Managing DevOps projects is not an easy task. It can be increasingly difficult to plan a project effectively and realistically. Especially in something so sensitive as development operations. Prioritize tasks One of the best ways to ensure the effectiveness of your DevOps is to prioritize your tasks, or you end up making a lot of mistakes.
Prioritization in DevOps – Why Is It Important?
Whether you’re managing a floor of onsite developers or managing a remote team like me using Spectrum internet only, your DevOps efficiency depends heavily on how well you prioritize tasks. However, this is hardly ever an easy matter.
Getting your team to prioritize their DevOps work can be extremely frustrating. There are 2 aspects to the work you need to prioritize. The first aspect consists of work that is coming up in the dev team itself. The second aspect consists of work coming in from other teams that rely on DevOps.
Most companies these days have organized themselves into cross-functional teams. Many of these teams have a mix of internal and external customers. Planning, prioritizing, and executing tasks is therefore much harder than it used to be. But if you don’t do them right, you stand to lose ground. Here are 5 reasons you need to prioritize tasks for DevOps:
- Data-Based Priorities
- Consistent Prioritization Criteria
- Prioritizing Goals
- Collaborative Prioritization
- Prioritize Projects Based on Timeframes
Read on to find out more about how prioritization helps with DevOps efficiency.
Conventionally, prioritizing cross-team tasks has always been a hurdle for managers. This is true even if the teams involved just work on one product or service. One of the major reasons behind this is that teams assign tasks based on instinct or gut feeling Prioritize tasks. This brings in a certain element of assumption to your prioritization, which will lead to problems later on in the project. When prioritizing tasks, it is usually much more prudent to rely on data. Once you have this data after doing a bit of homework, you can work on prioritizing your tasks based on areas like:
- The problems you need to tackle.
- The impact of these problems on customers and on the business.
- The value in solving these problems is on priority.
Consistent Prioritization Criteria
So we know that prioritizing tasks based on your gut feel is not the way to go. Group-think is another pitfall you need to learn to avoid. Team leads often make the mistake of gathering in closed meetings to brainstorm and prioritize tasks. The popular ideas get voted forward, while the unpopular ones get dropped. This is a huge mistake. Prioritizing tasks shouldn’t be a popularity contest.
You need to use the same criteria to objectively evaluate all tasks and projects. This will help you eliminate the ideas from the limelight that sound good but are ineffective. Base your criteria on measurable aspects and factors, such as:
- Revenue potential.
- Budget constraints.
- Timing sensitivity.
This will help you divide tasks into “must-haves”, “nice to haves” and “won’t haves”.
One common mistake among DevOps team leads is to agree to more things than they have the capacity to accomplish. You must have found yourself in a similar position. You often walk into prioritization meetings, with different team leads arguing for different goals. You walk out with a longer to-do list than you had when you walked in. What’s more, you can’t definitively tell which tasks add the most value to the project or projects.
Luckily, there is a simpler alternative. Simply gather your team leads and hammer out the details of the top-level goals first. After that, it is just a matter of sticking to those goals. Projects that don’t align with top-level goals get less priority than those that do Prioritize tasks.
Many prioritization meetings can run for hours because managers and team leads make one very common mistake. They try to brainstorm and prioritize collaboratively. The brainstorming part is better done individually rather than in a meeting. Brainstorming can be pretty messy and inefficient. More often than not, it is based on opinions rather than research, so its best if you do it individually.
A better idea is to involve team members in collaborative prioritization. For instance, team members can create ideas and send them around for feedback before a major prioritization meeting. This way, you can remove ideas that don’t work towards top-level goals before the meeting even starts.
Prioritize Projects Based on Timeframes
It can be challenging to balance high-impact tasks and the urgency they require. However, you can make the process easier by prioritizing them based on specific timeframes. That way you can allocate the bulk of your capacity to high-impact, high-urgency tasks as well as some capacity to high-impact but low urgency tasks. I saw a TV show entitled Mad Men on my Spectrum channel lineup, Prioritize tasks and it struck me how chaotic things used to be among cross-functional teams in the 1960s. Things are even more complicated now, but the steps above can help you stay on track.