Corporate Open Source

One concept that is under active discussion for the past decade or so but constantly being misunderstood. Open Source is often taken as a label for software downloaded from the internet, packages free of charge, components under a particular license filed under “Creative”. Often enough it’s misused for lower quality software, which reality has proven wrong by 2017, not to mention the issue with intellectual property.

However, there are many much more aspects to the concept, that add substantial value to any software centrist product organisation. And in times of digitalisation and digital transformation, software will move into the value chain of many organisation that don’t anticipate it yet. Whenever a customer offering is complex and / or service based, transparency and documentation are often key to a satisfactory result and efficient processes.

Open source may not be the one single bullet for any organization, but the concept will help becoming more transparent and efficient.

Single Source of Truth

While SharePoint is a powerful tool with many opportunities to improve processes, many organisations use it to maintain a file server. Which has information about any other effort, therefore creating a large spread between the tangible product and the then theoretical documentation. Not to mention the version horror everybody experienced at least once, trying to ask a few people for the latest version.

Reversing this process through Wiki or even Version Control Repositories allows to keep only one version, that is automatically the latest. Software will take care of all versioning, that would go in filenames_v01_final.docx otherwise.


Adding together the product with documentation allows quick reference, pointing back and forth between customer facing and engineering. While this may sound terrible technical, the nasty guts of any product can still be ignored by those who don’t need to see it. However, for those requiring insight, they don’t have to go through a process to see it. Or even have to talk to a colleague first and ask. Oh, and the colleague will be on vacation anyway.

Opening the product internals will remove any barrier to productive work and allow employees for quick insight. Obviously, some may argue an open repository may lead to uncontrollable product results, but that’s actually a different point. Write access or merge credentials are not required for anybody without responsibility.

Applicable Metrics

To shape it all up, the management world has plenty of nice metrics that can be applied to measure the whole thing. Not all of them express quality by themselves, but applied consciously these can carry a product far.

Documentation Coverage is something that will serve as a great basis for the point I’m trying to make here. With closed projects, or engineering only code, it’s often difficult to understand whether a product, feature or bug is actually just badly documented or the colleague just doesn’t want to help.

With a metric to measure percentage of a product being documented, at a minimum the amount of available documentation can be measured. And with the product internals being transparent, any reader can – at least theoretically – see whether the documentation correctly corresponds.


While being a strong supporter of open source software in general, I’m not trying to make a point for open sourcing anything outside an organisation. However, transparency will help any organisation improve the offering and processes. And the concept of open source will help achieve this transparency. It has a hurdle to overcome, in particular management will have to overcome their fear of software and technology to adopt this concept, but the step is worth taking on the way to digital transformation.

eMail. Still.

Year 2015. Still eMail is the predominant means of communication. Everybody hates it, most companies make an effort to ban it. Atos wanted to go email free, Telekom shuts off their servers, Daimler even deletes email for people on vacation. Even I receive emails, saying “I need this, but I cannot answer”, quoting the “email free day policy”. Despite all effort, nobody succeeds.

Why? Unclear. While I think email should be banned myself, I have difficulties offering a better option. But I develop a feeling for why this is happening. This morning somebody mentioned he’ll be posting into a channel. That company claims to simplify communication, make teamwork less painful and busy, all searchable. As if nobody else tried that. And even if does a good job in what they aim for, they are just another solution.

In my personal, active use are, Pocket, Salesforce chatter. While my company introduces a community, colleagues swear on private Facebook groups or WhatsApp for simplified communication. Not to mention the tools customers and businesspartners are using. Popular among these are Jive, Atlassian Jira, SAP Jam, but not limited, I’ve seen self hosted communities, bug trackers and ticketing tools.

It’s difficult to keep track of all these tools. But they all send notifications through email.

Which tool do you use to communicate?