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How do you decide when to hire a DevOps engineer?

It’s a no-brainer that every company needs a DevOps engineer. However, sometimes startups and bigger companies may face another dilemma, and it’s about the right time to consider hiring these professionals.

Many aspects play a role in determining the right timing for this action. You must consider all aspects to get the best out of your investments in the business and the overall work dynamic in the long run.

You may wonder if you should do it at the start of a project or if you can do it randomly as the project stages progress. Is there other helpful info to help you decide on the DevOps team size or roles when you decide to hire?

When do you need to hire for a DevOps developer role?

A company needs DevOps engineers for many good reasons. If you look at the checklist below, you’ll know whether you need to hire a DevOps independent developer, i.e., how soon or urgently you should do it.

Does your company need the following:

  • Developing infrastructure?

  • Improving and upgrading configurations?

  • Automating processes?

  • Better monitoring of UI as well as KPIs?

  • Reaching larger markets in other regions?

  • Implementing various new tools?

  • Performing risk management and improving cybersecurity?

  • Deploying CI/CD tools?

  • Improvement in CI/CD pipeline?

  • Future-goal-driven thinking for improvements?

  • More implementation of Cloud/Infrastructure security?

  • Cost saving – DevOps make sure that the company doesn’t spend too much on cloud infrastructure?

According to Stack Overflow Survey 2022, implementing DevOps, automated testing, and CI/CD in the business is the norm for most organizations and businesses. The dilemma is not whether to hire DevOps but when and how to hire for this fundamental methodology role.

When do you need the dedicated DevOps engineer(s)?

Here’s what you need to consider regarding the exact role and conditions for your future DevOps engineer.

Consider the project’s start date

Ideally, to ensure the whole workflow goes smoothly, you should hire a DevOps engineer at the initial project stages, early on, and preferably full-time, unless you decide on other availability models. The sooner you hire them, the better a DevOps engineer should be included from start to finish of a task, especially if it’s a big, complex, and long-term one.

The sooner they start, the better they conduct the testing, security checks, OS functionalities, and regular-frequent maintenance, among other things. Let’s not forget that starting with DevOps sooner means fewer potential challenges down the road or repairing how things are done much later on, thus, saving money by investing in the hiring sooner.

Consider the development team’s size

A good rule to remember is that the perfect time to hire for a DevOps role is when your team already consists of at least three independent developers. The developer-to-DevOps ratio plays a huge role in successful working because the larger the developer teams, the more you need DevOps professionals.

Usually, an optimal Developer-DevOps ratio is 3:1 to 5:1 approximately. For example, large corporate brands, such as Google, keep up the ratio of 6:1, which is still good. But, many startups that have already become successful and with larger teams make the mistake of the 15:1 Developer-DevOps ratio.

Depending on how large your teams are, you can decide when it’s high time to hire for DevOps and how many positions you’d need to fill for this role. So if you start hiring for more developers as time passes, rely on a ratio formula to see how soon or urgently you’d need to look for (additional) DevOps engineer(s).

When do you need a structured and dedicated DevOps team?

You could be unsure what you need exactly, but through staffing providers, you’ll get a clear idea of which DevOps roles you need to hire, how many, and for which engagement stage too.

Consider the company size

Depending on the size of your startup or company, the need for DevOps varies and changes, and some may need just one or a few DevOps engineers, while others may need a whole team respectively.

  • New startup – As mentioned above, depending on the number of developers in a new startup, you can define the right time to hire for DevOps. If a startup is relatively small with just a few developers, it might be time to look for one DevOps engineer. Remember the ratios above? More than three developers is already a good sign you need to hire for this methodology.

  • Scaling startup – As mentioned, you need a DevOps engineer when the developer teams grow. At this point, tasks become complex, the dynamic is busier, and several teams are working on different things.

  • Big tech companies – At this point, many developers are working toward one goal. Having more DevOps engineers is a must.

Consider the DevOps team layout types

Depending on the company's needs and the project, you can consider various DevOps team types.

  • If you need DevOps engineers for all stages of developing, testing, and for operations…

The best choice is a centralized DevOps team. Here, the DevOps team will cover all these stages while responsible for more than one engagement or product.

  • If you need DevOps for a specific team of developers…

The best choice here is an embedded DevOps team. They will work with an appointed team of developers more closely and monitor the task outcome and the product for an improved and highly optimized delivery.

  • If you need DevOps for more developers’ teams…

The best choice here is a distributed DevOps team. Here, this team will work with more than one team of developers. This option is excellent for scaling a strategy for testing in bigger companies.

  • If you need DevOps just for specific stages of the software delivery…

The best choice here is a specialized DevOps team. Here, this team will focus on particular aspects during software delivery. Perhaps you need more focus on managing the infrastructure or the testing as a whole aspect.

Consider the DevOps engineer roles

There are several DevOps engineer roles, each of which has a valuable contribution to the whole team. When combined, they make an unbeatable grouping for any tech company.

Let’s break the roles down regarding the business need for that particular project stage.

  • When do you need to hire specific DevOps roles?
  1. For creating a DevOps-oriented, flexible architecture, you need System Architects.

  2. For Release and deployment, you need Release Engineers.

  3. For successful collaboration and participation of teams in security practices, you need Security engineers.

  4. You need a DevOps evangelist to strengthen the DevOps culture and mission and simplify the transfer from non-DevOps to DevOps-oriented work.

  5. When you want 24-7 monitoring, you need DevOps + NOC team.

  6. When you want to explore new tools without affecting the current work, you need an R&D engineer.

When to hire full-time DevOps?

We can conclude that hiring a full-time DevOps engineer is usually the best choice. If you want impeccable automation and smoothly working on all processes in the project, you’d need this engineer (or a team of them) at all times, or at least until the project ends. But, even when the project ends, the work around it doesn’t stop, so the need for DevOps doesn’t necessarily end when the task does.

  • Hiring a full-time DevOps engineer is best and most common when:

  • You have enough budget allocated for a full-time team member arrangement

  • The task is long, complex, and very challenging

  • You have a lot of developers already, or the existing smaller developer teams grow fast

  • You need to reorganize your way of working from scratch or at least make significant improvements to it

  • When a task is about to start, and you need to ensure it’s perfectly running at all times

These are the main, core points of the best times to hire a full-time DevOps engineer, and according to your capabilities and needs, you might refer to some points accordingly.

When to hire part-time Devops?

As mentioned throughout the article above, going for more working hours with a DevOps engineer is preferable because this role encompasses many other sub-roles. It is a whole methodology and requires communication and collaboration with others.

Still, depending on your capabilities and needs, you can go for various contract solutions or hiring models that best suit your needs, time-wise and cost-wise.

  • Hiring a part-time DevOps engineer is best and most common when:

  • You are on a tight budget, and you want to save money

  • You have a simpler, shorter task

  • You want to refresh just a few processes in your work, not every single one

  • You believe that a task-based DevOps engineer would be suitable for some engagement stages

  • You want to test out what the DevOps engineer does before committing to full-time or long term

  • Or, even perhaps, you already have full-time DevOps engineers, but they could use an extra hand for smaller tasks

Conclusion

By now, it’s obvious how needed is a DevOps engineer, regardless of what you choose as a hiring arrangement. Depending on your needs and goals, you probably need one or more such engineers to propel development and other processes faster and better.

To have your development and operations working smoothly as one and to nurture much better collaborations between teams included in the engagement, and company, you should decide when it’s the best time to hire a DevOps engineer.

There are many affordable options for having DevOps incorporated into your business, making improvements in current work all too possible and recommended.

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