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devops collaboration

How collaboration improves DevOps

Reading time: about 6 min

DevOps is an Agile approach to tech, security, and development that is becoming rapidly embraced by organizations worldwide, in contrast with traditional IT. DevOps is a mashup of “development” and “operations.” This philosophy is an approach that optimizes application lifecycle management. 

The goal of DevOps is to build, test, and deploy seamlessly, but there are so many steps between those three milestones that, often, small things can go wrong that balloon into massive roadblocks. 

The vast majority of the time, those small things can be boiled down to one overarching issue: a lack of communication. This ultimately leads to a lack of collaboration that handicaps your DevOps team.

We’ll show you a better way to communicate, organize, and collaborate to make the most out of your DevOps team and build business value. 

Why does DevOps matter?

If feature development were a kitchen, the development team would be responsible for combining the ingredients, and the operations team would be in charge of heating the oven. Heat the oven too early, and you’re wasting resources. But heat the oven too late, and the cake won’t be ready in time. The same goes for DevOps collaboration: without it, the timing and accessibility of necessary resources will be completely off.

The development team is responsible for writing code, designing new features, and testing features. The operations team is responsible for things like managing servers, scaling issues, bandwidth, security, and backups. 

Problems arise when the development team is ready to deploy, but hasn’t informed the operations team well ahead of time. This often means that there isn’t enough bandwidth for the features to go live. 

DevOps is an important solution because development and operations work closely together to address lag. This allows for cross-functional teams and takes the pressure off any single person or team. 

At the end of the day, users don't understand that the development teams and operations teams didn’t communicate well enough and that there weren’t enough servers designated to support the latest feature. All the user understands is that the features aren’t ready. DevOps was developed to streamline deployment, which ultimately improves the user experience.

The importance of DevOps collaboration

A healthy flow of communication is vital for DevOps, and it’s not difficult to imagine why. A lack of communication reduces efficiency, creativity, and results. And sometimes, information remains in siloes, even though Dev and Ops are supposed to function as a single unit. Without collaboration, it’s possible that not every member of the DevOps team is updated on each ongoing project and request.

Incredible things happen when collaboration is improved between Dev and Ops: suddenly, developers can start sharing responsibilities with the operations team, and the operations team can begin sharing responsibilities with the developers. New perspectives can translate into new solutions. The result? A healthier bottom line, more seamless deployments, and the ability to release more features more often. 

There are four main benefits to improving the collaboration of your DevOps team. You’ll see improved:

  • Innovation: Collaboration always sparks creativity
  • Productivity: A solid collaborative process enables efficiency
  • Transparency: When everyone knows who’s doing what, there’s less friction
  • Reliability: Collaboration allows for a stronger team that comfortably relies on each other.

How to improve DevOps collaboration

Many companies struggle initially with the concept of a single DevOps team. Those initial pain points can sour the experience for both the development and operations teams and cause them to resent the other team. So preventing that negative experience is crucial. 

Here’s how to improve DevOps collaboration from day one.

Define your goals 

It seems pretty obvious that everyone on the DevOps team should have a very clear understanding of what the goal is for any given project. And yet, too often, team members assume that everyone has the same vision. 

If you’re just beginning to incorporate DevOps into your team, it’s valuable to develop an overarching goal for the team. These goals could be planning, testing, deploying, releasing, and maintaining solutions in a more efficient manner. Or they could focus on automating and integrating development initiatives. 

Whatever you want to get out of DevOps, make sure it’s written down: when the going gets tough, it will be useful for your teams to refer back to the reason they combined in the first place. 

It’s also smart to define goals for each project. Why is your team developing a certain integration? Or why do they want a biometrics login? Defining that early in the process makes for a much easier production cycle.

Take a one team approach 

In the beginning of the DevOps journey, there may be friction combining your development and operations teams. They may feel reluctant to collaborate with a “different team,” and they may naturally collaborate with those who have similar skill sets or people they’re more familiar with. 

Instead, encourage a “one team approach.” Part of unifying your team comes from using DevOps tools. The same team should be using the same tools: Lucidspark, Jira, Slack, etc. There shouldn’t be any tools that are used by either just the development or the operations teams. The right tools increase transparency and involvement. 

Encourage diversity of thought 

Give equal weight to every voice and ensure that no one person dominates conversations or projects. When brainstorming, use Lucidspark to give every member of your team equal opportunities to contribute. 

Establish a clear roadmap 

Deployment gets confusing quickly. Use Lucidspark to build transparent roadmaps that are always updated in real time. This way, everyone can clearly understand interdependencies, see a granular view of the process, and keep both development and operations aligned on priorities. 

This is really where most DevOps teams fail: without understanding the dependencies between the two sides, it’s easy to misstep over and over again. Making the entire process visual allows for fewer course corrections and easier automation. The road map is a single source of truth for DevOps work that improves coordination and collaboration. 

devops collaboration
Roadmap example (Click on image to modify online)

Another truly valuable component of the roadmap is its ability to act as a visual post-mortem. After the release, return to your roadmap in Lucidchart and do a deep-dive on which components can be optimized for the next cycle. It’s easy to iterate, experiment, and improve with every lifecycle. 

Oh, and don’t make these roadmaps too long: a good rule of thumb is to keep them to about three months or less so that it can contain high priority initiatives without becoming too unfocused. Don’t make the mistake of trying to build a text-only roadmap. They’re difficult to understand and ultimately lack the sophistication and simplicity that visual roadmaps deliver. 

Collaboration ultimately enables continuous improvements to the product. When teams communicate and collaborate closely, they’re able to slowly get better over time, especially when the cycle is analyzed for inefficiencies. Teams are better able to prioritize projects and grow closer as people, which means they can better understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. 

A company is truly only as good as its development process, and a development process is only as good as the collaboration of the people involved. 

devops collaboration

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