In the evolving field of DevOps, communication skills are essential to career growth
AGILE development is now considered a must-have in organizations that deal with software development and IT services. The old way of doing things no longer has a place in fast-evolving business environments. With agile methodologies, the DevOps approach – a portmanteau of “development” and “operations” – has quickly gained favor over compartmentalized development, testing, and operations, which often result in inefficiencies and miscommunication.
This change in mindset enables IT professionals to think and work beyond technology silos. By becoming involved in more than one aspect of the development lifecycle and the business itself, individual contributors and team efforts can deliver faster and more meaningful results.
A CA Technologies study has found that 69 percent of organizations in the Asia Pacific region are already implementing a DevOps approach to software delivery. 15 percent of these have already reached a high level of adoption. The study attributes increased profitability, market share and customer retention/acquisition due to these new approaches, stressing the importance of flexibility in the modern business environment.
The shift to DevOps is not always easy
DevOps requires professionals to step out of their comfort zones and collaborate outside their own cliques and traditional operational boundaries. There needs to be a deep understanding of technical, operational and service aspects of the business, which is not always easy to achieve for a developer, marketer or quality assurance tester who is accustomed to doing just one thing for most of their career.
The heart of DevOps, then, is not in the technology, methodology or even any expertise in any single field. What binds these together is the ability to communicate – communication and collaboration are considered one of the most important aspects of any DevOps professional’s toolbox.
Communication goes beyond the DevOps team, however. In any agile development environment, even disparate teams should be able to communicate and collaborate effectively, in order to arrive at shared goals. For example, developer teams also need to collaborate with OpSec (Operations Security) teams to ensure solutions or apps being developed measure up to the latest security standards.
Communication fosters trust and teamwork
In technology companies, there is often a disjoint across technical and non-technical departments. In some cases, developers do not take into account QA and customer service concerns – they are, after all, focused on delivering a product and its features, and not on addressing the customer’s complaint or concern.
Successful collaboration through a DevOps approach will enable teams to find common ground in achieving the shared goal – which is to build, deliver and support a product.
Being an effective communicator helps to better establish trust among colleagues – something that is unfortunately lacking in many IT project lifecycles. Thus, your value as a DevOps professional is not just about the technologies you know, but rather how you can translate your skills and knowledge into a product that people actually use and enjoy. This goes beyond technical capabilities, as you will need to collaborate with other capable professionals in order to transform technologies into useful and marketable products.
What if your business or organization doesn’t directly deal with software development or information technology? Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. According to Laurie Wurster, Research Director at technology research firm Gartner, any business that deals in digital activity should adopt a DevOps approach. “Digital business is essentially software, which means that organizations that expect to thrive in a digital environment must have an improved competence in software delivery.”
DevOps involves cross-functional teams, rather than separate and single-purpose departments. This means that everyone needs to become more involved in different aspects of business operations, product development and support. Tying all these together is collaboration, and being an effective communicator can make a big difference. It can mean success or failure of an organization that espouses the DevOps environment.