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Work Type Analysis

One of the challenges of operating a capability at stage 3 of the inner source pyramid is how to manage and prioritise “unpopular” work when that responsibility is distributed across multiple teams. The best course of action is heavily dependent on the context of the capability and teams involved so this page is best used as supporting material for a discussion workshop within your own capability group:

Work Types

There is usually a need to plan and execute 3 types of work for any product:

  1. BAU (Business-as-usual): a series of small but essential tasks for a variety of purposes.
  2. Project: a set of tasks that collectively require significant effort but when done together achieve a specific valuable outcome.
  3. Operational: size, effort and divisional impact varies, but operational work is characterised by speed and singular focus that may require temporary suspension of normal working rules and practices.

In an inner source model these should be considered in the context of:

  1. Divisional: work that is a top priority for an single division.
  2. Unpopular but Critical: work that divisions will collectively agree is essential, but they would prefer for someone else to do.
  3. Quality of Life: work that is required for the long-term sustainability of the capability but is too easily delayed for shorter-term wins.

Leading to:

Type Divisional Unpopular but Critical Quality of Life
BAU Each division has a series of minor tasks that ideally can be ignored by other divisions. A series of minor tasks that are time critical but of equal value to all divisions. A series of minor tasks that are not time critical but required for long-term sustainability.
Project Division-led project with optimised timeline, high internal visibility and full divisional backing. Cost or risk reduction based projects that are collectively required but will not be prioritised by any single division. Technical improvement projects required for the products longer-term sustainability.
Operational Emergency changes made at pace under incident conditions by on-call teams. Agreed periods of minimised or no change to proactively reduce risk. Mandated period of exclusive focus on operational improvement that results from high profile operational or security failures.

Exercise 1

Your Model for Each Work Type

Each capability defines it’s own inner source engagement and SDLC model based on it’s unique circumstances. This section contains a series of questions about each work type to validate and explore your model, with suggestions of common solutions.

Divisional BAU

Each division has a series of minor tasks that can usually be ignored by other divisions.

Suggestions:

Unpopular but Critical BAU

A series of minor tasks that are time critical but of equal value to all divisions. e.g. code dependency updates under a security policy SLA.

Suggestions:

Quality of Life BAU

A series of minor tasks that are not time critical but required for long-term sustainability. e.g. code or test refactoring, CI improvements, minor technology usage changes.

Suggestions:

Divisional Project

Division-led project with optimised timeline, high internal visibility and full divisional backing.

Suggestions:

Unpopular but Critical Project

Cost or risk reduction based projects that are collectively required but will not be prioritised by any single division.

Suggestions:

Still To-Do!

If you are running a workshop with this context, you’ll need to invent your own questions for now to cover:

… and any additional work types you added yourself.

Exercise 2

By answering the questions included under each work-type, you will have described your inner source contributing model. If you can capture this in a written CONTRIBUTING.md file in your capability and share it with your users it will help them know how they should contribute.

Strategic Consensus
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