You don’t need new staff or tools to make DevOps work

Fin Goulding tells Computing that DevOps is just about increasing efficiency – not about new tools or job titles

Despite an apparent IT skills shortage in DevOps, Paddy Power CIO Fin Goulding believes that existing staff can be trained to work in a DevOps environment, but acknowledges that it may take some time for them to adapt to a new way of working.

Goulding told Computing at Splunk Live in London yesterday that Paddy Power was in the midst of shifting from being an agile company to a “super agile” company adopting lean and kanban methodologies to go along with scrum.

When asked by Computing if existing staff – both developers and engineers within the operations team – can be trusted to move to a DevOps environment without the need for further recruitment, Goulding said “yes, exactly”.

He said that changes within the organisation, including the move to DevOps, did, however, prove a stumbling block with some staff.

“Some people don’t like to let go of things they’ve built up skills in and be shifted to something else brand new,” he said.

Goulding said the problem can be to do with the lack of soft skills that many of the staff have.

“Often if you haven’t got those people skills you have to bring them in and have people help you – these will be occupational type psychologists or design experts, for example, and you have to go through a change and bring people on that journey and that’s really hard for us.

“But once you start saying to people ‘this is how it’s going to work, it’s going to make your job more enjoyable, we’re going to give you access to things you’ve never had before and break down some barriers and silos’, you start to hit a tipping point where people get really interested,” he said.

At Paddy Power, Goulding had a development team and an engineering team on different floors who communicated through tickets and emails for about two or three years.

He said that when the teams were put together, it was the first time they had ever met, despite working in the same building. The firm is now seeing big productivity increases because they don’t have to go through the laborious ticket system, and because engineers can show developers how to get things done on their own.

“They’re actually enjoying it for the first time, and we’re seeing a lot of changes in behaviour but it all comes down to a cultural change, you hear a lot about people talking about DevOps tools and job titles, but that’s all rubbish – it’s really about putting people together in a more efficient way,” Goulding explained.