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Cross Functional Autonomous Teams - DevOps Principle #4

In product organisations with vertical, fully responsible teams, the teams need to be fully autonomous throughout the entire life-cycle of the product. Therefore, the teams should possess all the necessary expertise to take on the end-to-end responsibility.

For me, this skill came naturally from decades of doing what needed to be done to deliver solutions. We just didn't have a name for it. Now we call it DevOps :) But from the rise and fall of the waterfall methodology and the risk averse culture bestowed upon systems admin and operations departments, an ideology of SME's and Governance Control has made delivering value to the customer an unnecessary burden to system stability.

So what does the 4th principle of DevOps achieve? A lot!

Team members have to be empowered and supported in having the ability to take on many roles within the team to ensure that value is delivered to the customer with minimal bottlenecks and roadblocks. Rapid delivery to the customer can be achieved.

Work is to be managed as a product rather than a project so that teams are autonomous in the decision making tasks required to successfully deliver and maintain their product. Work is never done, it continues to get better and better until end of life.

A big emphasis on automation and "baking in ..." is required to assist with skill shortages such as Testing, Code Build, Deployment, Security Checks, Code Quality Checks, Feedback gathering, Monitoring and Alerts etc. Now you know how the Netflix of the world deliver multiple times per day.

Patrick Debois, the godfather of the DevOps movement, always says DevOps is a human problem. Doing DevOps requires a culture that brings people together so that they can understand each other’s perspectives and concerns. The aim is to enable teams to build and deliver resilient IT services that are production ready, in a timely manner. DevOps is synergistic. It requires people to collaborate effectively by:

  • Ensuring they have overlapping skills and knowledge, combined with complementary specialist skills and knowledge (T-shaped profiles).

  • Giving feedback to each other.

  • Avoiding blame evaluations (no blame game or finger pointing).

  • Trusting each other (Having a high-trust culture has a strong impact on both IT performance and organisational performance.).

It doesn't stop there. The evolution of autonomous teams leads to a shift in the way companies look at how they service customers. Responsibilities are shifted both left and right. Questions are raised about what a company structure and org chart should look like.

Paul Mateos

Solutions Consultant | Pufferfish Solutions

To Learn more about the 6 Core principles of DevOps, please visit or contact us today at

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