Companies are constantly looking to evolve and adapt development methodologies to better suit the needs of the enterprise. But that is easier said than done.
Some organizations are turning to "innersource" to help enhance IT innovation companywide.
Innersource — the concept of sharing firewall-protected open source software internally — is helping IT teams within Wal-Mart move more quickly because they don’t have to start new IT projects from scratch, according to a recent CIO report.
It appears to be catching on in the enterprise, with companies such as Autodesk, Capital One, Paypal and Bloomberg all working to capitalize on the methodology.
Enabling internal collaboration
What exactly is innersource and what are its advantages?
"Innersource involves documenting and re-using code and practices and improving cross-team collaboration, which eventually leads to serendipitous innovations and to create a culture of continuous knowledge sharing and learning," said Darshan Appayanna, CIO of Happiest Minds Technologies.
In other words, innersource is a natural progression in enterprises that have started to leverage open source platforms and have seen the benefits of a community to help further innovate and replicate the same in-house.
"Innersource enables organizations to tap into their internal collective intelligence, bringing in diverse perspectives and creativity," said Appayanna. "In fact, it’s one of the fundamental ways to do effective knowledge management in software-development-centric organizations."
It’s also a way to improve developer collaboration within enterprise teams using the workflow models typically associated with open source projects.
"Companies like PayPal (a leader in innersourcing) are demonstrating how open source development practices work to make more efficient and profitable businesses, even if the 'open' in 'open source' really only extends as far as one organization’s team," said Sid Sijbrandij, CEO and co-founder at GitLab.
Innersource can also help with process efficiency, better gross margins, faster product development cycles and better engagement of the organizational talent that ultimately produces more secure and efficient product, according to Appayanna.
"The ability to be able to leverage and reuse intelligence is extremely valuable for an organization," said Appayanna.
As innersource begins to spread, some believe it will become a vital tool for the enterprise.
"This is how every nimble, fast-moving company develops software," said Brian Dainton, senior vice president of engineering at Spredfast. "If you don’t, then you will never keep up."
Innersource in action
Happiest Minds recently developed a Travel and Expense management platform in-house. The company then used an innersource approach to reuse and enhance the same platform to develop an "enterprise approval platform" on which their service desk, procurement desk, employee self service requests and many other employee-centric workflows are hosted today.
"This significantly reduced time to market for us to roll out new services," said Appayanna.
Even with all its benefits, there are naturally a few caveats that go along with innersource. First and foremost, companies must ensure a collaborative environment within the organization.
"For an effective innersource strategy, organizations need to put in place a culture of collaboration to ensure operations run smoothly," said Appayanna. "Without this, innersource will fail."