How do you expand your DevOps team, now and in the future

Tech Team

“I saw an amusing post on LinkedIn this week, where a recruiter was looking for someone with 12 years experience in Kubernetes when the tool was only released 6 years ago. There followed the usual comments about recruiters not understanding the skill sets they’re looking to recruit for – but it did make me think about the challenge of recruiting people when there simply aren’t enough seasoned practitioners with the required skills and experience out there, nowhere is this more acute than in DevOps.”

One way to meet this challenge is to take senior people with skills in other areas where there is overlap, (SysAdmins or Test Automation engineers for example) and have them cross-train. New tools and methodologies often adopt an “Evolution not Revolution” approach – the outcomes of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery are similar to delivering small chunks of work 20 years ago, but with improvements around, for example, visualising the workflow using pipelines, use of the cloud and containerisation, and operational practices like monitoring, observability, and infrastructure automation.

The SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle) is, it seems, just like everything else in human development – building on and (sometimes) learning the lessons of what came before, but at an ever accelerating pace. So, if you have experience, you’re never at the bottom of the learning curve.

You could learn from what the consulting companies have been doing for years, using models like David Maister’s “Consulting Leverage Model”, getting the most “bang for your buck” from your senior people… maximising their time doing the things they are good at, or only they can do – whilst having the leg work undertaken by more junior resources. This delivers a triple benefit – your senior people are able to increase effectiveness and their sphere of influence more widely, they are more engaged as they’re focussing on doing the interesting work AND they also spread that knowledge to more junior people who are at the same time developing and learning.

One challenge often levelled at the consulting firms is “You bring your people in, they learn on my project and my time and then they all ride off into the sunset and go onto your next project, what am I left with?!”

A Different Approach

However, I would suggest a more effective approach. What if you could still get the benefit of the consulting leverage model but simultaneously build your own internal teams working with a consultancy?

What if you could work in a model where your senior staff can be advised on how to make themselves more effective, but then bring in the junior bright, keen individuals with the right attitude and aptitude who have been trained in your technology stack to work with you?

What if they had been selected through a rigorous process where only the top 20 are selected from over 1,000 who apply, and the 20 are then assessed over a 6 week period of tech training to gauge their suitability for a DevOps role? What if they had to pass the further DevOps specific training, proving their ability with delivering practical, real world DevOps assignments? What if then, and only then, they are proposed for DevOps roles. This is exactly what our DevOps Academy delivers.

What if after successfully delivering your DevOps function and allowing your seniors to spread their knowledge further, the consultancy didn’t ride off into the sunset… How would it be if you could retain within your own company the best of them – the ones who have proven to be the most valuable to your organisation and the best fit for your DevOps teams over a period of 12-24 months?

Delivering Success

For 7 years now we have been working with our clients to do exactly this. To build their internal teams using this very model. In practice, this means that we are onboarding trained Ten10 Academy Graduates into teams where the seniors in the team came through our Academy and are now permanent client employees. This creates a shared understanding and a shared experience – everyone has “passed out” of our training, so this eases onboarding. In the case of one client, they have numerous teams managed by one of our former Academy Graduates.

As a benefit of our recruitment strategy – companies are also using our Academy to increase diversity in their engineering teams, a challenge they’ve been struggling with for years. Our Academy is made up of 40% women, 39% people who identify as coming from a ethnic minority background.

We’ve found over the years that bringing in junior resources with the attitude, aptitude and potential to learn very quickly and become immediately effective is powerful. We’ve found when you couple the best, eager-to-learn people with the best training together we can build and grow your future-proofed teams in a market that is supply constrained.