Forrester: Hire software developers who take part in open source projects

Forrester: Hire software developers who take part in open source projects

Make software your business, not just a support function

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Analyst firm Forrester has encouraged businesses to recruit software developers who take part in open source projects, as it shows they are keeping their skills current.

“When looking at your talent, ask software developers if they work with open source. Even if it is outside their work, they’re probably keeping their skills set up,” said Kyle McNabb, VP and practice leader of application development and delivery at Forrester, at a recent Forrester event.

His advice was part of an overall call to businesses in all industries to make software development a core competency of the business, rather than just a commodity or a support function.

“What’s the iPhone without iOS? What’s Facebook without software?” he pointed out.

The main challenge for businesses is that software development has been extensively outsourced over the last 10 years. This has led to a skills shortage.

“We’ve outsourced a lot of the talent. You need people internally. You’ve got to build the skills on your own,” said McNabb.

In particular is a shortfall in business analytics and solution architect talent, which is needed to develop tools and processes to extract insight from Big Data.

“Big Data is extremely immature. You can’t bring in [open source, Big Data analytics platform] Hadoop and expect it to give results. You need software and engineering development help,” he said.

McNabb said that companies are starting to bring software development skills back in house, starting with mobile applications.

However, organisations are only in the very early stages of this process, he said, with consumer-facing (B2C) businesses in the media, financial services and retail sectors most likely to be doing this.

To attract the right talent, companies need to make software developers feel that they are more than just coders in a back room.

“Software developers are looking for an open environment, and for an organisation that does not look at software as code, but as a means of creating experiences. [That is] treating software as part of the business,” said McNabb.

“And they’re going to have to pay for it [the skills],” he added, noting that there is a particular salary premium in the US with the likes of Google as a competitor employer.



  • Anna Harris We can hire software developers for open source project and see how much talent in developers and flexible in our project then we hire developers Its a different thing to software development
  • Neil B There is a skills shortage in the UK and at some point there will be a skill apocalypse Its VERY hard to recruit great coders However care should be taking recruiting open-source contributors for a few reasons- Whilst participation in open software shows enthusiasm its by no means an indicator of quality of output nor an indicator of understanding of the process of making products Having to test stuff and actually ship it can come as a massive surprise and leave even a half-decent coder out of their depth- some engineers code on open source projects because frankly theyre poor coders and cant get employment as such Open source projects need volunteers like water usually and are non-too fussy- Some engineers work on big open source projects which are well organised and ship products These scare me most of all as theyre the least connected with reality and the least flexible They will expect you to mould your business around them and their needs will be constantly demanding and usually have so many software religions that theyll colour your whole previously-open-minded workforce with tabs-vs-spaces and editor argumentsIn summary a developer working on open source software tells you one thing- that they can motivate themselves Thats literally all Expecting any more is dangerous It certainly does not show that theyre keeping their skills currentNeil
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