In order to get critical mass for reusable assets, they have to be created and evolved in a collaborative manner across development teams. How can we enable co-creation? Several specific strategies can help:
- Share the source – ever wondered why open source projects succeed when in-house efforts haven’t? Sharing the source code behind reusable assets makes a world of difference. It increases transparency (with respect to capability, behavior, and quality) and provides an opportunity for the developer community to participate in the analysis, design, and implementation activities. More importantly, it enables teams to modify the source per their specific needs and allows them to submit/merge the changes with the main build.
- Provide detailed documentation for reusable assets that are both available, in-progress, and planned for the future. It can come very handy when there is a design decision to make in a project – time and time again, you will realize the greater the information on existing assets, the easier it becomes to enhance/change them and combine them in new and innovative ways.
- Explicitly seek participation and design input when creating/updating a reusable asset. This not only increases buy-in from the tech community but also provides new ideas, concepts, and problem solving techniques that the entire department (even an organization) can benefit from.
- Encourage questions, specially from new members and junior developers – welcome the most basic questions about the reusable asset inventory. Make sure an environment where open, honest exchange of ideas is taking place constantly. Good ideas come from several places and it is critical that developers don’t feel alienated or ignored due to lack of knowledge about one or more reusable assets.
- Seek out subject matter experts – several developers and business analysts are essential to increase domain relevance, and domain alignment for reusable assets. Pretending to have all the answers or feigning perfection will only reduce the quality of reusable assets and ultimately prove detrimental to reuse objectives.
Several systematic software reuse efforts fail to get off the ground – it isn’t because of inadequate domain variations or severely limiting technology constraints – due to lack of grassroots appeal among the technical community.
Co-creation addresses several issues at once: it exposes developers to high quality coding practices, increases awareness of available assets, and provides a controlled environment to experiment and evolve reusable assets.