Most software is built on open-source today, with 99% of enterprise codebases containing open-source code. In fact, the technology you are using to read this would have at least one open-source component. As more businesses begin digitising their products and services to innovate and create new value, developers and their skills will become increasingly important.

Software developers excel in not just pushing codes but in fostering innovation, security, and agility in a business. They play a bigger role in digitisation initiatives, with ‘coding and software development’ cited as one of the most important skills (22%) by employers in Singapore to assist with business digitisation plans.

However, business leaders must keep in mind that even employing the best developers in the world will not automatically improve the quality of their products and services. Instead, businesses need to invest resources in creating an environment that allows their developers to thrive.

For businesses to work with developers successfully, they need to understand their developers’ strengths as well as the culture and environment needed to harness their true power.

Developers thrive in a collaborative environment

The source of a developer’s superpowers lies in their ability to collaborate. To leverage the strength of their developers, businesses must break down the communication barriers that exist in the organisation, tear down silos, and introduce a culture that facilitates collaboration and teamwork.

Leveraging open-source innovation for a more sustainable and resilient business future

Business leaders can do so by embracing innersource and DevOps. Innersource and DevOps practices require a fundamental cultural shift to introduce a more collaborative and open approach to software development. This open collaboration fosters innovation and participation, as developers are encouraged to work as a single unit to discover, customise, and contribute projects on open source platforms, driving rapid development.

In addition, by embedding security at every step of the software development process, teams avoid common bottlenecks caused by lack of communication and reduce the vulnerabilities in the final product while accelerating velocity and increasing the quality of their products.

Innersourcing and DevOps can be applied across all industries. From businesses in software development to manufacturing and e-commerce, many have succeeded in adopting DevOps practices to enhance productivity. By following a developer-first approach focused on collaboration, businesses gain access to faster development lifecycles, well-tested software at scale, greater efficiency. However, companies often focus on buying innersourcing and DevOps tools and overlook the importance of the underlying culture.

One such example is Tokopedia. With the help of open source and DevOps practices, Tokopedia has successfully scaled to become a leading technology company that provides e-commerce solutions throughout Indonesia. Before that, the technology company worked with a traditional way of building applications. They had an internal team managing their codes on-premise. As its operations grew, it became a challenge for the team to deploy and release codes fast while maintaining their server at the same time. By adopting open source and a DevOps culture, which enables their developers to collaborate and work closely with other departments and the leadership team, Tokopedia now makes over 200 changes to their production code base every day.

Now more than ever, businesses must ensure that their developers are empowered to do their best work, wherever they are. Asynchronous communication has become an increasingly popular buzzword of late. However, not everyone truly understands what it means; it’s the ability for team members to work on a common project according to their own timetable. Asynchronous communication has become crucial to providing flexibility for developers who juggle healthcare, errands and childcare while working from home during the pandemic. Introducing a flexible culture using the very same best practices that emerged in the open-source community over the last 15 years is essential to improving developer satisfaction and productivity to add value to the business.

Culture starts at the top down

Beyond just understanding the value of developers, how should businesses go about recalibrating their approach to achieve the ‘right balance’ between business-led and developer-led decision making?

Cultural change starts at the top. Business leaders can begin the shift by listening to developers’ concerns, suggestions, and recommendations. Leaders should also understand that changes do not happen overnight; they must stay committed to change, set viable expectations, and lead by example.

Business leaders should invest the time to help developers understand business objectives and functions. A developer’s core role may be to build code, but the bigger picture is to create business value. Giving developers a seat in the boardroom creates tangible value for leaders, driving innovation, productivity, and creativity.

Leaders should also encourage transparency and communication. Sharing projects across the office as broadly as possible is a step in the right direction. Openly sharing work and feedback will bring more ideas to the table. Exceptions can be made for projects that require a higher level of security on a case-by-case basis. Leaders must ensure teams have the tools and processes to communicate openly and build consistently—and that those tools and processes are being used. If they are not, find out why and make adjustments.

It is clear software developers have become an essential part of modern teams. Developers aren’t just cogs in a piece of machinery but innovators who can add value to the business. They are, to cite O’Grady, the new king-makers. By developing a better understanding of the way they work and incorporating innersourcing and DevOps best practices as well as ensuring developers can focus on doing their best work with the appropriate tools and support, companies can bring out the best of their tech talents to achieve success.

This article was contributed by Pierluigi Cau, Director of Solutions Engineering APAC at GitHub.

About the author

Success starts with understanding your developers - Pierluigi Cau Github

Pierluigi Cau is Director of Solutions Engineering APAC, at GitHub, where he leads the solutions engineering teams across the region. Pierluigi is passionate about building products and fostering high performing, collaborative teams. Prior to joining GitHub, Pierluigi drove technology initiatives, leading several global developer teams at Scandinavian digital media holding, Schibsted Media Group. During his tenure, Pierluigi was instrumental in driving product development and deployment projects, and his experience also includes stints at Mesosphere and Negative Labs.

A strong advocate of DevSecOps adoption as a way to foster secure innovation, Pierluigi is also passionate about open source software and working with developers to drive team productivity. In his spare time, he enjoys travelling and he is a music lover, having founded Upitup Records in 2003, an independent electronic music label providing free electronic music.