Turnover, documentation and missing links

When staff turnover increases, IT in general and DevOps teams in particular need to be prepared.

As of this writing, the stock market is in turmoil and DevOps compensation is bouncing back. This impacts revenue because many DevOps (and almost all management positions) have compensation that includes stocks – stocks that may be down significantly or are currently at risk of falling. This causes two types of movement: those who leave an organization to avoid further loss of compensation and those who leave their current position to join an organization whose stock is declining. Combined with those who leave for a position with a higher base salary, there are those who leave to earn more and those who leave to avoid more losses. IT budgets have exploded during the pandemic, but those too are deflating, so even if we have a worker, not a shortage of positions, there will be pressures from both sides.

So why is this geek talking about jobs, pay, and available positions?

Simple: because DevOps is no better at documentation than any other version of IT. In well-managed workshops, documentation is available and retained. In most stores, it’s spotty at best. For some, it’s downright non-existent. This has always been true in IT and, on the contrary, it is even more true because the early stages of implementing DevOps bring about a massive amount of change.

People leaving in an environment with less than stellar documentation can be a problem. What tools are used? Where are they located? What is the login for these SaaS tools? etc., etc., etc. If turnover means you lose entire DevOps teams in a relatively short period of time, it can become a nightmare pretty quickly. And this nightmare is very real for all those who stay and those who arrive. Someone has to find a solution; IT management needs to let the rest of the business know that retention issues are causing backlogs. Everyone who isn’t tasked with figuring it out has to take over for those who are…you get the picture.

Take an hour or four and document what you have. It does not need to be exhaustive, it should simply list the tools, where they are located, who within the organization is responsible for credentials across all SaaS vendors, and under what circumstances the tools are used . If each team is documenting their own elements, even in a shared toolchain environment, comparing the documents will uncover small details that one has missed and the other has not.

Let’s face it, we have, for better or worse, largely transitioned to a world where loyalty is based on compensation. Like mercenaries, most IT workers are always on the lookout for a better deal. Thus, the organization, while recognizing this fact, must take steps to minimize the negative impacts of turnover. New ideas and suggestions for changing things up are all good, and you don’t want to interfere with that aspect of sales. But anything that impedes the organization’s ability to deliver needs to be addressed first. And that means that the documentation allows remaining and new employees to quickly get up to speed and take ownership quickly and confidently.

And keep rocking it. Whether you’re looking for a new gig or not, keep the apps you’re responsible for and document them. You have contributed to the success of your organization; don’t slack off as you move forward. And don’t hate those who are moving along. We don’t all base our loyalty on compensation, but we all allow compensation to influence our decisions (unless you work for free and I missed it?) Keep rocking, regardless of your status. And don’t be afraid to tell interviewers that you helped your last organization succeed.

Sam D. Gomez