Your OSPO is probably the center of gravity for your organization’s open source efforts, and your policies and processes can help your employees contribute to open source projects or hinder them in ways that you might not expect. Creating OSPO policies and procedures is a balancing act. On one hand, you need some controls in place to make sure that you protect your company and avoid lawsuits, but you also need to make it easy enough that you encourage employees to contribute new features, bug fixes and patches upstream. Rather than being the Office of No, your OSPO can be a resource for your employees to get help and guidance for their open source efforts.
Part of the role of the OSPO can be to help balance the needs of the company, the community and the individual through education and best practices. Your organization needs to understand that they can’t just push features into open source projects unless it’s also something that benefits the community and the project as a whole. When companies try this, it puts your individual employees into a no-win situation that can impact employee satisfaction and retention. In this no-win situation, the employee can’t meet the needs of the community without jeopardizing their employment, and you don’t want to put people in this situation. By making sure that managers and leaders understand this dynamic, your OSPO can help make sure that your individual contributors are doing work that meets your organization’s objectives while also being good corporate citizens within the community.
The work that we all do within open source communities is in the public and highly visible. Other contributors and the press will talk about your behavior and participation, which can reflect positively or negatively on your organization’s brand, and your OSPO can provide resources to help your employees contribute. By being a good corporate citizen within open source projects, you can help make sure that your participation has a positive impact on your company’s brand.
Want to learn more practical tips and ways to use your OSPO to improve the open source experience for your employees? Attend by visiting Room 301/302 or tune in virtually to my talk “Does Your OSPO Help or Hinder Contributions?” at the Open Source Summit NA in Austin on Tuesday, June 21 at 2:05pm CDT.
We hope to see you there!