The untapped potential of InnerSource

The untapped potential of InnerSource

Jul 14, 2021·

4 min read

Discoverability and Collaboration Problem

Every Large business shares in a common struggle — their teams and goals are as diverse as numerous. Developers tend to be siloed into disconnected teams that have their own structures and leadership, leaving plenty of room for minimal and ineffective communication. As a result, this presents two major challenges for a large organization: discoverability and collaboration.

The discovery problem typically occurs when an engineer creates reusable software. They share that project with their limited network of colleagues. Only a few employees will learn about this new software created next door.

Additionally, when an engineer can’t find a project within their own company that fits their preferences or requirements, they’ll start exploring collaboration opportunities outside their organization, rather than tapping into a project that could benefit their teams.

The collaboration problem is translated by an abundance of information that often funnels up into a managerial bottleneck, so it’s unsurprising that a number of projects are overlooked. As projects get more complex or more teams get involved, more tasks will likely go unnoticed.

Even if a project is not overlooked by engineering teams, it can be hard to get access for some employees. If every contributor must ask permission to get involved, it leads to teams building their own unique codebase or application to solve a problem, thus keeping the wheel of reinvention active.

However, Innersource can significantly improve discoverability and collaboration in large organizations by helping teams align to the same workflow model successfully in open source projects.

What’s InnerSource?

InnerSource brings the power of Open Source to your private organization for more productive and collaborative software development.

Internally open up code and development across teams.

  • Accept more contributions and encourage community-driven collaboration
  • Avoid duplication of efforts.
  • Accelerate innovation and knowledge for your organization.

Seeing your team shift its efforts towards InnerSource is exciting. You’ll see how software can be created better and how individual contributors become available to make significant changes outside of their silo.

Open source systems enable participation and contributions at a large scale. The lines of communication are direct and visible to everyone. Discoverability and collaboration can improve and reach every interested engineer of an organization.

Leveraging Organizations’ Collective Brain

Making code discoverable for other teams isn’t necessarily an obvious practice. However, the best practice for software development is for the creators to share reusable projects with other teams to maximize their visibility and access.

InnerSource projects increase the discovery of solutions and help reduce the duplication of effort, among other benefits. By encouraging engineers to participate and provide value to the work that matters most to them, InnerSource is improving collaboration and team productivity. . When you develop an InnerSource mindset in your organization, you’ll see the following improvements:

Diversity of ideas

InnerSource makes every project transparent. This gives teams the ability to search and determine whether a pre-existing solution was already developed by their peers. Contributors have full visibility on every project and can decide to either get involved or simply use the technology.

More visibility allows knowledge and code reuse. If a problem is already solved, it must be shared so everyone can get their brains around other pressing issues. Empowering engineers from across the company to solve problems in areas they might not be directly assigned to will spread expertise and ideas more easily.

Limited time waste

The philosophy behind InnerSource allows guest contributions from other teams and departments leading to more efficient efforts and time spent. By allowing more collaboration across areas of expertise, talent can be better allocated within one organization.

Saving time and talent can also immediately turn into more capacity. Teams can do the most valuable work for their business and forget about minimal concerns that can easily be taken away by other colleagues or previous solution experiments.

Internal mobility

Increased discoverability and collaboration will enhance internal mobility of talent. InnerSource will increase your team’s motivation by showcasing interesting/challenging projects other teams are working on. Silos are broken down, and internal opportunities arise. When your developers’ happiness and motivation improve, this will lead to better retainment and more productivity.

Open source has changed the way software is developed for all. The best practices that have made open source projects so successful are becoming a norm for companies building software. Today, InnerSource is no longer a theoretical idea from books, it’s guiding people on how to create proprietary software across industries, teams, and time zones.