One of the criteria that funders consider when assessing project bids is the project’s approach to sustainability. In particular, they will assess the project’s ability to continue after the funded period without relying on continuation funding. Different funders and calls will have different criteria for assessing sustainability plans but requirements commonly include plans for reuse of previous software outputs and/or the provision for reuse of new outputs via collaboration with other community members and projects. This document describes how OSS Watch can help you plan for sustainability in your project bid. It takes you through the support available from OSS Watch and highlights the key areas you need to consider before making an informed decision. The first four sections discuss the main concepts, identify the resources available, and describe the activities you need to undertake. This is followed by a checklist aimed to be used as you work on your project bid.
Contact OSS Watch
The first step in initiating OSS Watch support for your project is to email us. Use this as an opportunity to introduce yourself, your team and partners and your proposal. Providing an early draft of your proposal as soon as one is available will allow us to begin to understand your project and so provide the best possible advice. One of our team members will then work with you, as described in Advice for project bids. If required, a face-to-face consultation can be arranged so that we can discuss and advise in more detail. Details of all the ways in which you can contact or interact with OSS Watch and the wider community can be found on the contact information page.
We have a wide range of excellent resources, including those on open development. We will, where appropriate, refer you directly to those that are most relevant to you. However, we do encourage you to browse at your leisure.
Become familiar with open development
The open development method is one proven way of achieving sustainability through collaboration across project boundaries. OSS Watch will guide you through the process of deciding if the open development approach is appropriate for your project. We can do this while you are preparing your proposal, by helping you fully understand open development and its potential for your project. If you decide to follow open development, we can help you to make sure your proposal reflects this decision by adjusting the section on sustainability and possibly some of the resource allocation details. In addition, we will provide support after a successful bid, as the project work progresses.
In order to make an informed decision as to whether to follow open development or not, you need to understand the principles and how they apply in successful projects. OSS Watch provides many resources that introduce these concepts by answering common questions, providing in-depth guides and presenting case studies and interviews. These can be found on the website (quality controlled) and the team blog (opinion pieces). We also provide RSS feeds and a Twitter channel to notify you of new articles, news and events.
In addition to gaining a good grasp of the principles of open development, you need to be familiar with the following key topics:
- sustainability and exploitation
- governance models
- copyright, IP and open source licences
- contributor licence agreements
- community development and essential online tools
- build and release processes
Once you have a basic familiarity with open development, you will be in a position to compare it with a closed development approach. You will also be able to see how to apply it to your individual project, and gauge the costs and benefits that may be involved. Only when you understand these factors will you be able to reach a useful decision as to whether to follow the open development method. In addition, you will need to be clear on what you must do in order to fully embrace it.
OSS Watch is here to help you develop your understanding of the benefits of open development and what you will need to do. Once we have your draft proposal, we can work with you on this. Our aim is to enable you to make a clear decision on which way to proceed, having fully understood all the possible effects of following the open development method.
Understand sustainability models and document your decisions in the proposal
One of the most important issues to consider is the long-term sustainability of your project. This requires a clear understanding of the models of sustainability that apply to your project. Understanding sustainability options will also inform your decision as to whether open development is right for the project. OSS Watch will provide feedback on your initial thoughts and make appropriate suggestions.
In order to become sustainable projects need to build healthy and active project communities. Even niche projects can benefit from community development work, as shown in our TexGen case study. It is therefore important that you demonstrate to the proposal reviewers that you considered how you would approach community development. You will also need to provide realistic plans for the project’s future. These plans need to show what value your project will create and how that value can continue to be developed and contributed to by community partners, now and in the future.
Achieving all this is not something that can be done by simply following a rule book. By drawing on the experience that the OSS Watch team has to offer, you will be ensuring that you have the best possible chance of achieving sustainability.
We can help you write the relevant section of the bid that explains the sustainability options you are considering for your project. This will confirm that you have considered the options carefully by consulting OSS Watch.
Demonstrate clear plans to adopt open development
By working with OSS Watch, you will be able to make an informed decision whether to follow an open development model and will have made suitable provision for the long-term sustainability of your project. We can also provide additional consultancy services and adapt our templates and guidance materials to suit your specific needs.
Furthermore, if you are committed to open development, we can provide you with ongoing support as development work proceeds. Should you wish to include OSS Watch in such an ongoing commitment we are happy to consider being written into your proposal formally. This will ensure we have the resources available to work on your project and help making your project a successful open development project. OSS Watch can help you work out the appropriate resources to allocate to us for the services you require.
You can demonstrate that your decision is an informed one by showing in your proposal that you have fully considered all of the topics listed in section 2. You should also have selected initial implementations of each of these. Be reassured that this does not require a lot of upfront effort since we are able to provide templates for many of these requirements. For example we, provide templates for governance models.
The following checklist is provided to guide you through the process described above and to help ensure that you have covered each step. It will be useful while working through your bid and engaging with us to explore the suitability of open development for your project. The items in section 6.2 are important steps for maximising the possibility of becoming a sustainable open development project.
Actions for all projects
Emailed to introduce the project to OSS Watch.
Provided the draft proposal to OSS Watch.
Grasped the basics of open development through exploring OSS Watch Resources. In particular: governance models, copyright, IP and open source licences, contributor licence agreements, community development and essential online development tools.
Investigated the cost/benefit implications of open development and relationship to sustainability models.
Explored business models that can work with open development of your project.
Obtained and addressed OSS Watch advice and support in the proposal.
Made a decision as to whether to follow open development within the project.
Actions for projects that choose to follow open development
If you have decided to follow open development, then the next group of actions are relevant. They should be considered before submitting your bid and then implemented once work commences on the project. If, however, you decided open development is not the right choice at this time, you may still want to look through these items.
Documented realistic plans for future sustainability.
Selected potential collaborations with other projects or partners and described dependencies.
Decided on a governance model.
Decided on licensing.
Prepared appropriate Contributor Licence Agreements (CLAs).
Specified a build-and-test process with a regular release regime.
Related information from OSS Watch: