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The COVID-19 pandemic had a dramatic impact on almost every business sector. 

While retail shops, restaurants, and other business establishments had to shut their doors, software teams still managed to contribute to development efforts remotely. However, the challenges they faced in their remote DevOps efforts cannot be undermined or overlooked. With almost every team member working remotely – from their respective homes - the lack of real-time, face-to-face communication was a major roadblock which greatly impacted their ability to communicate, solve problems together, and set the stage for quick decision-making.  

Challenges in the remote working of DevOps teams

The DevOps approach to software delivery has benefited organizations in more ways than one; yet, making it work for a remote workforce brings with it its own set of challenges. 

Here’s looking at some of the top challenges in the remote working of DevOps teams: 

 

Communication Challenge: DevOps works on the foundation of better communication between the different teams in the software organization – specifically operations and development. However, in a remote setup, where teams can only talk to each other virtually, the challenges that arise due to broken communication are many. The lack of face-to-face communication, the absence of daily or weekly team meetings, and the different pace at which each individual works and communicates impacts delivery outcomes in more ways than one. 

• Ineffective collaboration: Just like communication becomes challenging for remote teams, collaboration also takes a huge beating. Because teams can only collaborate remotely, using a range of different collaboration tools, enabling and ensuring cohesiveness is difficult. Delayed or miscommunications, wrong interpretations, and unintended misunderstandings become the cause of avoidable anxiety that affects morale, engagement, productivity, and innovation. 

• Progress tracking is difficult: Another significant challenge remote teams face is tracking the progress of their project and ensuring it meets time, efficiency, and cost goals. Keeping track of the progress made by team and ensuring that the entire team working towards shared goals  when individual remote workers working from geographically dispersed locations can be extremely daunting – especially in the absence of the right tracking tools and a flexible remote working mindset. 

• Security and compliance: Remote teams also face the brunt of compromised security and compliance. Because individual members are working from home, using their personal laptops, mobile phones, and home Internet connections to communicate and collaborate with peers and access corporate resources, the chances of security incidents and compliance issues are extremely high. 

• Data fragmentation: Remote teams also have to contend with data being fragmented across different tools, systems, files, and personal hand-written documents. When data is stored in different places – instead of a single unified repository – it makes it difficult for teams to access the information that they need to make the right development decisions. 

Poor quality software: Lastly, poor software quality is also a challenge most teams face while working from different locations. Lack of direction and in the absence of the right project and team tracking tools make it difficult for remote teams to have a clear understanding of targets, which can ultimately lead to product quality slipping.  

7 Best Practices to help with Remote DevOps 

DevOps teams that are used to working with peers from a single office location find the transition to a remote setup difficult. In the absence of the right tools and the right mindset, teamwork gets greatly impacted – so does software delivery efficiency. 

Here are 7 best practices to help with remote DevOps:  

  1.   Investing in Effective Collaboration Tools: Investing in the right tools can be a great way to overcome common communication and collaboration challenges. The right tools can help remote DevOps teams seamlessly communicate issues, action items, and more – thus increasing productivity, responsiveness, and transparency. They can allow individual members to constantly be in touch with their peers and reach out to them – with a simple click of a button. 
  2.   Effective remote Collaboration with regular update meetings and brainstorming sessions: Scheduling regular update meetings and brainstorming sessions is also a great way to ensure remote DevOps teams contribute to the project in the right manner and stay the course. Such brainstorming, exploration, and experimentation are especially needed for new products and features that need to be introduced. These meetings can empower everyone involved to share their task details, issues, and concerns while allowing the team as a whole to work on building workarounds and solutions to reach project goals faster. 
  3.   Automate Code quality using tools like static analysis: Delivery teams under pressure to meet quality and time objectives can leverage static analysis tools to ensure code quality. Because these tools automatically examine source code against a set of coding rules, they help address weaknesses that might lead to performance, functionality or security issues. By creating an automated feedback loop, they alert developers of issues early in the lifecycle – allowing them to take timely action. 
  4.   Increased focus on test automation: Embracing test automation strategies and tools can also help overcome quality challenges that remote DevOps teams often face. Since test automation allows for testing code in parallel, more tests can be executed in less time, empowering teams to align with their continuous delivery practices. Faster feedback loops and wider test coverage help greatly in meeting quality objectives. 
  5.   Update Security and Compliance for Remote Work Environment: Organizations with remote teams also need to up their security game. Providing VPN access, updating security tools, using cloud services, and strengthening access control measures are different ways in which they can focus on security. Organizations should also constantly educate their teams on evolving security threats and best practices they should adopt to keep themselves and their data and efforts protected. 
  6.   Migrate from On-Premise to Cloud: Since home Internet connections and personal smart devices are vulnerable to attack, cloud tools and systems can set the stage for continuous backups, so team efforts are not compromised. Cloud can also help in seamless failover to a secondary site – in the case of a major outage and breach. 
  7.   Update Compliance and Governance for Remote Work Environment: To ensure compliance and governance, remote DevOps teams should embrace modern Governance, Risk and Compliance tools that help manage compliance issues easily. Through seamless integration with existing processes and teams, such tools can provide insight into compliance and governance issues through real-time dashboards and reports, allowing teams to take quick, preemptive action. 

 

Conclusion

Ensuring DevOps efficiency in a remote work setup requires teams to communicate and bond with each other – even in the absence of face-to-face interactions and meetings. 

Looking at the current global scenario, it might be safe to say that remote working might just be the future of work. Although becoming fully remote comes with its own challenges, with the right approach, strategies, and processes in place, organizations will be able to move to a 100% remote setup and continue to meet their organizational needs with just as much ease.

In the end, what makes remote DevOps teams really successful is an individual commitment and collective team behavior; it is only through this outlook that organizations can ensure accurate decision-making, timely conflict management, and constant empowerment.

 

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