APMdigest posed the following question to the IT Operations community: How should ITOps adapt to the new normal? In response, industry experts offered their best recommendations for how ITOps can adapt to this new remote work environment. Part 2 covers communication and collaboration.
Start with: How ITOps Can Adapt to the New Normal - Part 1
VIRTUAL TEAM CULTURE
In order to adapt to the new normal, ITOps leaders should focus on fortifying a virtual team culture that fosters an environment for open communication. In a remote and digital world, it's imperative that teams communicate effectively.
VP of Product Marketing, Sumo Logic
Our office culture placed a high value on in-person interactions, so office budgets were targeting an inviting atmosphere. During the overnight change to work-from-home, we worried that we'd lose our office culture, so tried to adapt our in-person office culture to online forums. We held video conferences with an effort to create a facsimile experience — but it turns out it was not possible. The online experience works best where there is one voice at a time. We made a mistake in attempting to adapt our in-person office culture, and it's just not fully reproducible. This mistake led to trial and error, and we realized that we couldn't recapture what we had in-person, so instead had to create a new online-first culture. We are still working on this. So far we found ways to balance communication, using tools like company messaging apps and video conferencing. In ways, we now have better company-wide communication. The communication limit of one voice at a time allowed us to condense information into numerical goals, for instance we have breakout general gathering video conversations for general chats.
CTO and Co-Founder, PubNub
In order to adapt to the new normal, ITOps and DevOps leaders should onboard a streamlined process that ensures team alignment.
VP of Product Marketing, Sumo Logic
SET NUMERIC GOALS
We found that focusing on communication using numeric goals and progress towards them helped. Numeric goals are easy to communicate visually (bar graphs) and explain in a short sentence.
CTO and Co-Founder, PubNub
PRIORITIZE AND DELEGATE
In order to adapt to the new normal, ITOps and DevOps leaders should learn how to prioritize and delegate correctly.
VP of Product Marketing, Sumo Logic
The need for cross-organizational visibility is more critical now than ever before. IT teams can often be siloed — and working from home can make that worse. To find gaps in IT operation hand-offs, track productivity (response to tickets, support workloads by operator, development release cycles, etc.) over time to see if there has been a major change (up or down) in workloads and engagement. Examine your teams' workflows and identify places where tools sprawl might be creating delays due to mental switching costs; streamline through integration and/or aggregating monitoring, change and topology data into a single pane of glass. IT Ops teams will have less competing noise, better understanding of the health of their IT Operations and the right tools to help them.
Ever since the work-from-home mandates started, ad hoc conversations and resources that were already scattered are often going into a black hole. For many engineers, it's become overwhelming to keep up with all of the communications when working out of the office. To succeed from home, teams need to maintain real-time, aggregated communication streams.
Founder and CTO, Transposit
High stakes and urgent (synchronous) communication are especially challenging during Covid. I vote that teams invest in automation and monitoring that enables employees to move fast — coordinating asynchronously and with guardrails built in — yet recover quickly when things go wrong.
CEO and Co-Founder, Symmetry Systems
MAINTAIN FEEDBACK LOOP
Knowing that feedback is a key element to the culture of your ITOps teams, it is critical to address the lack of in-person feedback in a remote culture. Creating several, smaller touch points is critical to keeping this feedback loop going without creating more arduous meetings.
We have seen success by scheduling 30 minutes near the end of each day for what we call office hours. We publish our office hours to the entire organization and encourage anyone to join. This allows us to be available to the organization for asks that typically come in person, as well as receive more real-time feedback.
MAKE A CONNECTION
The most prepared IT leaders will develop new programs for engaging staff that may feel disconnected.
CEO, Windward Consulting Group
As remote work has become a mainstay of doing business, ITOps should work with their company's CTO and CSO to offer the right mix of collaboration tools for employees. Remote work will continue to add stress for employees, and it's the company's job to provide a framework of respect for the home situations of their employees and the tools/resources they need to be successful, such as video conferencing platforms, Google Drive, and notification systems. ITOps teams should regularly evaluate the performance of their organization's communication and collaboration tools to ensure employees can maintain their productivity levels while working remotely.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, few enterprises had made the leap forward to remote working. When the pandemic hit, many companies transitioned to a fully remote work environment, accelerating the trend many years ahead in a matter of months. ITOps suddenly needed to fight an uphill battle, supporting a remote workforce of tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people. Setting up the proper infrastructure, in terms of tools and processes, is the number one priority, ensuring that in the short term the company survives and long term that it thrives. New tools must be procured, which inherently are built to support remote collaboration, particularly for mission critical roles such as SREs.
Developer Relations, Netdata
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