The times of organizing the software development team in a fragmented way are long gone. The modern market pressures call for continuous development and delivery, greater in-team collaboration, and better integration between development and operations teams. That’s why DevOps is gaining momentum as a solution to automating and optimizing the software development pipeline.

You can consider DevOps as a service or integrate the DevOps toolkit into your existing IT infrastructure. Both variants will do if you’re clear about the composition of your DevOps team and the expected outcomes of this change. Here is a quick guide to setting up a well-functioning team with minimum friction and hassle.

Things to Consider at the Beginning

Once you’ve decided to create a DevOps team in your company, you need to clarify some essential points first. These points will give you a proper direction in the process, saving you from wasting time and resources on costly mistakes.

  • Set the right team size. Your team can be large and small, depending on the project’s scale and needs. If your projects are small and short-term, expanding the DevOps team makes no sense. But for larger projects, a more numerous DevOps team will handle the tasks efficiently and on time with less friction and overload. However, take into account that extra-large teams may also experience problems in communication and allocation of tasks. So, if your project is very extensive, it makes sense to split the team into smaller DevOps units, each handling a specific subtask.
  • Clarify team roles. There’s nothing worse for project progress than role ambiguity and conflict. To avoid this problem, you need to determine the roles and responsibilities of each team member concisely. Assign the role of generalists and specialists to staff members depending on their qualifications; give a clear idea of who is responsible for project management, web design, UX/UI, etc. This way, your team will function smoothly without overlapping roles or role gaps.
  • Ensure understanding. It is impossible to move toward the goal if the goal itself is vague and fuzzy. So, your task is to share the project’s vision and mission with the team at the onset of your work on it. Once the staff understands the project well, they are better positioned to evaluate their contribution to the ultimate goal, which is highly motivating.
  • Create a positive climate. The working environment is critical for the team’s success, so you need to establish a warm, positive atmosphere. This goal is attainable if you focus on trust and open communication. The team leaders should also be reachable 24/7, and participatory management is a good variant for well-integrated, productive teams.

Use the Right Collaborative Tools

DevOps is a new standard for collaboration across the software development lifecycle. It lets people who used to function separately in the company start communicating and collaborating to achieve higher productivity. Thus, you need to invest in the smooth transition to a new level of collaboration, which is possible with the right collaboration software. Options to consider include:

  • Progress tracking (e.g., Trello, Confluence, JIRA Agile)
  • Communication (Skype, Zoom, Hangouts, Slack)

Credit: from Invensis Learning

Steps to Ideal DevOps Team Design

The process of DevOps team creation should follow a set of time-proven steps. Here is the algorithm for a smooth, successful team setup.

  1. Audit the company’s staff for vital human resources for the team. You will need flexible, motivated experts with multidisciplinary skills to spearhead the change.
  2. Think of the planned team structure in terms of business goals. This step will make the change more optimal for the business, maximizing its added value.
  3. Determine the software toolkit for DevOps integration. There is a realm of DevOps tools for businesses of all sizes and budgets, relating to numerous business processes and goals.
  4. Set the proper metrics for the DevOps team’s effectiveness evaluation. It will be vital to measure your success and detect the pain points in the process.  

Problems to Anticipate

As soon as you decide to unify the development and operations teams into one DevOps unit, you should be ready for resistance and sabotage. Not all teams are open to that change, which may harm the company and project progress. Here are the most frequent bottlenecks you should watch out for:

  • Formal unification. This situation is dangerous for the company as it isolates the dev or ops part of the team from the DevOps synergy. In one case, the dev team can collaborate with DevOps while the ops staff works separately. The other case involves the dev team’s isolated work. Such structures are not what a DevOps change presupposes, and they leave much space for blame-shifting, giving you nothing but failed projects and delays.
  • DevOps intermediaries. Another problematic solution is integrating a DevOps team into the existing team structure, giving it the task of mediating the activities of dev and ops units. It is fine as a transition stage, but don’t stay with it for too long. It doesn’t take the fragmentation out of the process, only adding a new functional link in the software development pipeline.

How to Find the Right Balance?

As you might feel now, setting up a DevOps team is not an easy task. It requires dedication and wise leadership at all stages of the team’s creation and fine-tuning. Our advice is to ask dev and ops staff about the most considerable problems and friction they experience in daily interactions with each other, thus focusing the DevOps transition process on clear goals. Assigning change agent roles to leaders in each team is also essential; it gives a sense of accountability and speeds up the transition.

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