SEMAT Essence and open source ?

Over the last 3 years Red Hat Consulting has sporadically looked and implemented SEMAT Essence as a means of understanding and navigating the open source -based projects it’s working on. It is also a means to enable reuse of good ideas and techniques used by Red Hat Consulting on multiple projects.

Recently Red Hat have been working on SEMAT Exists,  to help their own understanding on how SEMAT Essence will work in a consulting environment, but to also to develop a mobile and web application to assist working on projects.

Whilst Agile is now widely adopted (not always perfectly) for software development projects, not all consulting projects actually develop software and it’s doesn’t provide a high-level view that’s needed at the early stages of the project.

Based on the the work to date, SEMAT Essence seems to fit well with open source projects and in particular the early phases, for a number of reasons:

  • SEMAT Essence provides some structure, but it isn’t too onerous and obtrusive. It doesn’t add work to requirements gathering or design stages
  • Whilst understanding how it works and how it is structured is like riding a bike (you’ll fall off a few times and then suddenly hey-presto, it all comes together), it is simple to get the basics across during initial meetings with other architects or consultants
  • Even with a disparate group of people involved in a project, you can quickly bring them together and get the basic state of the project across, based around the Alpha States
  • Defining commonly used approaches as ‘Practices’ can be a very effective way of getting people to reuse them. A lot of reuse in a consulting organisation like Red Hat’s are centred on product and technology, not the approach used.

The separate SEMAT Exists blog will focus on the some of the detail around SEMAT Essence and it’s application to consulting engagements, but will provide some links and further discussion as needed on the project and how it can be applied.


SEMAT Essence : the 7 Alphas, which are the things to work with in all projects


SEMAT Essence adoption hasn’t been quick and it isn’t complete, even with the Architects.  This focus on product and emerging technology is a factor and than in consulting terms engagements can be relatively short. However, where it has been used (probably on around 20 projects) it’s been well received and when understood has been adopted.

Further Reading:

SEMAT Exists blog, with links to the Github repo

Slides on SEMAT Essence, the problem and the proposed solution

SEMAT Exists : Red Hat Consultings application for SEMAT Essence (because Essence preceeds Existence)

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