DevOps Culture - 5 Requirements to Successfully Bring Teams Together

Updated on :June 14, 2024
By :Sharn� McDonald

The term “DevOps” is a neologism (a new term formed by combining two or more words) that came into existence around 2007. Traditionally, Development and Operations (or IT) teams were siloed - they were separate entities within software companies. The Dev team would usually be responsible for writing and testing software code, and the Ops team would be in charge of releasing the software and updates, monitoring performance, and managing servers.

Looking back, it makes sense to most of us that these teams should naturally work together. One could even imagine a Developer and an Operations Manager sharing desk space! But, before the DevOps framework came around, this was not the case, and these two teams sometimes had completely different objectives. This led to disjointed, slow service delivery and, of course, unhappy customers.

So, What Is Devops Exactly?

Basically, it all started as a conversation between Developers and Operations teams who recognized that their relationship was dysfunctional and counterproductive. Development and Operations teams wanted to look for a solution to work together, and this conversation became a set of principles to drive culture or process now known as DevOps.

Believe it or not, the movement was also catalyzed by a novel about DevOps, The Phoenix Project, which is a fictional account of a failing software company.

DevOps Culture: CALMS

Jez Humble, co-author of The DevOps Handbook, coined the acronym CALMS (based on co-author John Willis’ CAMS model), which outlines five core values for building a DevOps culture: Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement, and Sharing. It’s also a great model to use to measure success when you’re transitioning your software production process to DevOps.

Requirement 1: Culture of Collaboration

To facilitate successful DevOps, you need to orientate your teams around the project or product, not their functions in the company. Cross-functional collaboration is the key to seamless product development - don’t hire a team to work on a project, rather get members from your development, QA, design, operations, and project management teams to work together!

If you don’t have culture, all automation attempts will be fruitless.” - John Willis, Co-author of The DevOps Handbook

To foster a culture of collaboration, it’s absolutely essential that communication and frequent feedback takes place between the various teams involved in the project/product. Especially in a remote team, you should look at using online communication tools like Slack, Discord, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Hangouts - whatever your team is most comfortable with using.

When choosing communication tools, it’s really helpful if they can handle dynamic media like video, GIFs, and code - it just makes it easier and more fun to communicate.

Note that just because you throw a bunch of people together on a project doesn’t mean they’re instantly going to get along and collaborate. Of course, you’d need to design their interactions by setting up times to meet (e.g., a 15 minute online video standup call each morning) and making sure that everyone knows what the project’s objectives are and what each team member needs to bring to the table in order to achieve these.

In terms of continuous feedback, the communication channels you set up will definitely create a space for informal feedback for quick changes. But you may want to consider something a little more formal when measuring success in reaching objectives. Recognition and feedback tools provide a platform for setting goals, sharing appreciation, and giving formal feedback to team members.

With effective communication channels in place, the collaboration will flow easily.

Requirement 2: Automation of Repetitive Tasks

There are a lot of repetitive tasks in software development, and a lot of tools and processes to automate these. Automation is the secret weapon for highly productive teams, and in a DevOps culture, this is no exception. 

85% of IT leaders claim that automation is a critical aspect of their DevOps strategies.” - Saloni Walimbe in DevOps.com

A good place to start is to implement continuous delivery. Continuous delivery is the practice of running each code change through a set of automated tests (oftentimes via cloud-based platforms) and automatically deploying builds and packages to production. Automating code testing not only saves time, but is more accurate with catching bugs and security compromisations. 

Requirement 3: Lean Work

You’re probably familiar with the concept of lean as an Agile framework in software development, but if you aren’t: it’s simply iterating your product in such a way that the customer is delivered a minimum viable product (MVP). The customer then gives feedback, and the DevOps team builds it up from there.

A simple product in the hands of customers today is more valuable than a perfect product in the hands of customers six months from now.” - Atlassian

This is an invaluable method of working since it plays a major role in the “continuous feedback” and “continuous integration” intersection in the DevOps model. If the feedback and integration loop is working fast, the rest of DevOps will, too.

Simplicity - the art of maximizing the amount of work not done - is essential.” - Agile Manifesto Principles

Requirement 4: Measurement of Efforts

There’s a lot that you can do, but without data, you have no proof of whether it’s worth the time and effort. This relates back to Agile and lean work since you shouldn’t be doing more than is needed at the time.

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.” - Agile Manifesto Principles

Although there’s no clear-cut list of what to measure in DevOps (I guess it comes down to your specific objectives and the project details), it’s important to measure internal processes as well as outputs. Some suggestions can be taken from Agile metrics:

  • Project lead time (expected time project will take from start to finish)
  • Cycle time (time it takes to finish each section of project)
  • Burndown charts (shows how much work is left to be done and helps reach/adjust completion date)
  • Throughput (processing time)
  • Technical (code coverage, bugs, number of features, etc.)
  • Team morale (employee experience and sentiment)
  • Customer satisfaction (feedback on features and/or service)

Requirement 5: Sharing

DevOps is not a suggestion for a new department, neither is it calling for the demise of Development and Operations teams, respectively. DevOps acknowledges that both Development and Operations have specific, vital functions but need to share their burdens in order to create and ship their software products effectively.

For this reason, sharing is a non-negotiable requirement for a successful and effective DevOps culture in your company. Exchanging information, communicating potential blockers, and generally being available to each other and to customers is what sharing is all about in DevOps.

Conclusion

Although this article is merely an introduction into building an effective DevOps culture, I hope it’s a doorway into better cross-functional team collaboration at your company!

The CALMS framework is a great starting point to help you create a more successful product or service. Ensure that you set up your Development and Operations teams for success through a culture of continuous communication, automating repetitive tasks and processes, keeping it lean, measuring success, and sharing information!
Finally, don't wait further; contact the best DevOps implementation services for your business now!

Sharn� McDonald
Sharn� McDonald

An artist by training and a digital designer by trade, Sharné McDonald joined the Hi5 team in 2017 as a Happiness Hero. It’s one of her joys to delight customers and potential customers with great content, technical information and funny GIFs. She loves being a generalist and is currently completing postgraduate studies in her spare time.

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