4 Types of Engineering Managers and How it Affects the Way They handle Open Source

So, you’re a manager with a team of software developers? Well, then this post is about YOU. Every manager has his or her signature style. You too have one. Which category do you fit in?

The Creative

You love to explore new ways of doing things. You don’t tend to settle for what’s presently available if you believe that a better solution can be possible or is in the making. You’re always open to exploring new avenues and creating innovations powered by the latest cutting edge technologies. You actively seek feedback and make your call (mainly) based on your own conviction and all that you’ve learnt from others.

You love interacting with your teammates and enjoy seeing them grow into their roles.

How you manage open source

You understand open source benefits and harness its power. You know it brings down production costs and result in speedy deliveries. You trust your developers to do what’s right when it comes to open source usage. And that’s great. That being said, you have to be more than “careful” to use open source. You have to be cautious.

Can you really expect your developers to fully understand the legal clauses that come with most open source software licenses? Besides, since you care about your team and want to boost their productivity, should you not look for a solution that automates the process of tracking and managing open source components?

The organized

Well, if you find yourself saying this a lot, you’re an organized manager.

You love to define detailed roles and responsibilities of your teammates and hold them accountable when there’s a miss. You like to supervise, work closely and stay actively involved in decision-making to eliminate debate. You work hard to establish processes, and you appreciate it if they’re all adhered to.

Your superiors know you’ve got everything under control. Your team functions without any confusion as every member has his/her responsibilities clearly edged out. You distribute the workload responsibly and make sure that your team members understand the priority of the tasks. You also ensure that deadlines are met and project timelines are adhered to.

However, your top-notch managerial practices often leave you little room for innovation and creativity (as setting up processes and delegating tasks takes up a significant amount of your time). Often, you only focus on the things at hand and overlook the bigger picture.

You believe in staying prepared, and you hate surprises.

How you manage open source

Since you believe in having a process for everything, you’ve designed one for documenting and tracking open source libraries and their licenses. But manual documentation and tracking are not easy, and although your team tries to follow the process you’ve set, it demands a lot of resources. If they try to do it correctly, they end up spending a lot of time on a process that could have been automated.

In addition, isn’t there a risk that some critical security and quality aspect could get overlooked (like missing to detect known security vulnerabilities existing in your software or failing to know when new and safe updates are available of any of the components used in your software).

Will you not be thrilled to get accurate and comprehensive reports updated to the last time the build process ran?

The ostrich

Well, if you say this a lot, you show the traits of an ostrich-style manager, and you never have problems. I’m not saying that you don’t really have problems. I’m just saying that you don’t like to acknowledge them. You’re easy in your way of looking at and handling issues. You avoid acknowledging them for as long as you can. That being said, you can be a great manager for people who know how to exercise self-control as you empower them and give them space.

You hire smart and self-motivated people who’re capable of working without micro-management. However, due to your hands off approach towards management, your team members might be poorly disciplined.

How you manage open source

You understand that open source components come with licenses that can cause legal hassles when violated. You also know that tracking open source usage manually is not an easy task, but as your top priorities remain to meet your project’s deadline while staying within the allotted budget, open source management often gets pushed down in your priority list. Besides, as you practice casual managerial practices, your team is mostly struggling to cope up with their current workload. This results in you never having any spare bandwidth to invest in open source management.

You know that your managers could ask for a full open source inventory report if a prospect makes a request or if they believe there’s an M&A on the horizon, but the ostrich-style manager that you are, you just don’t acknowledge it. It’s easier that way, right?

Are you sure that you’ll be able to create quick, accurate, and manual reports when you’ll be asked to deliver?

The Coach

You see yourself more as a coach than a manager. This means you believe your main responsibility as a manager is to provide your team guidance and the means to do their job.

You strive to build commitment and consensus among your team members. You involve everyone in the decision-making process. You motivate and incentivize them to go above and beyond.

You want your team to learn while they work even if that means learning from mistakes. However, you’re always accessible. You step in only when you’re convinced that it’s the right thing to do.

You’re open about your objectives and hand out assignments to the most suitable resources. You believe in working after creating outlines to reduce/avoid rework. But in times of crisis you are lacking the more directive, task-oriented style required.

How you manage open source

You know the advantages that open source offers in terms of learning and growing, and since you’re an evangelist of both, you believe in open source as a way of life. As a contributor, you understand the importance of licenses and updating the community on security vulnerabilities and bugs detected during implementation and usage. You make sure that your team to understands and follows the same protocol.

You might already be using WhiteSource as you know that open source management automation lets you leverage the goodness of open source without having to worry about licenses policies and legal risks.

A word about open source management

No matter what your management style is, you should consider providing your developers with an environment where they can build freely on open source. Let your team maximize open source benefits, while a solution like WhiteSource works in the background and takes care of tracking and managing open source components, reporting their vulnerabilities, checking for updates and more.

If you are looking for an automatic solution to manage your open source usage, try WhiteSource today. You can subscribe to our free trial.