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5 Tips For Managing A Successful Devops Team

While it’s never seamless, managing a DevOps team can be greatly streamlined by following a few simple guidelines.

Is your current cloud cost tool giving you the cost intelligence you need?  Most tools are manual, clunky, and inexact. Discover how CloudZero takes a new  approach to organizing your cloud spend.Click here to learn more.

DevOps, as a combination of development and operations, is the process by which companies build and manage software and deliver it to customers. A good DevOps strategy unites team members around shared goals and gives them the support and tools they need to complete the job well.

However, as with many things in the business world, successfully using DevOps principles and managing a cohesive team can be easier said than done.

At least a small part of that difficulty comes down to fuzzy definitions. Depending on the company, the term ”DevOps” could mean a variety of different things.

One company may strictly refer to the delivery side of operations as DevOps specialists, while another may include any employee who is working toward the design, development, or engineering of a product in some capacity.

If you’re not even sure who in your organization is on the DevOps team, how can you be expected to manage them efficiently?

For our purposes here, we’re using DevOps to refer to the entire framework of teams and operations working together to develop software and deliver it to customers. This means our tips are geared toward companies who may have engineers and other employees all working together to deliver value to customers via a software product.

If your organization works differently — for example, by keeping projects under the purview of one team at a time before it’s passed to the next team — you can still use the following tips. Just be sure to tailor them to your individual situation.

With that said, let’s discuss some suggestions for managing a DevOps team that you can put into action right away.

1. Prioritize Communication Between Teammates

One of the benefits of forming a dedicated DevOps team for each product area is that you can unite team members under the DevOps umbrella and get them all on the same page at once.

Instead of having product engineers pass the baton to test engineers, who then hand off responsibility to the delivery team who manages the software release, you can keep all teams aligned throughout the duration of the entire project.

When DevOps teammates work closely together, they tend to communicate more frequently and quickly about updates or changes to the project. This quick feedback loop means the whole project can be more nimble, switching gears as needed.

Ensuring this communication happens frequently and openly is one of the most important things you can do to manage a DevOps team successfully.

You may need to try things such as switching from emails to Slack, scheduling a weekly meeting to keep all team members updated (best for larger or multi-team projects), or improving the way your employees track their changes and relay those changes to the rest of the team.

2. Keep Teams Stable Even When Circumstances Change

Team cohesion is crucial to communication and successful project completion. Plus, in-depth knowledge of a product is necessary to inform technical design decisions and delivery strategies. If team members are always joining and leaving the project, they may not have important product-specific knowledge or a sense of responsibility and ownership over the project’s outcomes.

They also may be unfamiliar with details of the project, or unsure of which details they should communicate and to whom.

You can minimize this confusion by striving to keep teams together under one roof as much as possible.

This might mean keeping a teammate on a project even when they’re due to switch to a new one, ensuring teams only work on one project at a time, or pairing new teammates up with mentors who have been on the project for a while.

3. Make Sure The Team Is Focused On The Right Goal

While DevOps team members focus on the day-to-day details of their jobs, who is keeping track of the big picture?

It’s the job of the DevOps team manager to make sure the vast majority of actions the team takes are in alignment with the end goals for the project. This end goal should always revolve around delivering the most value to customers rather than shipping potentially unhelpful changes.

If one aspect gets lost in the weeds, it can cause the team to lose sight of what’s truly important.

When the team comes to a fork in the road, always use your vision of the ultimate goal to keep everyone on track and moving forward together.

4. Make Important Metrics Accessible To All Team Members

There’s a famous phrase that says, “What gets measured gets managed.”

If there’s one sure way to keep errors from slipping through the cracks and snowballing into much bigger problems, it’s to track as many important metrics as you can.

The items you should track will vary based on your circumstances, but these examples represent common priorities for most companies:

  • The costs associated with supporting the end product long-term, including customer support costs and the resources needed to provide timely updates
  • The stability of your software, as demonstrated by its uptime and downtime
  • The number of bug reports you receive, and in which areas the reports are most frequent
  • The time it takes employees to complete individual tasks within the course of completing a project
  • The revenue each product brings in
  • Which features or services cost the most to build and support
  • How many customers are using the product, and for how long
  • How many customers start using the product but then cancel memberships or free trials
  • Which customers report that the product is fulfilling their needs, and which customers want something else from the experience

Whether your bill goes up or down is meaningless without business context.  CloudZero offers a simple and flexible way for you to group and measure costs  by whatever metrics make sense for your business (e.g., cost per customer, per  feature, per product, per team, and more).Click here to learn more.

One positive effect of providing statistics such as project costs freely to team members is that they’ll naturally work toward optimization without you having to do much hands-on management.

Most employees want to build software that delivers value to customers and benefits the company.

If engineers see costs spiking beyond expectations, for example, they’ll often take measures to correct the inefficiency when they notice it rather than waiting for the finance department to point out the problem in the future when the bill comes due.

5. Identify And Correct Bottlenecks And Sticking Points

By closely tracking all of the important metrics, someone on the team should notice right away if a certain area doesn’t look right. And, if you’ve prioritized speedy and open communication, that person can notify the rest of the team quickly.

If it takes too long to complete tasks in a certain part of the process, for example, or if bug reports keep rolling in on a specific feature, the team should be able to see those issues clearly in the metrics they track.

When an issue arises, they can begin fixing it before it grows larger or causes other problems.

CloudZero Can Help You Shed Light On Your Company’s Cost Efficiency

Earlier, we promised that every tip in this article would be something you could take action on right away if you chose to. Indeed, most companies can reevaluate their communication methods, renew focus on their goals, and complete most of the other items on the list without much outside help.

Where many organizations get stuck is providing visibility into the project’s metrics to all team members.

How do you show each employee how much a given feature or service costs, for example, or how those costs compare to revenue, if you don’t know how to track these items in detail?

The good news is that even if you don’t currently have a way to track your costs in fine detail, you can still take action toward this important step today.

It’s easier than you might think, because CloudZero's Cloud Cost Intelligence platform is built to give you exactly this kind of visibility.

Using CloudZero Dimensions, you can track your costs per project, per feature, per customer, per region, or any other metrics you’d like to keep your eye on.

Schedule a demo today to see CloudZero in action!

CloudZero Team

Author: CloudZero Team

This blog post was written and reviewed by the CloudZero team. Combined, our team has more than a quarter century of experience in the cloud cost space. Every blog post is extensively researched and reviewed by several members of our team for accuracy and readability.


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