DevOps Best Practices, Part 4 of 4 – Communicate!

DevOps is all about communication, collaboration, and integration between software developers and IT operations. DevOps is basically the glue between the customer and the developer. Over the course of a few articles, we’re going to list 4 best practices you can follow to be an effective DevOps professional in a Windows environment.

  1. Automate only what is necessary
  2. Regularly check system resources
  3. Unlock the power of the command line
  4. Communicate!

4. Communicate!

Communicate!This point isn’t specific to a Windows environment, but it cannot be stressed enough – the most important thing you can do as a DevOpeler is communicate with everyone around you. Don’t be afraid to send emails to wide audiences. In fact, depending on the scope and magnitude of the change you’re implementing, typically you want to inform as many people as possible.

This is particularly important in support situations. Even if you don’t know the solution to a problem, you should let your customer know that you are looking into it as soon as possible. Provide them with updates – good or bad – periodically, every 20 – 30 minutes ideally. Show them that you care, because hopefully you actually do! And most importantly, don’t lie; people can smell BS from a mile away.

If the roles are reversed and you are the one requesting support, don’t forget to circle back. Meaning if someone solves an issue for you, after it’s resolved tell them so, and tell them “thank you”. That small gesture will go a long way to building relationships with people you depend on.

Also, this may sound like common sense, but don’t treat an email like a tweet or an SMS message where you can only use a limited number of characters. Here are some pointers for email communication:

  • Use complete sentences.
  • Open with a greeting, close with a thank you.
  • Say “please” and “thanks” or “thank you”.
  • Keep the emoticons to a minimum. Same goes for exclamation marks.
  • Be descriptive, but brief. The occasional essay-length email is ok, but stay focused.
  • Use paragraphs and punctuation (commas, colons, hyphens, etc). A wall of text is not easy to read.
  • Always use a formal signature in external emails that includes your organization’s name and your contact info.

An effective DevOpeler is also a good listener and is able to get the right information out of people asking for his or her assistance. A couple of great questions to use whenever you are being asked for for assistance are:

  • What is your real question?
  • What are you really trying to do?

Many times, people, especially those who have some technical knowledge, will come to DevOpelers with a solution already in their head, and they are looking for you to validate that solution. What they really need is a solution to the actual problem, which may or may not be in-line with the solution they already have in their head. Those two questions above are useful for identifying the actual problem.

Most importantly, don’t hoard information. The most successful DevOpelers aren’t those that value obscurity and job security, but those that value communication and openness.

Do you have other best practices you follow for DevOps? Let us know in the comments below.


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