Businesses expect every team to perform at a high level. When teams collaborate, communicate, and trust one another, success is a natural byproduct. High-performing site reliability engineers (SREs) and DevOps teams know this to be true and are always pursuing the continuous delivery of a quality product that meets users’ needs. But what does a DevOps/SRE team need to perform at a high level? And why is what such a team does so important to every aspect of the business?
How SRE Teams Work Together
The organization of an SRE team is not like that of a traditional “operations” team. Rather, it’s a group of diverse, highly skilled professionals with expertise in security, quality control, software, and operations. The foundation of that team is DevOps and agile frameworks, which emphasize communication, collaboration, and accountability. With these principles at their core, SRE teams can prioritize availability, performance, monitoring, incident response, and preparation.
They have shared ownership, not unlike how a community of bees works together. Bees have highly sophisticated social structures that result in harmonious work. They literally bridge gaps when it comes to the correct spacing in the hive.
When gaps are too wide, the bees connect the hooks of their legs to form a chain, almost like scaffolding. They also have reciprocal relationships and help one another regulate temperature and bathe. As a group, they constantly communicate and adapt.
These qualities all accurately describe how an effective SRE team operates. Responsibility for projects is on everyone’s plate. With proper communication and trust, SREs connect on a level that allows them to navigate a rapidly changing environment without spinning out of control.
Team Dynamics and Deliverability
Meeting delivery due dates is serious for SRE teams. They’ve made commitments to a variety of stakeholders, so they must always be cognizant of timelines.
If you consider the dynamics of a team that hits due dates, look no further than those group projects you did in college. If there was a weak link, it threw everything into disarray. SRE teams typically perform much better than those groups that had a member who didn’t do their part until the 11th hour.
High-performing DevOps/SRE teams have a bedrock of trust and respect. They also design workflows that provide transparency. It’s not a blame game of, “You didn’t do this, so we’re behind.” Instead, it’s all about getting to the root issues of why something’s not on track. The team members rely on one another for support, and they’re never concerned about being perceived as less valuable because they need help.
What Can Get in the Way of SRE Performance?
The hurdles that an SRE team may face aren’t much different from the ones any other team encounters. Teams implode when they don’t have leadership, support, autonomy, resources, and opportunities. Without these things, employees are less engaged and less productive. Every company worries about engagement and productivity, for good reason. Disengagement directly impacts productivity, which can result in financial losses to businesses and the entire economy.
When companies aren’t delivering on these fundamentals, SRE teams may feel as though they are spinning their wheels and can’t effect change in a meaningful way. How do you overcome this? You do so by hiring the “right” people, who have a mix of hard and soft skills, and then get out of their way. You give them the tools they need and the support they deserve.
How to Set Up Your Team for Success
The first thing any leader should do is empower those on the team. Empowerment means that they have the ability to make decisions and don’t have to ask for permission for every little thing.
Next, you should treat the group as a value center, not a cost center. SREs are valuable assets, so they earn nice salaries. The resources they need are an expense as well, although many SRE tools are open source. You should reframe this as an investment in your business, not purely a cost. The work your SREs do delivers marketable products that drive revenue.
Culture should also be a priority. Creating and maintaining a DevOps culture isn’t easy; it requires a commitment and reiteration. The most important aspects are embracing communication and encouraging collaboration.
You also need to keep your team sharp. Providing opportunities for upskilling is critical to ensuring optimal performance. It also lets the team members know that you’re investing in them, which goes a long way toward earning their loyalty.
How SRE Performance Impacts a Business’s Success
SRE performance directly affects your company’s success. Your SREs are in charge of some of your products’ most vital aspects—their reliability and their availability. When you have a synergistic SRE team that works together, the quality of your product will improve.
Better products and user experiences translate to happier customers who stay loyal. They also make it easier to attract new customers, which means that there’s a direct line between SRE performance and higher revenue.
How Important Is SRE Performance to Your Success?
SREs are an integral part of organizations that provide digital products. When they perform well and connect, it provides tangible advantages. Having the right players on the team matters, and you should certainly have a strategic plan in mind for building or expanding it.
To get a comprehensive overview of the SRE landscape, download our e-book, Secrets Revealed: What Emerging Tech Companies Are Looking for in DevOps/SRE Roles.