Four Ways DevOps Strengthens Teams

People with laptops sitting around a table

Development Operations (DevOps) is shorthand for discussing systems set up to plan, build, test, and deploy software. By making certain processes automated, you can catch bugs earlier, deploy to production faster (and more often), and enable more rapid feedback. All in all, a proper DevOps setup can save a lot of time and money while helping you deliver a better product.

But DevOps is also about systems meant to make software development more streamlined and remove some of the more mundane, laborious tasks from the shoulders of developers. When creating these processes, certain cultural changes come with it that can have repercussions for your entire organization.

Because of this, when done right, DevOps can have a positive impact on the morale of your team, from developers to project managers to stakeholders. It leads to stronger bonds and smoother teamwork.

DevOps makes feedback more objective and less personal

Most development teams have a peer review process where code is submitted for review by other developers. Questions can be asked, different approaches discussed, potential regressions noticed, and kudos given. Senior developers can coach more junior developers. It’s an opportunity for learning and improvement all around.

But this can sometimes degrade into nitpicking when developers leave feedback on coding standards. Or at least, it can feel like nitpicking. A developer submits something they are proud of, representing hours and hours of effort, and someone comes in and complains about the one line that doesn’t have the correct number of spaces. Or about that camelcase variable name.

Coding standards are important, so these things should be highlighted and fixed, but it can get exhausting and sometimes confrontational for everyone involved. Automating these types of checks with linters and other tools whenever possible eliminates this possible stressor.

DevOps makes the implicit explicit

When you set out to automate processes, standards and heuristics must be agreed upon. Decisions have to be made. This means you must have conversations and communicate with your team.

Infrastructure in code needs hard numbers and specs, which means you need to know what they should be first. Linters for code standards need to know what the code standards are, which means your team needs to agree on what those standards are first. Automated tests need to know what to test, which means your team needs to have a good idea of what is important enough to test.

Working toward automation helps eliminate assumptions and forces decisions to be made. These conversations alone can lead to better products. And when things go wrong, there tends to be less finger-pointing because hidden assumptions among the team have been rooted out.

DevOps allows for more frequent releases

One university used to have two releases per year for their website. Just two. Every six months, everything coalesced into an important date. All stakeholders would wrap up all of their hopes and dreams, and the weight of those expectations threatened to crush the development team. 

Bugs could not be tolerated (because it would be another six months before the next release), so testing was laborious and stressful. Deployment to production required a lot of time and attention. Each deployment was a major event where things could go spectacularly right…or horribly wrong.

More frequent releases and bug fixes make everyone’s lives easier. It helps everyone sleep at night. Each release has far less importance. No more sitting around, biting your nails, wondering if the next deployment will force you to work over the weekend. And DevOps can help you achieve more frequent releases.

Sure, there will still be problems that pop up. But your team will be better prepared for them. Putting out fires should be an occasional emergency and not a feared expectation. Developers shouldn’t be sitting around, sleep-deprived, looking as if they are being hunted by wolves.

Additionally, developers are less likely to have desperate stakeholders breathing down their necks. If that new feature isn’t in the next release, it’s not that big of a deal if it’s pushed to the next one. This promotes more goodwill, and everyone has a better chance of getting along.

DevOps empowers product owners

Product owners and other stakeholders can be more involved and provide continuous feedback during the development process. This is especially true if you have something that builds pull request previews as part of your DevOps setup. Transparency for every change, even for non-technical members of the team.

When there is no mystery and every change can be viewed, product owners will be less likely to feel the urge to be more controlling. They don’t need to request constant demos because they can view a demo whenever they want. It’s built into the process.

DevOps workflows free up mental energy for more productive research and conversations, which leads to better requirements and faster validation of those requirements. Everyone wins.

Conclusion

Besides saving time and money, DevOps can strengthen your team. It’s a benefit that is harder to measure but one that still pays dividends. The great thing about DevOps is that it can be implemented progressively. You don’t have to do everything at once.

Start small. Get accustomed to it. Let your team see and feel the benefits. Then move on to the next improvement. Pretty soon, your organization will wonder how they ever lived without it.

If you need help getting started, contact us. We’ve helped development teams large and small become more efficient and productive, all while having more fun.

Matt Robison

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Matt has been working with Drupal since 2008. He loves spending his time reading, writing, playing with his three kids, and eating lots of ice cream.

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