InnerSource program – Defining workflows & Measuring program success

Defining workflows

For projects that encourage external contributions, be sure to specify what workflow the project follows. The workflow should include details about where and how branches should be used for bugs and features, how pull requests should be opened, and any other details people outside the repository team should know before they push code. If you don’t yet have a workflow in mind, you should consider the GitHub flow .

You should communicate a strategy for managing releases and deployments. These parts of the workflow will impact day-to-day branching and merging, so it’s important to communicate them to contributors. Learn more about how they relate to your Git branching strategy .

Measuring program success

Any team venturing into InnerSource should think about the kinds of metrics they want to track to gauge the success of their program. While traditional metrics like “time to market” and “bugs reported” are still applicable, they aren’t necessarily going to illustrate the benefits achieved through InnerSource.

Instead, consider adding metrics that show how external participation has improved project quality. Is the repository receiving pull requests from external sources that fix bugs and add website hosts features? Are there active participants in discussions around the project and its future? Is the program inspiring an InnerSource expansion that drives benefits elsewhere in the organization?

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In short, metrics are hard, especially when it comes to measuring the value and impact of individual and team contributions. If misused, metrics can harm the culture, existing processes, and diminish the collective sentiment towards the organization or leadership team. When thinking about measuring InnerSource adoption, consider the following:

  • Measure process, not output
    • Code review turnaround time
    • Pull request size
    • Work in progress
    • Time to open
  • Measure against targets and not absolutes
  • Measure teams and not individuals
    • Number of unique contributors to a project
    • Number of projects reusing code
    • Number of cross-team @mentions

Learn about the successes others have enjoyed in these InnerSource case studies .

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