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Kevin Boutsen

A day in the life of a DevOps Coach

May 18, 2021

After being a dedicated member of CTG’s ‘flying brigade’ a couple of years, it was time to expand my horizon and take up a new challenge in my career. More than a year ago, I started with a full-time assignment as a DevOps Coach in a big company. Rest assured: it was a challenge!

Let me start by introducing myself: Ten years ago, I graduated as a Bachelor in Information and Communication Technology and started my first job at CTG. After an intensive training in the CTG testing class, I was ready to start my first customer assignments. As a technical person, I focused on mastering the ins and outs of test automation and how to integrate this into a large set of tools. Without realizing it, this was the starting point of my future career as a DevOps coach.

Over the next few years, I became an Implementation Architect and used my development and testing skills to help many customers with performing proof of concepts, defining architectures, giving trainings and helping my sales colleagues in presenting our solutions. Therefore, over the years I have had the opportunity to take up various roles, from being a technical test engineer, lead developer, web designer, trainer and even a DevOps engineer.

Now I felt the time had come to do more with my backpack filled with knowledge and start sharing this with colleagues and customers. Last year, I got the opportunity to start my journey as a DevOps Coach in a big company within the financial sector. This company is going through a complete Agile & DevOps transformation. They have chosen to reorganize themselves around the Spotify model and have adapted the DASA principles for their DevOps journey.

My job, together with eight other DevOps coaches, is to help various teams progress in their DevOps journey. In total, we coach about 8 different tribes that consist of a total of 56 squads. This number keeps growing almost every quarter, as the organization is still going through its transformation.

Around 50% of my time, I am working directly with the different tribes and squads offering support and getting my hands dirty to optimize their flow. Based on the regular maturity assessments I am doing with the squads, I help them to define their DevOps roadmap for the upcoming quarters or year. I mainly focus on the following initiatives: ease the work of the squads even more; bring awareness in the company; share the knowledge across the different tribes and always try to break down even more silos.

One of our biggest challenges was to visualize the real effect of the work we were doing and measuring how the squads were adopting our recommendations. Even after 6 months, we still had difficulties in showing the real value for the company. That made me think how we could use our assessment and initiatives data to visualize the value it delivers. So the idea of an internal State Of DevOps was born. In this report, we can now see how tribes and squads are evolving and we get insights on what works and what does not. The cool thing is that this report is based on real live data from the squads themselves. While this State Of DevOps is still in beta phase, it caught a lot of attention from management and raised the need for even more measurements. We are now at a turning point where it will get very difficult to see real progress without having the measurements in place in advance.

This brings me to another 25% of my time, where I am the lead in aligning all the stakeholders on getting the right metrics in place and aggregating all that data into a single dashboard. This dashboard will allow all different personas to drilldown in the measurement they need. This will e.g. allow our product owners to get a good overview on the Lead Time and Defect escape rate and at the same time allow our squad to see a detailed view of their cycle time efficiency. Together with an innovation team, I am further improving and adapting this report so that it fits in with the needs of everyone.

The remaining 25% of my time goes to the DevSecOps Academy at the customer. 35 internal people were able to enrol in a one-year program to enrich their DevOps skills. In this combination of self-learning trainings, lab exercises and some classroom education, people were able to explore the wonders of the DevOps world. As a DevOps coach my main role here is to follow up on the trainees, organize workshops and provide help for them where needed. To close this Academy journey, we looked for interesting initiatives in the company that the trainees need to provide a solution for.I hope this blog post gives you a better insight in what a day in the life of a DevOps coach means.

If like me, you are interested in continuously learning new things and optimizing flows, be sure to have a look at our CTG DevOps Accelerated initiative and check out https://jobs.ctg.eu/nl/vind-jouw-job/devops-engineer. And who knows, maybe one day we can work together and help teams getting better, faster and more efficient in their job!

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