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3 Tips on the DevOps Journey to Quickly Overcome Challenges

A successful DevOps conversion is a union of people, process, and products with vast rewards: Heightened collaboration, increased efficiency, improved processes, happier teams, quicker adoption to change. However, DevOps is a journey. It takes time to assess your environment, structure and develop a team, and implement tools and best practices.

In this article, we look at some potential DevOps challenges and offer some tips to address these challenges.

DevOps is a journey with challenges along the way

For DevOps to succeed, you need champions to lead the way with the entire team embracing a culture of continuous monitoring and self-improvement. Undoubtedly, challenges will be encountered. Don't fret. The key is to be aware that you will encounter challenges.

As is the case with everything related to technology, the list of potential DevOps challenges is long. The exact nature of challenges faced will vary from organization and differing teams.

Some potential DevOps challenges:

  • Managing all the DevOps tools and complexity of environments
  • dealing with team turnover and lack of knowledge transfer
  • lack of visibility or vision
  • security or lack thereof
  • adapting to or embracing the change and culture

We won't go over every possible challenge under the sun. This article is not intended to list challenges and specific steps to address them. Instead, let’s take a step back and go over some more subtle yet important ways a DevOps team can overcome challenges encountered along the journey.

Tip 1: Focus on communication

Two paper speech bubbles discussing DevOps challenges on a pink background.

Tip 1: Focus on communication

Probably the most important tool at your disposal to overcome challenges is communication. The better your team communicates, the quicker challenges will be exposed. Challenges are easier to overcome when they are identified early. 

Communication for some is easy, for others not so much  

How often to meet and with who?  What is the agenda? What is the balance between high level meetings versus detailed meetings?  How well are leadership goals absorbed by the DevOps team?  And likewise, how well are the individual voices, concerns, and ideas on the DevOps team heard?  Are you meeting too much or not enough?  Is the team collaborating and communicating on their own? 

Communication frequency, methods, and topics to cover vary from team to team. As a DevOps leader, the important thing is that you are considering these questions and fostering a team atmosphere of collaboration. 

DevOps teams are made up of extremely smart people who are skilled in different practices. Leveraging this pool of intelligence through effective communication will help overcome any challenge. Share on X

As a DevOps leader, don’t make decisions in a silo, before making a decision that will make a significant impact consult the team and get different points of view.  This can be a decision over tools, process, technology, roles, responsibility, security, team structure, or even communication tactics.  After deciding, be able to explain why.  Also be able to explain how it will impact their workflow.

Communication promotes knowledge transfer

The more knowledge transfer there is the better a team can handle change, complexity, turnover and extended leaves of absence.  There are many tools related to DevOps that require different skill sets.  When DevOps teams collaborate with one another outside of structured meetings setup by leadership they become more confident individually, trust goes up between team members, and another great benefit is they share knowledge with each other.  Learning new tools becomes a little easier when you have trust and can share experiences with other team members.  When the team is collaborating, the complexity of the different environments becomes easier to bridge.  If there is a team member with specific knowledge that would be better if others on the team knew as well, are there incentives or encouragement in place to ensure transfer is taking place? 

Encouraging the team to collaborate among themselves takes effort and maybe even a little prodding but once they start it usually picks up steam!  As a DevOps leader, if you find yourself triaging communication encourage members of the team to directly contact one another.

Communication promotes leadership

A DevOps team needs leaders and when leaders communicate and collaborate only good things can happen.  When teams communicate well, a pool of potential leaders will emerge.  Perhaps you have a team member that has great ideas.  Maybe they are not good at communicating those ideas out.  Fostering communication and collaboration among the team, outside of structured meetings setup by leadership will help team members improve their communication skills and help them find their voice and perhaps you will find a few diamonds in the rough. 

Tip 2: Prioritize security

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Tip 2: Prioritize security

This is another area that takes effort and perhaps some prodding. Engaging security concerns early will help guide overall decisions and will prevent reworking technology, tools and processes down the road in addition to keeping things safe. Promote targeted security training for the individual roles that make up the DevOps team and promote team wide security awareness regarding the big picture.

Embed security into DevOps practices  

Effective security is a team sport. The more the team has awareness about topics such as key management, identity management, data management and network security will help keep re factoring and reconfiguring down to a minimum. Also, following security best practices means you are doing things correctly and not cutting corners. There are many security tools and processes to understand and incorporate across the DevOps spectrum. Stay in tune with these security best practices and take an incremental approach to adopting them into the team’s workflow.  

Tip 3: Go back to the beginning

Person standing on a yellow dot.

Tip 3: Go back to the beginning

Remember the original goals. No matter where you are on your DevOps journey most likely when it started or even before it started, your organization did an assessment. Deciding to transition to DevOps is not done in a vacuum. When you encounter troubling challenges, if necessary, go back to the beginning and remember what brought you to DevOps in the first place. Revisit the original assessment to help maintain the focus on the desired end game. If you find things are straying off path re assess where you are currently versus the original goals that were identified at the beginning of the journey. This will help you get back on track.

Conclusion: Help is available

DevOps is a journey with many rewards along the way. However, there will be challenges but nothing a strong team cannot overcome through communication, following security best practices and remembering why they started the journey in the first place. And more good news, there is help available! Whether you are just starting on your DevOps journey or encountering challenges – assessments, coaching, training, or applying specific skills to augment an existing team – we are here to help you succeed and overcome any challenges!