Back to resources

Building a DevOps Team and Re-Architecting the Product: A Matter of Priority

Dev Processes
Convincing
Team Processes

26 March, 2021

Sankar Nair
Sankar Nair

Vice President of Engineering at Novantas

Sankar Nair, VP of Engineering at Novantas, shares how he built a DevOps team and helped architecture the product when the business didn’t consider it a priority.

Problem

As an engineering team, we wanted to reduce the complexity of our code and deliveries and be able to deliver faster. We wanted to switch over our architecture to Microservices from the monolithic architecture. This needed us to have a completely redesigned infrastructure for our build and deploy process. As a B2B product company, our product usage patterns and loads were deterministic and were handled by the current architecture. Our systems were stable and did not have any client-facing problems. Product owners and senior leadership were happy with our release cadence and pace of delivery. The challenge, however, was to make others understand the value of investing in DevOps and re-architecture and making sure the transition is successful.

Actions taken

Rather than seeing things from a technology perspective, I presented the need for change from a business perspective. It was important for Product Owners and senior leadership to understand what they were gaining/losing by staying in the current architecture. Therefore, I focused the communications around the importance of attracting and retaining highly talented resources.

It was essential for us to come up with a multi-year execution plan with easily trackable and measurable milestones to let everyone know how we plan to make changes in a gradual and controlled manner to avoid business disruptions. I was particularly transparent that we were trying to make a lot of changes, but with the best interest of the organization in mind. It took many repeated meetings and significant convincing for us to have the budget allocated for these efforts.

Execution-specific actions

Starting small and not being overambitious in settings goals helped us start with the minimal budget and consistently show progress. We initially started with deployment strategies that were more suited for a B2C organization, but those were slowly getting very complicated for the use cases that we had. We were doing a transition to DevOps for the first time; so, pausing, thinking through, reflecting, and coming with a detailed action plan, and setting milestones helped with our execution.

As we understood things, they seemed to be getting more complex. We were open to admitting mistakes and taking corrective actions, which meant owning and announcing the setbacks to the wider group.

Lessons learned

  • Be transparent. We made a lot of mistakes in the process of setting up DevOps and rolling out our new infrastructure. When we did wrong, we were quick to admit it.
  • It is easier to sell your ideas when you focus on how they will benefit your stakeholders and the business.
  • Your strategic roadmap should have clearly trackable and measurable short-term milestones.
  • Don't be scared to admit mistakes and ask for help.
  • Be agile on your strategic roadmap and make improvements on the end state as we learn/progress more.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

Team Development Framework for new managers

26 June

Individual Contributors are familiar with a technical development framework that helps them with building products. Managers, especially new managers can leverage a parallel framework to help them build their teams while drawing analogies from an already familiar framework.

Building A Team
Team Processes
New Manager
Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti

Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti

Sr Engineering Manager at Instacart

Promoting Interdepartmental Teamwork for More Efficient Problem-Solving

13 June

Roland Fiala, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Productsup, raises an interesting issue about autonomy in teams: does it hinder collaboration opportunities that lead to better problem-solving? He shares his system for promoting teamwork in engineering departments.

Internal Communication
Collaboration
Roadmap
Team Processes
Cross-Functional Collaboration
Roland Fiala

Roland Fiala

Senior Vice President of Engineering at Usergems

How to Motivate Your Engineers to Grow in Their Careers

13 June

Roland Fiala, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Productsup, highlights the importance of soft skills and shares how he motivates his engineers to further their careers by focusing on personal growth.

Goal Setting
Different Skillsets
Handling Promotion
Personal Growth
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Motivation
Team Processes
Career Path
Performance
Roland Fiala

Roland Fiala

Senior Vice President of Engineering at Usergems

How to Successfully Rebuild Your Product

6 June

Adir Nashawi, Senior Product Manager at Hibob, shares his insight and experience from rebuilding a product to handle many feature requests and offerings.

Customers
Product
Dev Processes
Users
Prioritization
Adir Nashawi

Adir Nashawi

Senior Product Manager at Hibob

The Importance of Effective Communication Skills in Technical Roles

3 June

Dursun Mert Akkaya, Software Development Manager at Product Madness, encourages a change in mindset for heavily technical individuals as he explains the importance of communication skills.

Different Skillsets
Personal Growth
Leadership
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Convincing
Career Path
Mert Akkaya

Mert Akkaya

Software Development Manager at Product Madness