Tag Archives: waysofworking

My First 4 months at Bazaarvoice as a DevOps Engineer

I joined Bazaarvoice as a DevOps engineer into the Cloud engineering team in September 2023. It has been a very busy first 4 months learning a lot in terms of technical and soft skills. In this post I have highlighted my key learnings from my start at BV.


One of the key takeaways I have taken is no work in the DMs. I, and I imagine many others are used to asking questions via direct message to whom we believe would be most knowledgeable on the subject. Which can often lead to a goose chase of getting different names from various people until you find who can help. One thing my team Cloud Engineering utilizes is asking all work-related questions in public channels in slack. Firstly, this removes any wild goose chases as anyone who is knowledgeable on the matter can chime in not just a single person. Furthermore, by having these questions public it creates a FAQ page within slack. I often find myself now debugging or finding answers by searching questions/key words straight into the slack search bar and finding threads of questions which are addressing the same issues I’m facing. This means there are no repetitive answers and I do not have to wait on response times.

Bazaarvoice is a global organisation where I have team members across time zones. This essentially means you have only 50% of the day where myself and my colleagues in the US are online. So, using that time asking questions which have already been answered is not a productive use of time.

Work Ownership

Another concept which I have changed my views on is work ownership and pushing tickets forward as a team.

If you compare a Jira ticket from the first piece of work I started to my current Jira tickets 4 months in, you’ll notice now there is a stream of update comments in my current tickets. This feeds into the concept of the team owning the work rather than just myself. By having constant update comments if I fall ill or for whatever reason can’t continue a ticket a member of the team can easily get context on the state of the ticket by reading through the comments. This allows them to push the ticket forward themselves. Posting things like error messages and current blockers in the Jira comments also allows team members to offer their insight and input instead of keeping everything private.

As well as this upon finishing work, I would usually find another ticket to pick up, however what I now understand is that completing the teams work for the sprint is what’s important, using spare time now to help push the team’s tickets over the line with code reviews, jumping in huddles to troubleshoot issues as well as picking up tickets that colleagues haven’t got round to in the sprint. I now understand the importance of completing work as a team rather than an individual.

Treating internal stakeholders as customers

Bazaarvoice has many external customers and there are many teams who cater to these customers. However, in Cloud Engineering we are not an external customer facing team. Although, we do still have customers. This concept was strange to me at first where our colleagues in other teams were regarded as “customers”. The relationship is largely the same with how one would communicate and have expectations of external customers. We have SLA’s which are agreed upon as well as a “slack channel” for cloud related queries or escalations which the on-call engineer will handle. This customer relationship allows us to deliver efficiently with transparency. Another aspect of this is how we utilise a service request and playbook model. A service request is a common task/operation for our team to complete such as create an AWS account or create a VPC pairing. The service request template will extract all the necessary information from the customer needed to fulfil the request. This removes back and forth conversation between operator and customer, gathering the required information. Each service request is paired with a playbook for the operator to use. These playbooks include step by step instructions of how the operator can fulfil this request. Allowing someone like me from as early as week 2 to be able to fulfil customer requests.

Context shifting

In previous roles I would have to drop current workloads to deal with escalations or colleague questions. This requires a context shift where you must leave the current work and switch focus to something completely unrelated. Once the escalation/query is resolved then you must switch back. This can be tiresome and getting back into the original context of which I was working on takes time. This again feeds into the customer relationship the team has with internal stakeholders. A member of the team will be “on-call” for that week where they will handle all customer requests and answer customer queries. This allows the rest of the team to stick within their current context and deep focus on the task at hand without needing to switch focus. I have found this very beneficial when working on tasks which require a lot of deep focus and as such feel a lot more focussed in my delivery of meaningful work.

Utilising the size of the organisation

The organisation’s codebase consists of 1.5k repositories containing code serving all kinds of functionality. This means when embarking on a new piece of work there is often a nice template from another team which can be used which has a similar context due to being in the same organisation (same security constraints, AWS accounts ect.). For example, I recently created a GitHub Actions release workflow for one of our systems but had problems with authenticating into AWS via the workflow. A simple GitHub search for what I was looking for allowed me to find a team who has tackled the same problem I am facing. Meaning I can see how my code differs from theirs and make changes accordingly. I have had a problem solved by another team without them even realising!

Learn by doing!

I find reading documentation about systems can only get you so far in terms of understanding. Real understanding, I believe, comes from being able to actively make changes to a system and deploy these changes as a new release. This is something me and my onboarding mentor utilised. They set me a piece of work which I could go away and try in the mornings then we’d come together in the afternoon in a slack huddle to review my progress (making use of the time zone differences). This is a model that certainly worked for me and something I would try with any new onboardees that I may mentor.


Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed my first 4 months as a DevOps Engineer at Bazaarvoice particularly working on new technologies and collaborating with my team mates. But what has shocked me most is how much I had to improve on my communication and ways of working, something that is not taught much in the world of engineering with most the emphasis being on technical skills.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this and that you can take something away from your own ways of working!