of DevOps software has an additional layer to competency demands within IT organizations, with communication skills becoming more important than ever before.The success of DevOps automation hinges on getting your development and operations teams to work together - something that requires cultural and procedural changes and adaptation. The amount of communication required to making these changes happen can seem overwhelming, but these four tips will help lay the groundwork for a sustainable DevOps communication plan:
1. Build Your Team's Soft Skills
Stereotypes about the typical IT worker are not flattering when it comes to interpersonal skills. Whether it's the anti-social systems administrator or the unkempt engineer, you've probably heard your fair share of negative IT stereotypes. Although there may be the occasional person who falls into the stereotypical IT generalization, most IT professionals have plenty of skills that go beyond the understanding of how technology works.
You need your DevOps team members to communicate well with one another, developing soft skills to put your team in the best position possible to collaborate effectively and develop strong working relationships.Finding success depends on identifying the soft skills already present in your staff, exploring ways to accentuate those abilities, and develop training materials that help address areas of opportunity. It is vital that you establish training in communication skills, how to lead and participate in team meetings effectively, how to communicate complex IT principles to business users, and how to use collaboration tools that your organization may utilize.
2. Create Visibility Without Generating Operational Overhead
The sheer number of tasks that need to be completed in a DevOps environment can put a halt to any communication efforts. You need to build a system of processes that enables your teams to find time to collaborate. Working together with other teams is more than getting through assigned tasks, so you need to make sure your operational framework frees your team to take the time to collaborate without having to make significant sacrifices during the work day.
DevOps often leads to continuous integration - an operational climate in which applications and services are being released, updated, patched or otherwise altered with a high frequency. This leaves your development and operations teams facing an overwhelming number of tasks that need to be planned, documented and tracked. Creating visibility is critical as organizations are trying to make DevOps work by creating enough oversight to protect against regulatory breaches while establishing processes that enable teams to keep up with the frenetic pace of operations.
Making process improvements driven by change management technologies and similar IT service management tools can establish a foundation for major process improvements, giving your team the operational efficiency needed to help them find time for collaboration and other tasks that are specific to DevOps strategies.Modern change management solutions are being designed to resolve these specific problems; Change management technologies will automatically document and track each change, no matter how small, so that team members can quickly undo any tasks that lead to problems or unexpected consequences. As such, change advisory boards (CABs) and managers can let teams handle the vast majority of change tasks with minimal oversight and analyze changes in retrospect. Becoming proactive about change can accelerate processes while still protecting organizations against regulatory and stability problems.
3. Emphasize Time Management
Improving communication and process excellence eventually comes down to a need for the establishment of effective time management principles within an IT organization. The use of DevOps leads to change in terms of how people work, why they organize their tasks in different ways and what they are asked to do in their job role. Your team may need to change long-held habits, tweak schedules and alter the way they pace their day to keep up
Getting your team to change isn't the only thing that goes into improving time management in response to DevOps. You also need to think about how your organizational culture is affecting how your people are working. Are you expecting your team to attend so many meetings that they can't really manage their time well enough to get basic tasks done? Are there too many interruptions coming up each day, making it difficult for employees to focus?
Effective time management isn't just a matter of improving processes or about making sure people are being productive and professional at all times. It comes down to combining organizational and individual excellence to give your team the flexibility to work as efficiently as possible. Your team must have the freedom to find the methods that work for them while maintaining enough structure to keep motivated and on the same page. Good time management can be the result of finding balance in these areas and will ensure your development teams have time to get close to end users and create a foundation for excellence.
4. Work Smarter
Adaptation and change to work processes, making sure your team stays focused on the right tasks, and are positioned to work efficiently are major keys to DevOps being successful. This is where data comes into play, with business intelligence solutions giving you the information you need to:
- Understand how app releases will create new demands for employees - I.E. how many work hours go into releasing a new app versus making updates or performing patches.
- Identify the ways your employees collaborate and how effective those methods are.
- Track KPIs to ensure your strategies are delivering the results you want, and identify areas where the strategy is faltering.
- Gain a deeper understanding of how IT efforts are impacting the business and adjust accordingly.
The DevOps movement emphasizes continuous integration and improved collaboration to ensure IT capabilities align with business requirements. With analytics providing additional insight into operations that are needed for strategic decisions, making the right choices in how you develop your DevOps strategies will position your team to collaborate effectively.
Communication is key to any strategy. Your team won't communicate well if they are so bogged down that they can't find time to collaborate with their peers. By combining strategic skill and process development with superb time management and the insights created by data, you can ensure that your team will have time to communicate with each other.