What is a DevOps Team Structure? - A Complete Guide

DevOps is an increasingly popular way of developing software that brings both development and operations teams together to make sure products are delivered quickly and efficiently.

According to Atlassian, over 99% of organizations who have adopted DevOps say it has had a positive impact - with many claiming it leads to higher quality products and cuts lead times.

The key to successful DevOps is collaboration and clear team roles - and that requires a clear DevOps team structure.

In this article, Instatus will define what a DevOps team is and discuss the ideal team structure for your agile DevOps teams!

What is DevOps Team?

A DevOps strategy aims to reduce the silos between your development and operations teams. Instead, these two teams are combined so that software engineers work across the entire application lifecycle.

These software engineers will have developed skills in both development and operations - and can work on either end of the application lifecycle.

This doesn’t mean that some engineers can’t focus on a specific role - such as CICD, IaaS or automation - but those who are responsible for development tasks are commonly in direct contact with operations and release managers.

A strong DevOps practitioner should possess a solid technical foundation, effective communication skills, a collaborative mindset, and the ability to adapt. Having a balance of these traits is crucial, rather than just a comprehensive knowledge of Kubernetes or Git. However, having both technical expertise and interpersonal skills is a definite plus.

How can a DevOps Team Benefit You?


The DevOps approach involves overseeing every stage of the software development process, including planning, development, integration, testing, deployment, and operations.

By closely monitoring the entire lifecycle, DevOps teams are able to swiftly and efficiently address any decline in customer experience.

Shorter Development Cycles, Faster Innovation

When a DevOps team builds a strong working relationship between developers and operations engineers, applications can be built and updated far more quickly.

Nearly half of all organizations who have adopted DevOps believe that it reduces their time to market, according to research by Atlassian.

This rapid development helps companies respond to market changes faster and innovate faster than competitors.

Higher reliability

DevOps makes the process of creating and launching software more reliable by reducing the likelihood of errors.

A direct line of communication between developers and release managers can help bugs be caught and resolved faster, whilst the whole DevOps structure encourages ongoing testing and development throughout the product lifecycle.

Things to Consider When Forming DevOps Team

Retention is as important as recruitment

Companies may jump at the opportunity to hire new software engineers when filling out a new DevOps team - but you should properly consider how you are integrating existing employees into this team.

In fact, retaining employees and integrating them into a DevOps structure is just as important as finding new engineers. Why is this?

It costs a lot less to keep and train existing talent than it does to recruit new talent, which you'll still need to retain in the long run.Save money and benefit from inside knowledge by finding people in your company to join a new DevOps team. These employees already know your company and its culture, and you’ll spend less time training and onboarding them!

Given that, however, you will need to hire some DevOps engineers at some point. Here’s our guide on what to look out for when hiring DevOps developers for when the time comes!

Creating cross-functional product teams for DevOps

To develop a holistic user experience, we recommend building DevOps teams that are formed around multiple functions of your product and its lifecycle.

Instead of having separate teams for development, UI/UX, QA, and operations, you should bring this talent together into a cross-functional team. A cross-functional setup can ensure that all aspects of the software development lifecycle are considered and addressed.

This amplifies the benefits of DevOps - leading to even faster time-to-market, improved product quality, and increased customer satisfaction. A cross-functional approach works best in medium and large companies and you’ll need enough staff to fill the requirements of each function.

Promote teamwork and coordination among team members

One of the most significant factors to DevOps success is fostering a culture of teamwork and collaboration within your teams.

DevOps is a way of creating software that combines Agile methods and ideas, such as using technology to make things faster and having development and operations teams work together more effectively. This helps teams make, fix, and release software more quickly.

To achieve this, all team members should be able to share ideas, discuss product features and resolve problems together. All DevOps team members should also learn from each other and pick up skills in all product functions.

Want to explore why you should integrate your DevOps with UX? Read our complete guide on the topic here.

DevOps Team Management Best Practices

Employ value stream mapping

Value stream mapping is an essential tool embraced by modern DevOps teams to visualize their workflows and gain valuable insights. By doing so, they can identify areas that need optimization to improve the flow of product increments and enhance the overall value-creation process.

This practice empowers teams to streamline their operations, increase efficiency, and deliver high-quality software with greater speed and precision.

Figure out your hiring plan

Understanding and formulating a clear hiring plan stands as one of the best practices in DevOps Team Management because it ensures that you find the right people with the necessary skills for your team. When you hire the right individuals, they can collaborate effectively, be more productive, and contribute to the scalability of your projects.

A well-thought-out hiring plan leads to a successful DevOps team that can tackle challenges with confidence and deliver exceptional results. A solid hiring plan would also include a smooth hiring process, as the right candidate can be easily discouraged by extended periods of inactivity, repetitive interviews, and prolonged negotiations over a relatively low salary.

Consider the different roles

Each role plays a crucial part in the development and operations process, and by carefully evaluating the specific skills and responsibilities required for each position, you can ensure that the right individuals are assigned to the right tasks.

This strategic alignment enhances collaboration, efficiency, and effectiveness within the team, leading to smoother workflows and successful project outcomes. Embracing this practice empowers the team members to focus on their areas of expertise, fostering a harmonious and productive work environment.

Consider your own requirements when building your team

Each organization has unique requirements and limitations, and by taking these into account, you can create a team that aligns perfectly with your goals and resources. This approach optimizes resource allocation, maximizes productivity, and fosters a cohesive team dynamic.

It allows you to address specific challenges and capitalize on opportunities, ultimately leading to more successful and sustainable outcomes for your DevOps initiatives. Being mindful of your requirements empowers you to make informed decisions that best suit your organization's needs, driving long-term success in your DevOps endeavors.

Consider your communication mechanisms internally and externally

Communication is the backbone of a successful team. Internally, clear and open communication fosters collaboration, ensures everyone is on the same page, and prevents misunderstandings. It enables team members to share ideas, address challenges, and work cohesively towards common goals. Externally, transparent communication with stakeholders, clients, and other teams builds trust and strengthens relationships. It facilitates the smooth flow of information, enhances problem-solving, and enables the team to adapt quickly to changes. By prioritizing effective communication, DevOps teams can overcome challenges, streamline processes, and create a positive and productive work environment, driving overall success in their projects.

Types of DevOps Team Structure

What are some great examples of a DevOps team structure that your team should follow? Here are some popular structures:

#1: Development and Operations Teams in Collaboration

DevOps combines development and operations into one seamless process. This makes it possible for the software development team to create, test, and release code faster and more reliably.

The most rudimentary approach to DevOps is fostering collaboration between pre-existing development and operation teams.

How can this be achieved? Here are some steps and best practices to follow:

  • Establish a direct line of communication between development and operations managers. We recommend that these teams work in the same office, but remote companies should open shared channels and encourage regular meetings.
  • Both development and operations teams should discuss a product strategy and contribute their thoughts and ideas equally. Everyone should understand the overall vision and direction of the software product.
  • It's important for both teams to understand each other's needs and goals. By working together and communicating, both teams can achieve these goals. This is why it’s so important to regularly meet and discuss the project!

2: Development and operations together

Another popular structure is combining development and operations teams together into one cohesive team. The idea is this team has no separation between development and operations.

This approach is commonly called “NoOps” as it removes the need for a distinct operations team. This approach works best when a company is developing a single digital product. That’s why the NoOps approach works for companies like Netflix, where software engineers can quickly build and maintain new features and fixes.

NoOps is an extension of the “you build it, you run it” philosophy established by IT teams in the mid-2000s. This dictates that the engineers that develop applications and features are responsible for running and maintaining them.

3: SRE (Google model)

SRE - or Site Reliability Engineering - refers to the practice of offloading software from a development team to an additional team that handles operations and maintenance. It’s a team structure used religiously by Google, delivering products such as Google Maps, Gmail, Google Cloud and more.

How does that differ from the traditional siloed approach? Releases and accepted or rejected based on their performance or reliability. Here’s how SRE works:

  • Developers create products with the features they’d like to implement, in accordance with the product strategy.
  • These releases are passed over to an SRE team. It’s important to note that these teams have the power to green or red-light launches - but have to follow a mathematical structure.
  • SRE teams set a service level agreement (SLA). This is commonly an agreed uptime benchmark (often 99%) - creating an “error budget”. If the product is running smoothly with minimal errors, it can be launched. If the error budget is exceeded and an SLA is not met, the launch will be halted.
  • The SRE team is kitted out with expert-level developers who can not only detect problems but fix them too. These engineers are encouraged to “get their hands dirty”, and in fact, SREs can only spend 50% of their time on Ops work.

SRE and development teams work together on these operational standards and benchmarks. The SRE team has the authority to request that developers improve their code before release.

#4: Ops as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Platform)

In this team structure, a distinct “DevOps” team is set up within a development team to act as a source of expertise for the development team.

This approach is popular with “cloud-ready” companies who often have established IT operations teams to deal with the complex maintenance of their software products.

This DevOps team is responsible for relaying information from the Ops teams on operational features and metrics, and also guiding development teams on DevOps practices.

This team is still considered a development team and follows established practices such as Test-Driven Development, Continuous Integration, iterative development, mentorship, etc.

This approach is brilliant for teams who cannot change rapidly and is designed to slowly instil the DevOps philosophy into existing teams.

#5: DevOps as an External Party

The least destructive way of adopting DevOps is to hire a consultant or team that is external to both your development and operations teams.

This external party can advise on DevOps practices, encourage the use of automation, monitoring and configuration management and foster collaboration between teams. This is usually a temporary setup - as teams would be expected to slowly transition to another, more permanent structure.

Take control of your DevOps through Real-Time Uptime Monitoring with Instatus

A pillar of DevOps is the use of operational metrics, benchmarks and features. Understanding the status of your product helps you identify issues and respond to them rapidly.

Instatus is a tool that allows you to quickly get a beautiful status page.

This page gives you a complete look at your runtime and will notify you if your product is down. This can help SRE teams in particular as error budgets can be judged at a glance.

It’s important to remember that even with a robust DevOps team structure, your organization needs to have a solid backup plan for when things don’t go exactly right.

During downtime, this status page will keep your customers satisfied and in the loop, even when the unexpected happens.

Try out Instatus today, by getting a free status page for your organization.

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