Accenture Unlocks the Power of Collaboration

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May 15, 2013

Accenture Software engaged Red Hat® Consulting to assess its current use of open source technologies. Accenture Software scored extremely high, and—as a result of the Red Hat engagement—has plans to enhance its strong showing by establishing a central open source architecture council.

Customer: Accenture Software

"Red Hat was extraordinarily helpful in recommending ways we could improve visibility into open source projects for senior management, nurture the use of open source technologies, & ensure our teams are better able to collaborate by utilizing open source best practices." Marcelo Tourné, Accenture

Geography: International (Global Customers)
Business Challenge:

The goal was to recommend ways for Accenture Software to best manage its open source portfolio, accelerate collaboration across engineering teams, and promote sharing of intellectual property (IP).

Benefits:

Accenture Software scored extremely high on the Red Hat Open Source Maturity Assessment, and—as a result of the Red Hat engagement—has plans to enhance its strong showing by establishing a central open source architecture council, and by automating and streamlining the legal approval process, among other open source best practices.

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Background:

About Accenture and Accenture Software

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company, with 257,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US $27.9 billion for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2012.

Accenture Software combines deep technology acumen with industry knowledge to develop differentiated software products. It offers innovative software-based solutions to enable organizations to meet their business goals and achieve high performance. Learn more.

Business Challenge:

Fostering innovation in open source

Accenture Software is a dedicated business of Accenture plc, developing innovative industry-focused software-based solutions that helps clients achieve high performance in their industries. Both Accenture as a whole, and Accenture Software in particular, have long-standing partnerships with Red Hat. For more than a decade, Accenture and Red Hat have teamed up to help governments and businesses harness open source solutions for complex enterprise-scale projects. Together, Accenture and Red Hat foster continuous innovation using open source by collaborating to incorporate leading technology into solution stacks and industry solutions.

"Since the inception of Accenture Software, we’ve leveraged open source technologies in our products to accelerate development and leverage the wide community of resources available,” said Marcelo Tourné, an Accenture managing director working for the Accenture Software technology office, and deputy to Accenture Software’s technology lead. “And many times, our developers have used one or more Red Hat solutions in particular to develop our applications."

So it was a natural fit for Accenture Software to partner with Red Hat when it wanted to push its use of open source to the next level. Since Accenture Software’s focus is on industry-specific solutions, it already had an "open source first' policy for certain technology components in its product development process, which focused on highly-reusable, industry-agnostic platform choices. That means that when a technology or module was available through open source, Accenture Software developers would start with those open source components. Developers would focus on the harmonious integration of those components and build on them the layers of industry-specific functionality that added the most value for clients. This was done rather than developing custom modules from scratch. Because of this practice, Accenture Software was able to leverage open source to its best advantage—both from technology and process perspectives.

Accenture Software chose five of its software products to undergo review by Red Hat Consulting as part of the Pathway to Open Source Enablement engagement: the Accenture Video Solution; the Accenture Public Service Platform; the Accenture Freight and Logistics Software; the Accenture Life Insurance Platform; and the Accenture Multi­-hannel Banking Platform.

Accenture Software had multiple goals in working with Red Hat Consulting on these project reviews. First, it wanted to assess the maturity of each product team in managing open source within their engineering practices and identify opportunities for improvement. Second, Accenture Software hoped to identify processes and tools to better manage a growing and varied set of open source components–each with its independent roadmap and timeline in the market—being incorporated into its solutions. The goal was to make reviews less manual and more automated. Finally, Accenture Software wanted to identify opportunities for rationalization of external open source assets and increased commonality and reuse of internal assets—called “inner sourcing”–across multiple Accenture Software products.

"We wanted Red Hat, as the open source experts, to look at our open source usage and processes, and make recommendations for what we could do to optimize and achieve commonality across the products we were developing,” said Tourné. “We already had an 'open source first' policy for industry-agnostic technology components, but since our software development centers are distributed around the world, we wanted to ensure their open source efforts were as efficient and reusable as possible."

Solution:

Moving down the pathway: Consume, collaborate, and create

Red Hat Consulting used its Pathway to Open Source Enablement consulting methodology to review the five Accenture Software offerings. The Pathway has three main components: consume, collaborate, and create. For Accenture Software, Red Hat Consulting focused primarily on the consume and collaborate components, which respectively ensure that organizations have effective policies and strategies for using open source technologies and utilizing best practices for collaborating across projects.

"We wanted to see the big picture of what we had, consolidate what we could, and put some open source processes in place to improve our cohesiveness as a company," said Tourné.

Since the five software teams were located in multiple locations, the assessment was completed via teleconference and video conference interviews. Additional information was gathered through online surveys.

"Using the Pathway to Open Source Enablement consulting engagement with Red Hat, we surveyed each of the five software teams," said Tourné. "In part, we were interested in reassessing what open source components already existed in our technology landscape. We also went through all the organizational concerns associated with open source, which  included licensing, the sharing of open source contributions with the respective communities, the legal implications of large open source implementations, and related issues."

The additional goal was to arrive at a set of consistent, supported open source components that could be used by all the Accenture Software teams.

"This will help strengthen expertise among Accenture Software resources and provide a knowledge pool that can be internally leveraged as needed," said Tourné.

Benefits:

Accenture Software's new challenge: Improving on excellence

As part of the Red Hat Consulting Pathways methodology, Red Hat consultants performed an open source maturity assessment, which scores an organization on its overall awareness and ability to effectively utilize open source technologies.

Accenture Software achieved "excellent levels" of open source usage by the five teams surveyed. Interviews with the project teams, as well as Accenture Software's legal team, also revealed a very mature process for the use of open source within the organization.

How to improve on that excellence became the challenge for the Accenture Software teams.

One of the Red Hat Consulting recommendations was for Accenture Software to establish an open source community council, which would be a gathering place for open source subject matter experts.

"By implementing a centralized open source council that includes architects from each of the teams, we can get to a common list of open source technologies that are recommended for use across the company," said Tourné. "From a technology perspective, there's obviously a productivity gain from being able to see what other teams have done, and being able to share both knowledge and components with them."

One of the challenges of implementing such a council, over and above day-to-day responsibilities, is how to obtain and encourage ongoing participation. Since a key component of every Accenture Software employee's annual or biannual performance review is assessing how much of a "value creator" that employee has been for the company at large, this open source council would give individual employees the opportunity to excel at that aspect of their job descriptions.

Red Hat Consulting also recommended that Accenture Software establish a central technology catalog to curate the recommendations of the open source architecture council. This would start small with common components, utilizing common collaboration environments—such as wikis, email, or an internal "forge"—and would provide a central repository for open source information and assets. Additionally, Accenture Software will be exploring how it can extend the use of open source methodologies to its internal software developers to make them more easily available to other Accenture and Accenture Software teams. In particular, Accenture Software is focusing on building "inner-source" style communities of expertise within the company. These will help the teams share internal IP for functions that are common across different industry applications.

Tourné expects to see significant business advantages from these efforts. "By streamlining the auditing and approval process, we minimize the need for corrections while in mid-project," he says. In addition, collaboration among teams and sharing of code bases will speed time to market of new releases of Accenture Software's products. "Most of our competitors put out two main releases per year, and anything that allows us to improve on that gives us a competitive edge," said Tourné.

Accenture Software is already moving to take these open source-based industry applications into the cloud, and is currently in the process of launching a proof of concept using Red Hat OpenShift Enterprise with this goal in mind.

"Red Hat was extraordinarily helpful in recommending ways we could improve visibility into open source projects for senior management, nurture the use of open source technologies, and ensure our teams are better able to collaborate by utilizing open source best practices,” said Tourné.

"We are now very focused on ways to foster creativity with open source throughout Accenture as a whole."

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