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November 03, 2023

How to Develop and Improve Collaboration in DevOps Teams
bySam O'BrieninCommunity

DevOps is becoming more and more popular in the world of business. By streamlining the development and IT management processes, DevOps reduces organizational silos and produces a better final product or service for the customer.

However, DevOps is fundamentally reliant on strong collaboration. Without honest, open, and easy communication and shared working practices across your organization, DevOps will just be a buzzword. 

If you want to introduce a true DevOps philosophy and culture to your organization, read on to learn how to develop and introduce collaboration in your DevOps teams.

What is DevOps?

DevOps refers to a set of practices and philosophies that aim to overhaul the culture of your organization – that means it’s quite difficult to get your head around what DevOps actually is.

It can be useful to start with an example. Let’s say, for instance, that you create a remote desktop software for iPad. Under a DevOps model, the people managing that software will be the same overall team that developed it. This means that any issues can be easily resolved as the management team will be true experts in the software.

DevOps is best thought of as an approach to software development and management that aims to overcome the gap between the planning and programming stage and the implementation and feedback stage. Rather than splitting the overall development process between a programming team and an IT team, DevOps creates one streamlined operation.

This can help you to draw on a wider range of expertise and skills, remove barriers to truly creative collaboration, and develop more effective operations.

In order for an organization to use a DevOps model, you must be prepared to break down the traditional divide between development and operations teams. This can take a range of different forms: you might choose to merge both operations together into one team or you might choose to integrate even more teams, such as those responsible for managing websites.

Why is collaboration so important in DevOps?

Why is collaboration so important in DevOps?

Because DevOps is all about getting previously separate teams to work together, it shouldn’t be a surprise that effective collaboration is what makes or breaks a DevOps model.

As automation – tools that make DevOps easier by automating processes previously divided between development and operations teams – is a key part of DevOps, some companies prioritize automation over collaboration. However, you have to remember that the tools are only as good as the people who use them.

Collaboration and communication is important from the very beginning of a transition to DevOps. That’s because people are naturally resistant to change – explaining why you’re overhauling existing organizational structures can create buy-in among employees. At the same time, you should show how collaboration can work in practice to produce better outcomes.

Without effective collaboration running through your DevOps team, you can probably assume that your processes will soon end up simply operating as before: divided between development and operations teams.

How to improve DevOps collaboration: a step-by-step guide

If you’re using a DevOps structure, therefore, it’s pretty clear that you need to always be developing and improving collaboration. Without this, you won’t be seeing any of the benefits that come with DevOps. So how can you improve DevOps collaboration in your organization?

1) Identify any clear collaboration problems

Before you start making any changes to your DevOps processes, you should take a step back and consider what is already working well and what can be improved. If there are any immediate issues, such as problems with your online telephone service that prevent engineers from working with each other, you should prioritize those.

You should also talk with employees from across the DevOps team. Their experiences will dictate what you need to focus on as you look to improve collaboration. You could also use business analytics tools to establish the effectiveness of collaboration in your organization.

2) Increase the visibility of everyone’s work

Increase the visibility of everyone’s work

If you want people to work collaboratively on a project, they need to actually be able to see the work that is being done. Improving visibility should be a key part of any DevOps model – engineers should be able to see what each other is working on and the levels of progress across the team so that they know who to offer help to.

For some developers, this can be a daunting step. After all, it’s easy to feel protective or embarrassed about work in progress. However, full visibility will let everyone learn from what others are doing.

Achieving full visibility in the technology sector can be difficult. Despite this, you can improve visibility by finding a workflow software that lets the entire team see test results, feedback, and ongoing development. By encouraging engineers to download remote desktop connection tools, your team will be able to have visibility of each other’s work from anywhere in the world.

3) Remove barriers to information

In the traditional model of using separate development and operations teams, engineers who produced a piece of software wouldn’t have had access to most of the information about how that software worked in practice. This had a detrimental effect on their future work, as they couldn’t learn from their earlier efforts.

That’s why an important principle that supports any DevOps culture is free access to information. This is obviously true for information such as testing results but should also apply to your overall culture and mindset: if you work in an office, keep your door open during meetings.

While you’ll have to be careful to consider privacy and security regulations, try to grant open access to your data for all DevOps engineers. By having the same information to draw on, your engineers will find collaboration much easier.

On top of this, consider communication tools like transcription software. These can remove barriers for the entire DevOps team by ensuring everyone has access to notes from meetings and can search for and edit past meeting notes in collaborative documents.

4) Celebrate bravery

Celebrate bravery

Collaboration can be an intimidating concept, especially if your developers are used to working in small siloed teams. That’s why creating a culture of collaboration is so important. One great way to do this is by publicly celebrating those engineers and developers who were brave enough to experiment with other engineers.

You should point out that collaboration is often a risk; developers will be worried about failing publicly. Celebrating the process of collaboration – even if the outcomes are failures – can be a really powerful way to develop a collaborative mindset among your DevOps team.

This culture of collaboration is also important when it comes to hiring; you shouldn’t just rely on technical screening. Instead, look for potential employees who are able and willing to collaborate effectively.

5) Mix up your teams

Many companies fail at DevOps by pursuing a DevOps model in name only – they don’t actually integrate the development and operations teams. Sometimes, building a successful DevOps team will require you to specifically diversify the subteams that deal with certain problems.

If you’re new to DevOps, you might want to buddy up developers with operations engineers. Forcing them together will encourage a collaborative practice to develop, while also speeding up the process of integration between the two teams. You should carefully consider the different skills of your employees and buddy up those with contrasting experiences and strengths.

It’s also important that you consider how to have a varied range of perspectives across your DevOps team. With remote working tools like RealVNC becoming more and more sophisticated, you can hire the perfect people for your team without having to worry about their location – this means that you can easily diversify your DevOps team as you grow.

6) Cultivate a DevOps mindset from the very top

Cultivate a DevOps mindset from the very top

Whether you’re a developer or engineer working in a DevOps team, or a member of your company’s management team, you have a responsibility to grow the DevOps mindset through your words, actions, and working processes.

This is especially important for leaders – they should model what good collaborative work looks like in practice by being open, accessible, and approachable. They should respect the insights of every team member and encourage them to put forward their views and opinions.

An important part of encouraging the DevOps mindset from the top of the organization is by providing opportunities to upskill your employees. This can let team members who originally worked solely as early-stage software developers build skills that are more applicable to the holistic and integrated environment of a DevOps workplace.

This will help to grow a collaborative DevOps mindset as employees will feel more confident and secure in their own skills, meaning that they’re more willing to risk failing publicly by working collaboratively.

Collaboration: the key to a successful DevOps mindset 

If you want DevOps to be more than just another buzzword in your organization, it’s vital that you find ways to develop and improve collaboration between your software developers and engineers.

Our guide to collaboration in DevOps will help you achieve this. By increasing visibility and removing barriers to information, some of the practical issues hindering collaboration will be overcome.

You can then start to focus on growing a collaborative mindset among your employees. Start celebrating collaborative work and model this from the top – soon, you’ll have a successful DevOps team working in harmony!


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