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Linux 2008
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Friday 7th - Sunday 9th November

Linux 2008

Call For Papers

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John I Davies - iT4C

Continuity in development using external developers

iT4Communities (iT4C) is a programme of the Information Technologists Company - a City of London Livery Company. iT4C introduces skilled, professional volunteers to voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) looking for help with IT projects. iT4C uses a specialised CRM-like application to bring together IT professionals volunteering their services; VCOs looking for help and iT4C staff supporting and monitoring the process.

As volumes increased it became clear that improvements were required to the application. Aims included reducing administrative overheads, encouraging VCOs to request volunteer assistance and improving communication between volunteers and VCOs. A multi-stage project was instigated to develop the application from a small Microsoft-based application to a sophisticated system using open source based solutions.

This case study addresses the problems of managing multiple successive developer companies where the customer has limited experience with technology. We share our lessons including avoiding supplier lock-in, IPR limitations of developer contracts, division of project management responsibility, criteria for selecting developers (attitude & flexibility versus apparent competence and track record) and flexibility of requirements using clear change request mechanisms. We also comment on version management and on the pros and cons of remote working.

The presentation should be of interest to open source professionals and developer companies as a perspective on the customer experience and needs. We hope it will contribute to the further development of open source solutions in addressing bespoke requirements for small and medium sized customers.

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