Is it time for an OSPO in your organization?

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Is your organization consuming open source software, or is it starting to contribute to open source projects? If so, perhaps it’s time for you to start an OSPO: an open source program office.

At the LF, we’re dedicating resources to improving your understanding of all things open source, such as our Guide to Enterprise Open Source and the Evolution of the Open Source Program Office, published the last year. 

In a new Linux Foundation Research report, A Deep Dive into Open Source Program Offices, published in partnership with the TODO Group, authored by Dr. Ibrahim Haddad, Ph.D, showcases the many forms of OSPOs, their maturity models, responsibilities, and challenges they face in open source enterprise adoption, and also their staffing requirements are discussed in detail. 

“The past two decades have accelerated open source software adoption and increased involvement in contributing to existing projects and creating new projects. Software is where a lot of value lies and the vast majority of software developed is open source software providing access to billions of dollars worth of external R&D. If your organization relies on open source software for products or services and does not have a formalized OSPO yet ​​to manage all aspects of working with open source, please consider this report a call to establish your OPSO and drive for leadership in the open source areas that are critical to your products and services.”

Dr. Ibrahim Haddad, Ph.D., Executive Director, LF AI & Data Foundation

Here are some of the report’s important lessons:

An OSPO can help you manage and track your company’s use of open source software and assist you when interacting with other stakeholders. It can also serve as a clearinghouse for information about open source software and its usage throughout your organization.

Your OSPO is the central nervous system for an organization’s open source strategy and provides governance, oversight, and support for all things related to open source.

OSPOs create and maintain an inventory of your open source software (OSS) assets and track and manage any associated risks. The OSPO also guides how to best use open source software within the organization and can help coordinate external contributions to open source projects.

To be effective, the OSPO needs to have a deep understanding of the business and the technical aspects of open source software. It also needs to work with all levels of the organization, from executives to engineers.

An OSPO is designed to:

Be the center of competency for an organization’s open source operations and structure,Place a strategy and set of policies on top of an organization’s open source efforts.

This can include creating policies for code use, distribution, selection, auditing, and other areas; training developers; ensuring legal compliance, and promoting and building community engagement to benefit the organization strategically.

An organization’s OSPO can take many different forms, but typically it is a centralized team that reports to the company’s executive level. The size of the team will depend on the size and needs of the organization, and how it is adopted also will undergo different stages of maturity.

When starting, an OSPO might just be a single individual or a very small team. As the organization’s use of open source software grows, the OSPO can expand to include more people with different specialties. For example, there might be separate teams for compliance, legal, and community engagement.

This won’t be the last we have to say about the OSPO in 2022. There are further insights in development, including a qualitative study on the OSPO’s business value across different sectors, and the TODO group’s publication of the 2022 OSPO Survey results will take place during OSPOCon in just a few weeks. 

There is no board template to build an OSPO. Its creation and growth can vary depending on the organization’s size, culture, industry, or even its milestones.

That’s why I keep seeing more and more open source leaders finding critical value in building connections with other professionals in the industry. OSPOCon is an excellent networking and learning space where those working (or willing to work) in open source program offices that rely on open source technologies come together to learn and share best practices, experiences, and tools to overcome challenges they face.

Ana Jiménez, OSPO Program Manager at TODO Group

Join us there and be sure to read the report today to gain key insights into forming and running an OSPO in your organization. 

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