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.

Transparency

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.

Conclusion

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.

Why monitoring is hard

(and why your vendor will only sell you tools, not solutions)

Internet wiring

Intro

Monitoring infrastructure in a meaningful way is important to any IT operations, yet it is hard to realize. Many vendors adress this problem and promise a silver bullet.

Continue reading “Why monitoring is hard”

Complex Processes

Observation

Organizations have to become more mature in their processes while they grow. While this is true for all types of organizations, my perspective is an IT and IT related one alone, also being part of other organizations. With complex technologies coming into every aspect of business, individual solutions are being provided by increasingly specialized vendors. With this, the number of service providers, managing products and – more importantly – solutions, the number of involved parties rises, which in turn increases complexity.

Problem

Now that setup of multiple parties involved requires organization to make it work properly. Processes need to be introduced, to track progress, make sure the right parties get the right information at the right time, and progress and outcome are trackable and manageable.

All of the requirements are clear to justify a strict process. Provided they are viewed from the right angle. Participants in the process, staff executing individual steps, have difficulties seeing the purpose.

Improvement

A transparent process is easier to follow for individual contributors. Management needs to feed back outcome of work, results to their staff. When everybody understand what he is doing, less steps will be done wrong. Eventually it will even take out complexity out of some processes, because transparency can help avoid the need for exceptions to be built in.

Please share your thoughts!