The majority of companies using open source understand its business value, but they may lack the tools to strategically implement an open source program and reap the full rewards. According to a recent survey from The New Stack, “the top three benefits of open source programs are 1) increased awareness of open source, 2) more speed and agility in the development cycle, and 3) better license compliance.”
Running an open source program office involves creating a strategy to help you define and implement your approach as well as measure your progress. The Open Source Guides to the Enterprise, developed by The Linux Foundation in partnership with the TODO Group, offer open source expertise based on years of experience and practice.
The most recent guide, Setting an Open Source Strategy, details the essential steps in creating a strategy and setting you on the path to success. According to the guide, “your open source strategy connects the plans for managing, participating in, and creating open source software with the business objectives that the plans serve. This can open up many opportunities and catalyze innovation.” The guide covers the following topics:
- Why create a strategy?
- Your strategy document
- Approaches to strategy
- Key considerations
- Other components
- Determine ROI
- Where to invest
The critical first step here is creating and documenting your open source strategy, which will “help you maximize the benefits your organization gets from open source.” At the same time, your detailed strategy can help you avoid difficulties that may arise from mistakes such as choosing the wrong license or improperly maintaining code. According to the guide, this document can also:
- Get leaders excited and involved
- Help obtain buy-in within the company
- Facilitate decision-making in diffuse, multi-departmental organizations
- Help build a healthy community
- Explain your company’s approach to open source and support of its use
- Clarify where your company invests in community-driven, external R&D and where your company will focus on its value added differentiation
“At Salesforce, we have internal documents that we circulate to our engineering team, providing strategic guidance and encouragement around open source. These encourage the creation and use of open source, letting them know in no uncertain terms that the strategic leaders at the company are fully behind it. Additionally, if there are certain kinds of licenses we don’t want engineers using, or other open source guidelines for them, our internal documents need to be explicit,” said Ian Varley, Software Architect at Salesforce and contributor to the guide.
Open source programs help promote an enterprise culture that can make companies more productive, and, according to the guide, a strong strategy document can “help your team understand the business objectives behind your open source program, ensure better decision-making, and minimize risks.”
Learn how to align your goals for managing and creating open source software with your organization’s business objectives using the tips and proven practices in the new guide to Setting an Open Source Strategy. And, check out all 12 Open Source Guides for the Enterprise for more information on achieving success with open source.
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