Implementation and Management Approach
As was noted in the EU-funded â€œPublic Sector And Open Source Softwareâ€ report:
â€œPloneGov is a new model of programming and maintenance capacities for public sector OSS activities.â€Â Â www.publicsectoross.info
The same study also describes PloneGov as the 4th model of programming and maintenance capacities for public sector open source activities in Europe. As a consequence, PloneGov project management is particular in many ways.
While in its beginning PloneGov was managed by a very small number of deciders, two years of significant growth in the number and in the diversity of its stakeholders and its subcommunities required to differentiate the management strategies.
Today PloneGov is reaching hundreds of public organizations and aims to reach many more. Thus, the project management is structured to support the project goals and to foster collaboration between a large number of stakeholders. The process for joining PloneGov is described on plonegov.org home page, see link â€œJoin Usâ€ www.plonegov.org/support
The PloneGov ecosystem is based on a successful collaboration between Public Organisations, Non Profits and Businesses. The following paragraphs describe the organization structure, with a focus on the management of the technical projects and the international activities.
Public Sector: the process for Public organizations wishing to join PloneGov is described on the site. The only formal requirement is a written statement from the Public organization that they share the PloneGov vision and are open to collaboration:
- Stand-alone Public organizations may list their project among PloneGov references. It is a first step to raise their visibility and attract similar organizations to form a SubCommunity. http://www.plonegov.org/references
- Structured projects regrouping several Public organizations may join as SubCommunity (project). SubCommunities are independent projects or organizations having their own resources (name, budget, team, developers, code, projects, references in the Public Sector). These projects are usually taking place under the leadership of Public organizations. They focus their activities on technical management, development, regional promotion and services. http://www.plonegov.org/subcommunities
By being listed on the PloneGov site, SubCommunties benefit from a higher visibility and the networking effect with other SubCommunities leaders. Most contacts take place directly between leaders members and are based on mutual interests (no guarantee of success). For example, some active SubCommunities are located in Ireland, Italy, Belgium-France, Switzerland, USA and South America.
Non-Profits: most Public organization having a local, regional or national focus, the participation of international non-profits bring in the necessary expertise to manage and foster cross border activities and/or interactions with SME and the open source community.
International activities of collective interests are managed by non-profits as Zea Partners (operations) or the Plone Software Foundation (IP protection). These activities include operations and management, technical coordination, dissemination, communication, events, collaboration with other projects,â€¦ Both organizations maintain a close interaction with Public Sector representatives and SubCommunities leaders to ensure that the project operations meet the particular requirements of the Public Sector across Europe.
All the applications developed within the PloneGov project are based on a common technology, Plone. This tool, open source and available in 40 languages, is internationally recognised for its stability and ease of use. It is also supported by hundreds of SMEs in Europe and the world. Plone is a content management system (CMS) which allows people with limited technical knowledge to provide with web-based content; a tool interfaced, itself, over the web, enabling users, for instance, to update the content of a website or intranet. Zope, the application server within which Plone runs, is also open source and includes basic modules such as access management and security, as well as a workflow system and a web server.
Open source and open standards are underlying conditions explaining PloneGov success and attractiveness.
Zope â€“ a Web Application Server
In the most abstract Zope is a development framework that can be used to build applications. The framework helps make developers productive. It does so by making it easier to develop, deploy, scale, extend and customize applications as it provides common programming services and patterns. Zope is a web framework: it is focused on the development of web applications (and web sites) that display their user interface and content in the user's web browser (such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari). Zope consists of a number of programming components that help the web developer with user interface construction, data storage, user management, security, customization, extension, deployment and many other aspects of web development.
Zope is written in the Python programming language. The Python programming language is a dynamic, interpreted language with a reputation for ease of use while retaining development power. It was created in the early 1990s and has been growing in popularity since then. Zope's popularity attracted many new developers to the Python language, and Zope has benefited much from developments in the wider Python community as well.
An open source community of developers and users quickly formed around Zope. This community has been active for a decade now, and has a very strong representation in Europe. While the community matured, its role changed. It is now a dynamic, international ecosystem of many SMEs and individuals that develop and build upon the platform. Many of the strongest drivers of Zope's evolution are based in Europe.
Plone â€“ a Content Management System (CMS)
Plone is software that helps users build and manage website content. Such a software product is generically known as a "content management systems" (CMS). Plone is used by thousands of organizations and individuals around the world, including large enterprises, SMEs, governments, NGOs, educational institutions and more. Plone makes it easy for people with little knowledge of the technical aspects of website development to build and maintain powerful interactive websites that let them communicate, collaborate and build community. It is ideal for working groups or community-building efforts, as well as integrating portal services. Plone is internationalized to 40 languages, and complies with major accessibility standards such as WCAG.
The Plone project was started in and has grown into a worldwide open source community consisting of:
- Over 200 contributors who have developed the core codebase.
- Hundreds more developers of add-on products that extend Plone's core functionality.
- Over 1000 SMEs that offer consulting, training and hosting services around Plone.
- Tens of thousands of live websites and their millions of users.
- Dozens of local user groups around the world.
Ohloh is a web site that tracks statistics and activity on most major open source projects around the world. It places Plone in the top 2% of all open source software products for community size and activity. Plone has been an open source project active for a relatively long time as well, showing that the project knows how to continue to innovate and attract new users.
- Plone: all the applications developed within the framework of the project are based on a common technology, Plone. This tool, 100% open source, is available in 40 languages, and is internationally recognised for its stability and ease of use.
- Collaboration: With the support of SMEâ€™s, administrations develop applications that they make available to their peers, others help to identify problems and find solutions to them, and others still participate in editing and documenting, and in testing. Everyone contributes according to the means that they have available. All assistance is welcome, and everybody benefits. With PloneGov the development of software that corresponds to a specific need is never undertaken repeatedly, thus eliminating unnecessary expense. The public administrations become more efficient, while also reducing costs.
- Accessibility: PloneGov respects standards in terms of accessibility (WAI) with the objective of aiding navigation on the Internet by persons with visual and motor deficiencies.
- Effectiveness: By developing management applications specifically adapted to the needs of public authorities, PloneGov enables their effect to be considerably improved, their repetitive tasks to be automated, and public funds to be saved.
- Economy of knowledge: By offering the many companies and associations located within the territories of the associations taking part the possibility of having their own website, the public authorities are directly combating the gap between those who do and donâ€™t have access to the Internet, encouraging promotion and activity within local economic and association life and participating in the training of the population.
- Making the most of skills: PloneGov enables full benefit to be made of the skills and human resources which public authorities and local businesses have at their disposal. It breaks down technological dependency and gives everyone their own autonomy.