DevOps raises many questions around processes and technologies, but it is important to remember that people are the essential piece that makes DevOps work. Since my post on Generalists vs. Specialists here on DevOps.com, I have had many questions about shaping human behaviors, like this one:
Q. How can I help my team build up the attitudes and behaviors we need for our DevOps team?
In an industry often dominated by technical advancements, flashy applications and an ever-changing “next big thing,” it’s probably not surprising that the human aspects behind them usually fly under the radar. That is changing with DevOps, but there is a need for prescriptive advice on how to encourage a ‘DevOps attitude.’
This question then is typical of many looking for specific steps to help shape the human element of DevOps. So here are three approaches to help you encourage DevOps behaviors to be successful.
1. Connect Individual Job Duties to Higher-level Business Processes and Goals
In traditional environments, staff are often only concerned with their silo, not the overall process. They may fulfil their duties within their silos – writing code, testing release, maintaining stability – without ensuring the whole process contributes to the ultimate business goal, which is really the whole point.
By contrast, DevOps treats the SDLC as a value chain in which discrete activities (designing, coding, testing, etc.) occur in a complementary fashion to add value to the final deliverable – a production application. Traditional value chains have taught us that optimizing at the individual activity level can only get you so far – true evolution happens when you optimize at a higher, end-to-end process level.
I have posted before about encouraging a ‘big picture’ view of enterprise DevOps, but sometimes this is not enough. To take this a step further, you should directly connect the job duties of each team and each individual to the business goals, and hold them accountable to hit these goals.
2. Update Compensation Plans so They Align with Your DevOps Strategy
Speaking of accountability, one of the best ways to shape staff behaviors is to align rewards with desired end-to-end goals. Tying compensation to the entire team’s ability to accelerate delivery of high quality services, each individual will bear responsibility for all aspects of the SDLC. Not only does this provide ample incentive to embrace change, but it also gives staff a clear direction and specific goals.
This contrasts with a silo-based approach with, for example, a developer rewarded only for release speed, so they pump out code as fast as they can, regardless of defects; or an operations silo rewarded solely for stability, which encourages them to delay release in case new code breaks something.
Of course, pay is not the only compensation that motivates great dev and ops teams. So don’t forget other rewards, like training, conference tickets, new projects, team activities, or new responsibilities.
3. Technologies and Tools Will Help DevOps Staff Excel
When trying to model behaviors, it is important to remember that technology can help. For example, if your goal in adopting DevOps is to compress software delivery to meet a shorter timeline, you can’t just expect people to work harder, faster, and/or longer; you’ll need to help them with shared technologies that let your people work together better and smarter, not just harder.
For example, service virtualization relieves the need to build up physical test environments for every new code release, so dev and QA can build better code, test more, and improve quality. Release automation relieves of the need to manually release new code into production, so development and operations can focus on improving code quality and architecting for scale. Plus, both teams end up going faster, with fewer errors cause by human intervention.
Beyond specific tool selection, make sure your entire DevOps team is trained on their use, so they can all contribute by working smarter and better to achieve the company’s goals across their silos. This cross-skilling and shared responsibility helps to ensure the collaboration, communication, and integration of people that is an essential part of a DevOps approach.