Collaboration: The skill at the heart of DevOps

It takes a team of DevOps people to succeed. A DevOps oriented team can only exist when communication skills are as valued as within the enterprise as technical skill

When it comes to DevOps, certain skills are more obvious than others. While it may be easy to immediately look for certain technical skills – for one, experience with automated configuration management tools is valuable since they are used to maintain systems – enterprises should take care to not overlook the importance of people skills.

Collaboration is at the heart of DevOps, and it takes a team of DevOps people who work well with others to succeed. Ideal candidates have excellent communication skills, for example; team members need to be willing and able to share their ideas and what they've learned in a clear and concise manner. The use of multiple collaboration techniques can help with this, with tools to share activity and online communication (be it asynchronous or live chat) emerging as invaluable assets. If you're not sharing the knowledge you have with the rest of your team, you're not just failing to contribute, you're effectively impeding problem solving and slowing progress.

These soft skills are an important part of customer service as well. Being able to converse well internally with, say, a developer in addition to outside clients is a key part of solving problems. And it's not just about understanding and communication what the issue is from a technical perspective, it's also important that the team member(s) involved in the conversation are able to conduct themselves in a productive, civil manner. Becoming frustrated or playing the blame game instead of trying to get to the heart of (and solve) the problem can cause roadblocks just as easily as any technical issue.

It comes as no surprise that, according to the respondents in a recent survey from Quali, the most cited challenge in adopting DevOps was company culture, topping challenges of testing automation, legacy systems, and budget constraints.

Given that there are still plenty of people and organizations stuck in the old way of doing things, not every company currently has a culture and/or incentive in developing DevOps skills. And that's unfortunate, given a DevOps oriented team only exists where communication is as valued as technical skill.

In a Quali release, 451 Research's Donnie Berkholz, Research Director of DevOps, agrees, claiming, "The better collaboration between technology groups and the rest of the business, whether it's internally perceived as expansion of DevOps or as digital transformation, will continue to drive a stronger role for technology as the next wave of companies looks to become software-defined."

This was last published in March 2017

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