Turnover, Documentation and Missing Links

When employee turnover spikes, IT in general and DevOps teams in particular need to be prepared.

At the time of this writing, the stock market is roiling, and DevOps compensation is bouncing up. This has an impact on turnover because many in DevOps (and nearly all senior positions) have compensation that includes stock—stock that may be down significantly or that is currently at high risk of going down. This causes two types of movement—those leaving an organization to avoid further loss in their compensation and those who are leaving their current gig to join an organization whose stock is down. Combined with those who leave for a role with a larger base salary, there are those who are to earn more and those who are leaving to avoid more loss. IT budgets ballooned during the pandemic but those, too, are deflating, so while we have a worker, not a position shortage, there will be pressure from both sides.

So, why is this geek going on about employment, compensation and available positions?

Simple: Because DevOps is not any better at documentation than any other flavor of IT. In tightly-run shops, documentation is available and maintained. In most shops, it is spotty at best. In some, it is downright nonexistent. This has forever been true in IT and, if anything, it is more true because the early stages of DevOps implementation result in 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’s the login for these SaaS tools? Etc., etc., etc. If turnover means you’re losing entire DevOps teams in relatively short order, this can become a nightmare relatively quickly. And that nightmare is very real for everyone left behind and those that are coming in. Someone has to go figure it out; IT management has to let the rest of the business know that retention issues are causing backlogs. Everyone not tasked with figuring it out has to pick up slack for those who are … you get the picture.

Take the hour or four and document what you have. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive, it just has to list what tools, where they are, who at the organization is responsible for credentials at any SaaS vendors and under what circumstances the tools are used. If each team documents their own stuff, even in a shared toolchain environment, comparing the documents will uncover little details one missed that another did not.

Let’s face it, we have—for better or worse—moved largely to a world where loyalty is based on compensation. Much like mercenaries, most IT employees are always listening for a better offer. So the organization, while acknowledging this fact, needs to take steps to minimize the negative impacts of turnover. New ideas and suggestions to change things are all good and you don’t want to interfere with that aspect of turnover. But anything that impedes the organization’s ability to deliver should be addressed beforehand. And that means documentation so remaining and new employees can get up to speed quickly and take ownership rapidly and with confidence.

And keep rocking it. Whether you are looking for a new gig or not, keep the apps you are responsible for running—and document them. You’ve contributed to the success of your organization; don’t slack off while moving along. And don’t hate those that are moving along. Not all of us base our loyalty on compensation, but we do all allow compensation to influence our decisions (unless you are working for free and I missed it?) Keep rocking, no matter your status. And don’t hesitate to tell interviewers that you helped your last organization achieve success.

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