How remote work could hasten DevOps success

How remote work could hasten DevOps success

The current shift to remote work has its challenges, but it can also accelerate DevOps: Many cultural barriers that organizations hit while trying to scale have gone away

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For many, DevOps is a mythical concept: According to the DevOps Institute, DevOps remains difficult for more than 50 percent of organizations. And with many people working remotely now and for the foreseeable future, achieving alignment between development and operations may seem like a Herculean task.

DevOps is primarily about communication and collaboration, not the latest automation toolset.

However, many organizations are discovering that remote work is actually accelerating DevOps, by breaking down many of the barriers that have prevented it from scaling. The reason? DevOps is primarily about communication and collaboration, not the latest automation toolset. In today’s remote work environment, these core principles have become essential.

A new level of cross-functional collaboration

Creating a culture of cross-functional collaboration has often been the Achilles heel of DevOps. With everyone now distributed, physical and perceived barriers no longer exist, enabling stronger collaboration. The “them and us” mindset that often happens when teams sit in clusters creates silos that are difficult to break down. Remote work blurs these boundaries so individuals can collaborate more effectively to deliver high-quality, innovative software.

[ Also read: Digital transformation: Why this is a smart time to speed up. ]

These days, collaboration happens in scheduled meetings, video calls, and Slack channels. This reduces the risk of informal discussions derailing processes and helps to foster cross-functional teams aligned around the business need. Remote work removes traditional silos and creates more collaborative culture, which is the key to scaling DevOps.

The macroeconomic situation also encourages cross-functional collaboration: As organizations struggle to adjust while facing pressure to innovate to keep up with customer demands, they are increasingly recognizing DevOps as a lifeline rather than the latest technology fad.

As these organizations pivot to focus on digital, volatile customer needs, and the urgency of today’s business environment, cross-functional collaboration has become essential for businesses to thrive. The shift to remote work has ripped the Band-Aid off the cultural transformation aspect of DevOps, making a formerly slow transition sink or swim.

The shift to remote work has ripped the Band-Aid off the cultural transformation aspect of DevOps, making a formerly slow transition sink or swim.

But what will happen when remote work is no longer mandatory? Will organizations maintain it to ensure that DevOps continues to drive the business? Or will they decide that the cultural transformation is so entrenched that returning to an office environment will not derail their efforts? Only time will tell.

4 post-pandemic DevOps culture tips

Here are four things CIOs can do to foster and maintain this new collaborative culture in the post-pandemic new normal.

Maintain video rather than voice-based communications. The ability to see others, even virtually, is more effective than relying on voice communications. You can pick up on non-verbal cues, and participants can’t tune out.

Don’t rush back to the office. The world is changing, and change can be good. Don’t force people to return to old ways of doing things if the new way is helping DevOps permeate the organization. Instead, ask for feedback on how things can be improved and let your team evaluate what makes them more effective.

Don’t force people to return to old ways of doing things if the new way is helping DevOps permeate the organization.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. This is a core tenant of any successful leader, and it’s one of the few things that should not change. Remember that DevOps is fundamentally a people transformation, so ensure that active listening is a key part of your communications strategy.

Celebrate every DevOps milestone. Remember that people are humans, not machines. After these unprecedented dark times, celebrate how DevOps is impacting your organization and give everyone a reason to believe. This will not only help the business, but it’s also vital for humanity.

When the pandemic eases, we will all be dealing with a new normal. It’s up to CIOs to use this time to implement strategies that ensure that DevOps remains an intrinsic part of business success.

[ Get answers to key digital transformation questions and lessons from top CIOs: Download our digital transformation cheat sheet. ]

Antony Edwards is the COO at Eggplant. He studied computer engineering at the University of South Wales, Australia, then started his career as a developer in Sydney before joining IBM Research in New York.

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