[clug] Open Source Project Management

Ben Nizette bn at niasdigital.com
Thu Aug 6 22:03:34 MDT 2009

On Fri, 2009-08-07 at 12:40 +1000, Ian McLeod wrote:

> That sounds more like a change and cultural change than a technological 
> change issue.  Does it add significant value to your business?

True, but my other experience in open source business software, openERP,
has such a nice intuitive GUI that doing operations through it is easier
than doing them any other way, even for complete newbies.  It's
certainly a cultural change, but dotproject still makes that change
harder (or at least slower) than it possibly could be.

Its use, once it is used, certainly adds value to the business.  As
mentioned previously, I can't quantify that value against other
solutions having never used anything else.

>   I'm very 
> interested in this for very small, and very large programmes of work

> Any standard issues / risks / strategies to watch out for?  I'm also 
> interested in how to apply industry standard PM practices to an open 
> source project - document structures, reporting, registers, etc.

Our document management is done in Confluence, an enterprise Wiki, using
the dotproject URL fields to cross-reference.  This fragmentation hasn't
become an issue yet but I wouldn't expect it to scale very well.

We're small enough that the dotproject reporting features are pretty
minimal but have been sufficient for us.

> My theory is that open source still consumes a scarce resource - being a 
> volunteer developer - so should still report to the 'shareholders' being 
> the OS community on how that resource is providing a return to the OS 
> community - no different to standard PM practices - with some sort of 
> business case, outcomes / outputs, requirements, scope management, etc.

Quite right

> > If you've got a server with a fantastico front end then setting up
> > dotproject is as easy as ticking the box.  I have an off-site web
> > hosting account with fantastico so I did that to demo the system then
> > once I decided to go with it, deployed it on our internal server.
> > Nothing really tripped me up there.
> >
> >   
> Is this expensive?  I am happy to learn how to run a server from home 
> with a dynamic IP for now - although I really would like to know how to 
> hook one up to work even if running from my desk on an old PC (anyone?) 
> - the Windows centric IT guy may not freak out too much if he feel 
> comfortable this won't be dumped on him to support unless the trial 
> proves successful.

If all you need is hosting for fantastico-supported apps you can get web
space from, eg godaddy for a pittance.  If you need more than ftp
access, eg to install your own apps, then it gets more expensive, ~

Google is your friend regarding turning your old PC in to a useful
server.  If you're new to the field then you might find putting openSUSE
on that machine a good place to start - it's YaST interface makes
setting up the basic list of servers as easy as ticking a box.  Even the
more advanced functions still have a GUI interface which I don't think
these days is too much to ask (*shields self from CLI-supremacy rants*).

> > We use openERP for all our inventory, production, sales, CRM, invoicing,
> > POs etc etc.  It can do accounting too but it isn't on the list of
> > ATO-approved software so we still do our accounting externally.  I can't
> > recommend openERP enough, it works really very well.  OK so there are
> > some rough edges around AU localisation but hey, it's open source so I
> > should probably pull my finger out and fix them myself eh?
> >   
> Possibly, although if it's not a core competency of your business then 
> this is a business expense to invest this time in doing that.  This is 
> the problem I see with open source - at least with commercial software 
> you have one organisation to point at to say 'fix it' but open source 
> relies on the charity of volunteers.  Either way, it sounds like it's 
> not an issue, and complex tax legislation (especially at the rate Labor 
> will run amok with it) may be best left to dedicated paid personnel to 
> keep up with it (dedicated accounting software) it's not something you 
> want to risk getting wrong.

Trufax.  At the moment though all I really want is AUD and GST headings
on the top of some of my internal reports, rather than the bizarre and
sometimes confusing USD/VAT combination which is there at the moment.  I
certainly wouldn't try and bring it up to ATO compliance.

> Open ERP sounds very interesting, I would like to see it in operation.

http://www.openerp.com/ hosts demo installs along with fairly complete
docco - surprisingly complete for an open source app.  Though that is
explained somewhat by the existence of a commercial entity behind
openERP which can supply things like commercial support services.


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