6 Steps to Collaboration Nirvana
An experience IT industry leader gives six steps that any team can follow to create a more collaborative and efficient working environment.
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The sudden move to fully remote work has accelerated plenty of changes in the way companies operate. Chief among those shifts has been an increased reliance on different collaboration methods. And, behind the scenes, many organizations have leaned more heavily on DevOps-type practices to keep a remote workforce running smoothly. Organizations that have implemented or extended DevOps processes and found new ways to collaborate are closer than their competitors to collaboration nirvana. How can others follow in their footsteps?
Here are the six steps to collaboration nirvana.
1. Consider the Culture
Many companies leverage collaboration tools. But collaboration nirvana requires that companies develop a team culture and collaboration practices around communication. It's not enough to simply implement a collaboration platform. Leaders can consider making collaboration a more interactive experience. Inviting everyone to join collaboration platforms by personalizing, or even gamifying, the process can be a good way to build this culture.
Encourage team members to post screenshots or code snippets or other items they're working on. See if your company culture can consider participation in collaboration activities, like a cooperative board game. Get everyone onto the platform discussing timely topics and solving problems together. Have fun with custom emojis and gifs and create off-topic forums for water cooler discussions. With collaboration part of company culture, the entire team will be inclined toward making progress together every day as collaboration becomes easier and more fluid.
2. Automate When Possible
Once centralized collaboration becomes comfortable and part of the company culture, branch out to different facets of the organization. Communication is crucial for crisis management and solving tough problems. Communication is also key to many DevOps workflows, such as incident response or code deployment. In many cases, clever organizations can automate parts of the collaboration process for many different use cases. For example, automated alerts from DevOps tools reduce the risk of missed notifications, cut down on manual work, and prevent context switching.
Organizations can also automate other processes, such as sales lead funnel activities, social media marketing efforts, and even employee onboarding. The possibilities with today's collaboration tools are endless. Savvy leaders will help their teams automate business processes so that collaboration tools become more than just communications channels; they turn into a hub for all company activity.
3. Build Workflows
Now that you've automated some basic alerts and processes, it’s time to focus on automating your command and control for the entire organization. For example, DevOps teams regularly receive common requests, which include provisioning environments or running reports. It takes time that may be better spent on more crucial tasks.
To free up DevOps teams, companies can set up self-provisioning tasks in the public communication channel. These messages show the entire company what sorts of queries people are asking and the data that comes back in return. Putting this process front and center will introduce greater transparency and information sharing for the entire company. Furthermore, showing everyone the requests the DevOps teams are addressing will empower others to offer support if needed.
The real beauty of automating provisioning and making the process visible is that automation keeps people from making mistakes when running robust and potent queries that may otherwise harm the infrastructure.
4. Add a Human Touch
This next step may seem like a bit of a paradox. With appropriate automation in place, it's time to make things feel a bit more human. The way to do this is through bots. Why bots? People forget commands and the different parameters for those commands. Bots don't forget. But how do bots help humanize things?
Luckily, today's bots can offer a friendly user interface with plenty of character. Bots can express any number of human-like emotions, from anger to goofiness to excitement. Pick the type of responses you think will engage employees and drive ongoing use. In effect, bots serve two major purposes: they make it easier for a wider variety of users to automate tasks while also humanizing the tasks that would otherwise seem rote.
Now, it's time to plug everything in. Application integrations for collaboration platforms abound, so use them. Specifically, consider embedding specific applications into team channels, or even embedding chat into crucial applications that may not otherwise enable collaboration. Plugins like these can be useful on both the front-end and backend of a given application. For example, web app plugins might allow teams to customize the UI of a given platform or make it easier to integrate with third-party systems like some of the most popular DevOps platforms, such as Jira, Jenkins, Bitbucket, and GitLab.
6. Connect the Bots
With a collaboration culture, bots, and automation in place, you're almost at collaboration nirvana. The final step is to connect the bots. People have learned to collaborate more efficiently, so why not your bots? Putting this final piece in place will add that final layer of agility organizations need to realize their full potential.
Bot collaboration has great potential to improve many more workflows. Bots talking to bots, bots talking to humans, and vice versa can help introduce a state of nirvana that truly amplifies organizational performance. Think about your proverbial war room — the place everyone goes when a crisis is afoot or a big challenge needs solving. When a disruption like an outage happens, messages are going to flow into that war room nonstop. Humans cannot read all of those messages. Bots, on the other hand, can easily pull out certain messages, and copy them into appropriate channels, where people can easily interact with the messages. They can also send messages from team members back to the war room – and all of this is done in natural human language.
Organizations have been pressed into unusual circumstances. How they approach their mode of operations will go a long way toward determining the trajectory of the company moving forward. Collaboration and expanded DevOps practices must be at the center of fully remote workforces, and following these six steps to enhancing their presences within your organization will lead to collaboration nirvana, a state required by the modern organization.
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