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Open Source Consultants Unite

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Open Source Consultants UNITE Edit

Open Source Consultants Working Group

Participants:

Guy Martin, Red Hat (Leader)

Jacob Reading, Drupal

Rich Sands, Black Duck

Jared Smith, Blue Host

Shawn Briscoe, Black Duck

Patrick Cozzi, AGI

Simon Phipps, OSI

Donnie Berkholtz, Red Monk

Dave Neary, Red Hat

Shawn Briscoe, Black Duck

Ideas paraphrased from note-taker, not actual quotes.

JR: Drupal has customers who want us to answer the question, "How do I engage with Open Source Software?"

GM: This is part of the problem we are trying to solve. The goal here is to create a community of Open Source Consultants answering this and similar questions. We will contribute content to the community consisting of common, foundational, non-differentiating IP such as OSS 101 Training, Maturity Assessments, Legal References.

RS: Having spent time as a consultant, I understand the goal and desire, but what's in it for the consultants. The basic blocking & tackling is bread and butter to many.

GM: Customers find value in customization, deliveries and integration work specific to the client. If we come together we can spend less time on the pre-work and education. If potential customers find the community they will realize they need our help when they see the gap between where they are and where they should be. They could try to implement changes themselves with the content they find, however, they most likely will still require consultants if they run into trouble.

RS: The blocking and tackling work allows consultants 2 great things: 1) to build the initial relationship, and 2) to learn more about the client. Are we sure losing this is a good thing? How many hours of engagement will be lost?

JS: I see a need for the community. Blue Host wants to create OSS 101 training videos and we need a place to host them, and we want clients to be able to find them. The community could help us accomplish that.

PC: This is simply an open source business model. Wouldn't participation and visibility just create more momentum and thus more work for everyone?

SP: I want OSI to host a community like this that allows me a place to find business and to ask questions of my peers. OSI could do quality control or certification for Open Source Consultants. I'm afraid a wiki community will reduce my oppty for easy money.

SB: The question here is one of content. Is the content differentiating or not. We can all agree that things like OSS project maturity metrics and legal references are non-differentiating, I think. This is the kind of content that we can all contribute and benefit from. If we deem maturity assessments or training or such as differentiating, then we won't include it. Let's focus on material which we all agree is non-differentiating.

GM: Yes, the original intent is that content shared here would be no value-add to the customer without consultant customizations.

RS: Another thing to consider is that alot of knowledge consultants bring to the table is non-differentiating when it starts out. The consultant massages it to be meaningful to the client.

DB: I'm interested in contract templates being shared, and other business operational type documents, but I want them to be vetted of course.

GM: That is the type of foundational content - templates - that we had in mind. Stuff just for consultants to share.

SP: When this stuff is posted online, it is of value to me because it is attached to my brand. Clients find it and call me because they want me to explain or interpret it to them. I don't want to contribute my content to white label.

RS: We seem to be running into the Big Company vs. Sole Proprietor point of view. What isnt alot of $ and is tedious to the big company is often very important to the little guy.

PC: Wouldnt a wiki credit consultants for their contributions and thus increase visibility?

RS: NAPO, National organization for professional organizers allows you to go online and find an organizer for hire. It seems that this community could allow clients to find consultants in the same way.

DN: We must keep in mind that the community needs to be more than just a yellow pages - it should foster valuable participation which allows everyone to be better at their jobs.

SP: I want a peer group to interact with. Suggest a mailing list. Hopefully a closed community with some Cat and Mouse confidentiality - can talk about content without revealing the source. It should be ok to be stupid and ask questions. One should join through personal recommendation rather than being public. This would create trust attributes making it ok to join in. We want to avoid even the appearance of commoditizing our business.

DN: Has the conversation changed with clients, though? Is the old conversation less important as it matures?

SP: Often no. I think we should target those who should be members of the community rather than the content.

DN: FOSS Alliance - a co-op of consultants created to help refer business and join forces on bids. It never worked.

RS: This community CAN work in the right environment.

SP: There are examples of sales & marketing orgs in the UK who have no delivery arm/capability acting almost like a co-op.

JR: s/o must own and license the content

DN: Igalia is an example of a copmany with open source training modules in which content is licensed freely.

SP: OSS communities start with a seed - someone must seed them - there must already exist something there than benefits me in order to engage.

DB: There is content I will contribute but I would like attribution/accreditation.

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