Building Cross-Functional Teams in the DevOps Transformation Process

Being able to position members with cross-functional competencies within the team is one of the critical issues for Agile and DevOps transformation processes. However, no matter how much time you spend, it is unlikely that each member of the team will have every competency needed at the top level. In order to create high performing teams, the best approach is to ensure that members have a basic level of knowledge on different topics, as well as complementary areas of expertise. You should complete the process of determining team member shortcomings and providing them with necessary knowledge and skills as soon as possible.

Accelerate State of DevOps Report 2019

Competence Model in the DevOps Transformation Process

For the DevOps competency assessment, determine the needs for different areas of knowledge and skills first. In this way, companies can create their own frameworks, as well as build models for consulting companies or international authorities (Continium Tactical DevOps Adoption Model or DASA DevOps Competence Model). For an example, reference the DASA DevOps Competence Model.

The competence model offered helps individuals and teams determine how ready they are for DevOps and whether the team has the right skills and abilities to achieve high performance levels. See: DASA Competence Model

The Competence Model explains the basic skills needed in DevOps teams. Accordingly, the model defines four skill areas and eight knowledge areas and explains the expected level of behavior or knowledge for each of these 12 skills, as follows:

SKILL AREAS

  1. Courage: evangelism, coaching, self-confidence, proactivity, reflection, trust, open discussions, experimentation, fail fast, courage to change
  2. Team Building: understanding of other points of view, collaboration, mutual accountability, common purpose, ability to integrally support the service/product
  3. DevOps Leadership: facilitating teams to high performance, humility, transparency, service lifecycle mindset, stakeholder management
  4. Continuous Improvement: consistent improvement, kaizen mindset, quality at the source, first time right, knowledge-sharing, ability to adapt

KNOWLEDGE AREAS

  1. Business Value Optimization: use of the IT service in real life, including direct feedback loop of user comments to team, service level management, definition of done, business activity/performance monitoring, business case management
  2. Business Analysis: functional requirements, non-functional requirements, longer term development of business process (based on translation of market developments), data analysis, and refinement
  3. Architecture & Design: ensuring fit between developments and current situation, overall service design, patterns, and styles
  4. Programming: software engineering mastery, everything as code, data management
  5. Continuous Delivery: automated testing, deployment and release management, configuration management, version control, cloud, containerization, feature-driven delivery
  6. Test Specification: design of test cases, test concepts
  7. Infrastructure Engineering: technical monitoring, performance management (e.g load balancing etc.), capacity and availability management, reliability engineering, cloud, containerization
  8. Security, Risk & Compliance: security, service continuity planning

Team Competency Assessment and Acquiring New Skills

The first result of carrying out a competency assessment with team members will be that you determine the strengths and weaknesses of each member. For this assessment, surveys and interview techniques are the fastest and most reliable methods. The assessment results will model how ready and able the DevOps team members are to perform efficiently.

DevOps Team Scan

After determining in which areas team members need to develop, the second step is to provide training and practice on related issues and catch them up on shortcomings. It goes without saying that each member’s needs will differ from the others. However, at the first stage, you should ensure that all members acquire basic knowledge on different topics. The main purpose here is to enable all team and organization stakeholders to have common knowledge, culture, and terminology on DevOps issues; in other words, they should speak the same language.

Once this basic level of knowledge is provided, offer each member the opportunity to develop in the areas he/she needs. Although it is quite natural and necessary for the members to have different needs and competencies, the main goal should be that nobody falls short on any knowledge or skills when the team comes together.

For example, a product owner would be expected to have prominent competencies in areas such as business value, business analysis, and team building, whereas a team member responsible for infrastructure is expected to have competence in areas such as continuous delivery and programming.

Three different key profiles are defined in the Competence Model to model similar needs. At the  professional level, development programs and their contents are defined and practiced in all three areas. To learn more about the reference model, please see: “A Journey of the DASA DevOps Competence Model in Practice”.

5 minutes to find out your skill gap

Take the DASA DevOpsCompetence Quickscan to see if you have the skills to work on a DevOps team.

The scan contains 24 questions and your results are immediately visible.

Take the Quickscan Now

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Berk Dülger

DevOps Services Manager & Partner, Continium

Berk Dülger has worked as a Software Engineer, Consultant, Trainer and Manager in software development projects in different sectors such as Telecommunications, Banking, Insurance, E-Commerce…