The Trouble with Troubleshooting
February 26, 2019
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Tech professionals in DevOps, web product manager (WPM), and developer roles demonstrate a lack of focus on priority business and career growth activities due to daily time spent troubleshooting application issues, according to a new report, SolarWinds Cloud Confessions: The Trouble with Troubleshooting. This contradicts the core principles of DevOps and places increased pressure on tech professionals to enhance innovation and performance within their organizations.

DevOps, WPMs, and developers spend most of their days troubleshooting; nearly half of the respondents noted it was in the top three tasks they manage on a daily basis. Because of the time spent on troubleshooting tasks, they are unable to devote time to important priorities, such as building product roadmaps, deploying new applications, and strategizing future innovations with business leaders. None of these three tasks appears in their top three daily activities, according to the survey.

DevOps, WPMs, and developers spend most of their days troubleshooting

“Today’s technology professionals play an unquestioned role in driving innovation for their businesses. Application development and the end user’s experience are inextricable from business growth,” said Joe Kim, EVP and Global CTO, SolarWinds. “Yet this survey of DevOps, WPMs and developers shows this push towards innovation is minimized in favor of reactive troubleshooting tasks, which are growing due to the need for comprehensive monitoring and visibility into these applications. Tech professionals need to be armed with comprehensive tools that enhance visibility into cloud applications and enable them to spend less time monitoring and troubleshooting, and more time creating opportunities to move their businesses and careers forward. Otherwise, businesses run the risk of a demotivated DevOps team.”

Tech professionals surveyed noted troubleshooting is the most disliked component of their roles, and if these troubleshooting tasks continue to grow without opportunity for job advancement, they state they would leave their current jobs.

Key survey findings show:

DevOps, WPMs, and developers spend most of their days troubleshooting

■ Troubleshooting app issues is the number one activity tech pros spend their time on, with 48 percent of respondents choosing this as a top three task.

■ 53 percent of DevOps agree troubleshooting app issues is the top task completed on a given day.

■ WPMs rank troubleshooting app issues third in the top three at 39 percent, behind planning/strategizing future technology innovations (54 percent) and managing end-user experience (46 percent).

■ Developers rank troubleshooting app issues second in the top three at 52 percent, behind writing/cleaning up code (58 percent) and before testing (36 percent).

■ On average, DevOps and WPMs spend less than 25 percent (10-24 percent) of their time proactively optimizing performance of their environments.

Due to the time spent troubleshooting, tech pros devote less time to important priorities like building product roadmaps

■ Without troubleshooting, tech pros overall would prioritize building product roadmaps as a top three daily activity not listed in their top three current daily tasks.

■ More specifically, DevOps would also be able to prioritize managing and/or deploying apps; and developers would be able to plan/strategize future tech innovations–tasks they’re unable to prioritize on any given day due to troubleshooting.

Most importantly, the time spent troubleshooting means DevOps, developers, and WPMs aren’t able to focus on the parts of the job they love

When looking at the top three tasks tech pros complete on any given day compared to the elements of the job they love:

■ DevOps love managing/deploying apps, but are not able to prioritize it in their top three daily tasks

■ WPMs love building product roadmaps, but are not able to prioritize it in their top three daily tasks

■ Developers love managing/deploying apps, managing end-user experience and planning/strategizing future tech innovation, but are not able to prioritize in their top three daily tasks

■ When asked about the parts of their job they disliked most, tech pros placed troubleshooting app issues within their top three, despite it being a top daily task.

The amount of time spent troubleshooting could lead to tech pros losing motivation or even leaving their current roles

■ Overall, the ability to solve real problems and make an impact on the business or customers are the top two reasons DevOps, WPMs, and developers chose to pursue their roles.

■ Tech pros state they would leave their current jobs if there is no room for advancement or if the work becomes too repetitive or boring, which is concerning given the amount of troubleshooting and lack of proactivity in current roles.

Methodology: The findings of this report are based on a survey fielded in September 2018, which yielded responses from 336 DevOps, developer, and web product manager (WPM) professionals (practitioner, manager, and director roles) in the US and Canada from public- and private-sector small, mid-size and enterprise companies. Respondents include 115 DevOps, 107 developers, and 114 WPMs.

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