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Product, Recruitment & Notoriety: Open Source as a virtuous circle in tech

by Théophile Reppelin ·


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Companies are becoming more and more creative when it comes to making work in their teams more attractive and retaining talents. The excesses of Silicon Valley where their employees have access to some of the most extravagant employee perks around have made it a cliché due to the tough competition for talent (complimentary catered meals, luxurious offices, flexibility and extended leave, laundry, entertainment, healthcare, allowance to customize their workspace, etc.). But these “perks” are not enough anymore and tech companies need to refocus on the essentials and build a serious mindset around tech and culture. Why is it mandatory for tech start-ups to add open source software (OSS) as a cornerstone of their culture - or to see it as a huge perk?

Open source improves software you rely on

Open source enables programmers around the world to connect and share ideas. This is an opportunity to widen the resource pool for solving problems. Anyone can work on resolving bugs in your program and commit to the project you are working on by initiating a pull request.

Pull requests let you tell others about changes you have made. Once a pull request is opened, people can discuss and review the potential changes with collaborators and add follow-up commits before these changes are taken into account.

It’s especially effective at resolving any issues that may be present in a program, making it available at its very best.

For the tech team, making the code accessible to the public is also a way to force them to be as clear and qualitative as possible. Let’s be clear, leave the business logic in-house: find how you could leverage open source communities to speed up and improve product development while maintaining a commercial edge. The code that does not depend on your business strength can remain inside the company so that it keeps its intellectual and competitive advantage. So if you wonder whether open source solutions are an asset for your software development, I guess you’ve found your answer. Moreover, open source fosters innovation and agility in the enterprise to drive its global transformation and technology processes.

Open source as leverage to enhance your tech team

Companies that build a culture of learning and focus on fostering employee skills see an abundance of benefits. From talent retention to better understanding their strengths and weaknesses, this is a proactive approach to business and talent management. The consensus of the best tech companies is to let their teams have dedicated time on their work schedule for personal projects. Lack of time, visibility, and prioritization are the three pains to work on: developers see companies allocating time to open source contributions during work hours as a potential solution to these pains.

Open source and the plethora of available resources are a way for tech workers to grow, learn, and develop their skills. Don’t underestimate the appetence of your employees for this: a Pluralsight study finds 48% of tech workers consider changing jobs due to a lack of upskilling resources. One solution to cultivate thriving tech talent is definitely to invest in developing their tech skills.

Keep in mind that it’s all connected: while open source is a way to build a community that encourages people to use, contribute to, and evangelize your project, to increase its transparency & reliability, to faster its time to market, to enhance its intellectual property, or to save costs, there are also many benefits for current and prospective employees:

  • Meet people with the same fields of interest: sharing discussions, developing projects, sharing ideas and points of view… All these things keep people coming back and bonding together.

  • Find mentors or be a mentee to others: open source communities are a great poll for interesting people, some that are experts in their fields and some who just want to improve or discover new projects. You’ll have to explain how you do things, as well as ask other people for help. Learning and teaching is a virtuous circle for everyone involved.

  • It helps them grow a reputation, a personal branding, and a career: open source work is public, which means you can share what you’ve done, what you did contribute on, and demonstrate what you can do. It uniquely helps developers build up their skills and networks outside of direct working environments and domains.

  • It offers employees more transferable skills: more growth opportunities because modern technology often runs on open-source software.

To attract top talent, companies have to do more than hire a recruiter or place an ad on a popular job site. All of these benefits keep employees satisfied and on a path to personal growth, which improves retention. Hence, to recruit and retain the best tech talents: open source software is essential for businesses.

Your open source program can become one of your most effective recruiting tools. By building an open source culture, contributing to open source communities, and/or creating open source projects, organizations can recruit developers and build internal talent.

The secret sauce: Open source as a way to show the world the power of your tech team

Open source is much more than that, it’s a mindset, not just leverage, which has a positive impact on your notoriety as a company. It shows maturity in terms of tech culture: collaborative & open-minded. Consequently, it enhances the brand of the company. It will help engineering leaders build stronger teams. You need that kind of asset to help create a positive social atmosphere for your team. People will talk about you and will inspire others to do the same, as a “common good” destination.

Transparency, rapid iteration, collaborative innovation: it soon became clear that open source was not just a viable option but a critical path to technology innovation. To start, you don’t need to have your own open source project, you don’t need to recruit a head of open source contributor (as did Cisco last year), and you don’t need to fund an open source project: it’s all about having this mindset to contribute in any form.

If you have this mindset: share it with your audience! Discover how Piga can help you do it.