I work for a large multi-national on one of the largest projects ever undertaken. I am definitely not a software developer and I am sure most would laugh at my code. I have very limited experience setting up a LAMP server years ago and have played with the old "Delphi 6" RAD but I have installed Visual Studio community and have been trying to learn a bit of XAML/C#.

That's in my own time though, as a hobby. Back in reality I spend most of my time outside operating a processing plant in the field.

However, I have a couple of ideas for software which I think management would absolutely love to have. One idea is fairly easy to implement but would save 100's of man hours a day/week. I started putting something together and in a couple of weeks I have made a lot of progress and I think in maybe another month or two if I can dedicate the time to it I'll have what I want, and hopefully what management want.

If I can do that, it will advance my career dramatically. It will ensure the financial security of my family and that is the most important thing to me. I could increase my value to the point where I could grantee my job until retirement not because of the software that would inevitably become outdated, but because of my optimization skills, and resourcefulness.

So, with that in mind. How would someone from the floor sell their idea, while protecting what they are working on?

How do you set up a license and what should it include?

What other things would you need to do?

  • 2
    This is a tricky question, and most likely requires knowledge of your countries copyright and intellectual property laws. First thing is to find out that the company you work for doesn't own any intellectual property that you've created relating to their internal working practices. That's mainly to cover your own back. As to licence costs well really you're asking the wrong people, it's entirely opinion based as licencing costs are often set by the person, or company that is licencing the software, depends entirely on what you think it's worth.
    – JoeTomks
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 16:00
  • Check your contract. You may find a clause in there that anything you produce while employed belongs to your employer. In which case, you need a lawyer.
    – PeteCon
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 4:20
  • Thanks Digitalsa1nt, I didn't think about "internal working practices". But I can be careful that I don't develop it using any specific systems of practice. My program will cover a generic thing performed at all facilities of this type, and many industries so I can make it more generic and still have the impact I am looking for. Maybe if it is accepted and used I could branch out on my own but I think thats getting a little ahead of myself.
    – RedChair
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 23:44
  • Thanks also PeteCon. I think you are also correct that there can be an overlap, however I think it is unrealistic to expect them to own EVERY industry idea you have. I will still tread lightly with that.
    – RedChair
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 23:44

1 Answer 1


Work on it on your own time, but let the company own it. When it's close enough to ready that it can be shown being useful, have a short 1:1 with your boss about it and show how useful it is and downplay how much time you spent working on it. Let him spread it around, but be sure it's crippled in some way that only you can fix. Not like you sabotaged but it's clear there is some more work to do on it. Put your name in it, if there is a GUI put your name and email address in the "about" menu with a beta version number.

Risk 1: They take it and you get no credit. Risk 2: They destroy it and you get in trouble for "wasting time". Mitigation 1: Your name is on it and they need you to work on it. Mitigation 2: You downplayed how much of your work time it took. You completed it without sacrificing any of your normal work duties, make sure they know that.

  • Thanks for the comment! I actually have worked completely in my own time on this, and have been very cautious not to use company time. I am pretty sure if I develop anything in the company time they have rights to it. My work place locks down their computers very tightly and there is no way I could develop it in their time anyway as I couldn't install the compiler. That's a terrific idea about putting my name in the about, and since I am developing it myself I can probably put "copyright redchair" in there somewhere as well. I'll definitely do that!
    – RedChair
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 23:35

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