DevOps: Defusing Interdepartmental Tension

Knowing the source of interdepartmental tension isn’t enough.

This is the second post in a series of three by Effectual CEO, Robb Allen. The first post can be read here: “Embracing DevOps to Solve IT Tension“.

A conscious and concerted effort is required to get everyone on the same page, pulling in the same direction.

  • Complementary Missions
    IT and Engineering have different purposes, but their mission statements can and should complement one another, rather than causing them to butt heads. Involve both IT and Engineering team members when crafting mission statements to make sure that one team doesn’t dominate the other. The purpose here is gathering their input and voice to create mutually beneficial missions.
  • Open Communication
    You need to encourage open, clear, and direct communication between departments, especially during disruptive periods. There’s nothing wrong with formalizing this diplomatic process. Having regular meetings where the two departments can hash out disagreements and sticking points can be worth its weight in gold, helping to diminish or eliminate tension altogether. Remember the Agile principle that face-to-face communication is the best.
  • Complementary Needs
    Emphasize points of agreement. Where they don’t exist, try to find needs and wants that are complementary. When it’s not possible to make everyone win, it might be possible for each department to feel like they’ve won enough.
  • Cooperative Culture
    Create a culture where one department sees the victories of another as successes by fostering a workplace where departments see themselves as part of a greater holistic whole rather than competing factions. Encourage self-organization in keeping with Agile principles.

Cloud migration is about more than just “lifting and shifting” applications and data or modernizing applications for the cloud, it’s about transforming the culture of your entire organization.

Cloud migration is about transforming the culture of your entire organization.

How a Cloud Migration Can Inspire a DevOps Culture

You can use your cloud migration as an opportunity to implement Agile development principles. Defusing tension is an important element of a successful cloud migration. Once you have the broader strokes squared away, you can start drilling down into the specifics.

  • Automation
    There’s at least one thing both IT and DevOps immediately have in common: they both want to identify and address manual, inefficient, error-prone tasks. Automating these tasks can free up engineering and IT to focus on more creative and value-adding work. Embracing automation is often the way to gain cross-departmental wins that increase cooperation and morale amongst these teams.
  • Framing
    How you frame a cloud migration can go a long way toward garnering goodwill from both departments. Cloud migrations can be framed as the inevitable march of progress, something we all have to “deal with,” or they can be framed as a challenge requiring input from both departments. The former is a quick way to create resentment, but the latter is a valuable way to inspire the best in your people, including healthy competition and creative cooperation.

In my next post, I’ll explore the adoption of DevOps methodology, which sees engineering and IT not as opposing factions, but two parts of a greater whole.

Robb Allen is the CEO of Effectual, Inc.