The 2016 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey showed that CIOs are being hindered by the greatest technology skills shortage since the Great Recession almost a decade ago. Almost…

Managing the DevOps Talent Challenge

The 2016 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey showed that CIOs are being hindered by the greatest technology skills shortage since the Great Recession almost a decade ago. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of CIOs say they believe a lack of talent will prevent their organization from keeping up with the pace of change, a 10 percent increase in just 12 months.

In a recent Computer Weekly article, Joe Pynadath, EMEA general manager and vice-president at Chef, talking at the ChefConf summit in Austin, Texas, said that the scarcity of IT professionals with DevOps skills often prevents organisations from taking their continuous delivery efforts company-wide. “How quickly organisations can bring in the right level of expertise has become one of the key limiting factors for organisations that want to scale-up DevOps on a broad level,” he said.

DevOps engineers are notoriously difficult to find. If you needed further proof of this fact, a new study by has revealed that DevOps engineer is the #1 hardest IT job to fill in North America, leading a list that includes software and mobile engineers.

To compound matters the traditional recruitment sources and methods don’t appear to be working well in identifying and attracting the right staff. This is partly due to the relative “newness” of DevOps. There aren’t large numbers of people with well-defined DevOps experience. Indeed DevOps is more of a cultural change rather than a specific technical skill set. It is also complicated by the rapid pace of change with new tools emerging every day that perform very specific functions.

In this scenario your existing DevOps employees are likely to play a very important role in helping you find and recruit the best talent. The Puppet 2016 State of DevOps Report found that employees from high performing DevOps teams were 2.2 times more likely to recommend their organisation to a friend as a great place to work than those in low performing teams.

This isn’t just a feel-good factor. The Puppet report found a very strong correlation between a high score on recommendations to friends and very specific cultural and organisational habits. Where organisations collected customer feedback and used that to inform the development of products; when teams could visualise and understand the flow of products from inception, through development all the way to the customer and where the employees identify with their organisation’s goals and objectives, organisations achieved high levels of recommendation.

Your existing DevOps teams can also give you a good indication where those hard to find specialists hang out.

Online there are community sites like Stack Exchange or DevOps Zone. DevOps conferences are also a good place to go and engage with the sort of people you are looking for. You might also consider keeping an eye on Github to find developers who are demonstrating their skills through open-source and private projects.

So, the bottom line is this. Be proactive and think laterally about how you go about looking for DevOps specialists. Importantly, focus on those key cultural changes that enable your DevOps teams to see how what they do feeds directly in to delivering what customers want. At Percipience we have helped customers develop that culture and build high performing teams. We know it works.

If you want to keep up-to-date with the latest development in DevOps sign up for our monthly newsletter. All new registrations will receive a copy of the Percipience DevOps white paper. In our next blog we will be looking at how the DevOps concept of “moving to the left” helps drive improvements in quality.

by Peter BornerPeter is the founder and Managing Partner of Percipience llp. He is an entrepreneur and successful business leader with board level experience and senior leadership roles with global firms including Sony Music, British Telecom, Liquid Audio and Axispoint. He currently holds a non executive position on the advisory board for Rise-To and is active in the third sector with Rotary and The Rotary Foundation. His expertise includes technology diligence for M&A and advising firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies, Agile and DevOps.

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