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Summary of the first ERPNext Foundation members call


#1

Present: Chris Ian Fiel, Chude Osiegbu, Giovanni, Gunnar Wagner, Herabelle Villanueva, Jay Ram, John Vincent Fiel, Makis Etzoglou, Nabin Hait, Pawan Mehta, Revant Nandgaonkar, Rushabh Mehta, Stravros Anastasiadis + members from Frappe Team

Introduction

It was a great initial discussion with all members bringing in their perspective and expectations from the foundation. The discussion began by Jay asking me as the CEO of Frappé of what do we expect from the foundation. Like I have said before, this is a concept successfully implemented by popular community driven initiatives like Linux, Mozilla, Wordpress, Wikimedia and we are not looking to re-invent the wheel. In the coming years we see the ERPNext foundation to play the same enabling role as these foundations. The first year will be a transition year as we transition some of the assets and events run by Frappé to the foundation.

The discussion was then centred around various themes.

Protecting Open Source

With Odoo and many other Open Source ERPs going closed/commercial, many members felt that the role of the foundation should be in ensuring that ERPNext always remains true to its open source roots. One way to protect this would be that the foundation will take leadership in driving contributions but it was not clear how. In many ways the success of the foundation will ensure this goal happens.

Promoting ERPNext

Many members suggested that the foundation should take leadership in marketing and promoting ERPNext. Some suggestions were:

  1. Having a budget for doing ads on Google, Social Media etc.
  2. Doing free seminars in various parts of the world
  3. Doing developer workshops
  4. Doing offline meetings with industry associations locally by each member to promote ERPNext

ERPNext Roadmap

The foundation should also facilitate the standardization of the ERP and define a roadmap for the product. To make this happen it was suggested that various sub-groups should be formed on the lines of Odoo Community Association (OCA) for various functions like Accounting, Manufacturing and verticals like Retail etc. Maybe a mailing list can be formed for each sub-group and specific events held to enable discussions on these topics

Events

Most of the members felt that the foundation should take a lead in doing events like developer trainings, seminars, conferences and code sprints. Events foster community building, exchange of ideas and opportunities and also lead to formation of deep ties between members.

One of the key suggestions was organising Code Sprints. These code sprints can be around features like Accounting or Manufacturing and many open source projects use Code Sprints to drive development of the project. These code sprints can be complemented by functional discussions of various sub groups, for example having an accounting themed code sprint and functional group meeting at the same time.

Memberships and Member Benefits

It was discussed that members should enjoy special benefits as it will drive memberships and also ensure that memberships are renewed each year. Along with the priority listing on erpnext.org, it was discussed that in-app listing of members should also be enabled. There should also be buttons on the forum and inside the app to encourage users to become members.

Sponsoring Features

There was an interesting discussion whether the foundation should sponsor features or not. It was suggested that the foundation should only “enable” code but not directly participate in developing code. The reason is that if there is a contribution that is “paid” by the foundation and another one which is “not paid” then there is a reverse incentive to not contribute unless there is a payment involved.

It was also noted that Wikipedia contributors don’t get paid for their contributions. So at this point the consensus was that the foundation will not actually pay for features, but rather organise code-sprints. If there are somethings that are important to a group of users, then they can organise their own bounty and get it done.

In Conclusion

It was an amazing discussion and as you can read, there were lots of topics covered. It was heartening to see the participation and maturity of all the participating members and it is clearly a strong beginning to a long and successful association of members.


Members please free to update if I have missed anything.

Not a member yet? Become one today! https://erpnext.org/members


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#2

#3

Some very sensible thoughts and discussions had. I used to use Odoo and there had always been a slightly fractious relationship between Odoo Sa and the community and foundation and suspicion I’m some camps. I very much sense a very different atmosphere around ERPNext and the community. Frappe have been immensely supportive and helpful to ERPNext and the community and now it’s time for the Community via the Foundation to take things further.

I very much look forward to ERPNexts future.


#4

Hi Guys,
Great to see the Foundation in action. There is only one concern that I would like to raise from what I read above.
One of the great things about erpnext was there was no cap to start off with. In theory now there isn’t any cap. But practically what looks to me is the existence of a virtual cap. The non members are loosing out on opportunity, diminishing one of the greatest qualities of this software.
If there was a foundation 5 years back ( when i started working on the project) I dont think enough opportunity would have trickled down from Gold through Silver through Individual membership for me to be able to afford a membership and get listed one day. Most likely one of the Gold / Silver Members would have hired me. Which is what would happen now ( my opinion ) to the many people who are trying to learn and get active on this project.
Today I am in a better position thanks to the openness in terms of opportunity that comes from just being skilled in the software. And I can pick an Individual membership
I have no issue in membership fee, Money is a resource too, but maybe contributions / activity of individuals should be added too in the listing so it stays more fair and the users looking for services can make informed decision.
Now the problem that appears in my perspective is that people can buy into the opportunity with maybe no real contribution . Users seeking services would be mislead into thinking that Gold Member have the greatest skill set and might be the largest contributor followed by silver and so on.
This shouldn’t be the case is what I firmly believe


#5

I think there is no problem with the foundation membership. If you are active in the forums and GitHub source contribution you can easily get clients there. To be honest being a silver member has still no value to us. We joined as a member because we want to help the project grow. We get clients mostly by being active in the forum and contribute back to the source and not merely by being listed on the foundation’s website.

I can assure you if you keep helping people in the forums and keep contributing to the source of the project you will be able to get clients and have great exposure :slight_smile:

It’s the same analogy with google ads. If you have good content and people are sharing and clicking your site, you will be on top of the search of your keyword. Thats called organic. You do not need to pay google for being on top of the search result. But there is also an option that google offers that you can pay to be on the first page and mark it as ads.

Cheers,
Chris


#6

@ccfiel I didnt indicate any issue with foundation membership. And organic growth for an individual or company is what I support too! and thats how it has been so far. your active on the forum / git people find you. I know very well cause thats how bulk of my clients find me.
But with introduction of this levels of membership it beats this way is what my concern is. if i go open up erpnext.org listing I see Gold,Silver, Individual members and their contact details. I suggest a guideline or something that will mandate adding your git / forum id / ids( in case of company or group of individuals working together)
This helps users looking for service to be more informed.


#7

@vivek that’s I good idea the fields are there git id/ forum id but it was not display in the site. Please submit a PR the source can be found here. https://github.com/erpnext/foundation that would be a good contribution :slight_smile:


#8

Also, I think there is a section for app contributions. see https://frappe.io/apps. Which you can be listed also :slight_smile:


#9

i will do so.


#10

I think @vivek’s statements can be broken down into 2 points

  1. How the foundation will deal with “bad stewards” - this means people/companies who pay for memberships but end up giving ERPNext a bad name due to failed implementations or other reasons. That will be something the foundation and its members will have to decide over time.
  2. Maybe also have a way to “earn” memberships through core commits, or maybe have a section for “acknowledgements” for major contributers. I don’t think that the cost of membership will hurt people because the cost of membership can be considered advertising - and people that earn a living off erpnext should be able to pay into the system in some way. However, I agree wholeheartedly about the concept of rewarding core commits in some way. If a company develops a major feature and sends a pull request into the product, is there any way the foundation can “reward” them, even if they don’t directly pay a membership fee? This can help encourage and reward good behavior.

#11

On an unrelated note, I believe the foundation would help ERPNext the most by promoting and improving developer resources. This means conducting developer workships, and also, more importantly, improving developer documentation. This will be an expensive undertaking as I believe it would be best to have professionals who actually understand and do documentation for a living come and make a roadmap and even implement proper documentation. Doing documentation well is a skill, and is hard.

The fees taken from workshops could help fund this initiative.

I believe this is important because as Steve Ballmer once (infamously) said, developers, developers developers developers.

Many, (90%+) will simply use the documentation and do their own thing. But the 10 or so percent will learn from the docs and then contribute back to the project. They’ll also start writing their own blogs, which will help other developers. they will also organically expand the reach of ERPNext on social media - developer word of mouth is key. Fueling developers will only help the product and project in the long run.


#13

The flip side to this is that some contributions get paid and some don’t. So this may create a perverse incentive for some developers to not contribute unless someone puts up a bounty. Just like you don’t get paid to contribute to Wikipedia, contributions should be voluntary.

What can happen overtime is that the foundation can hire engineers or give fellowships to some people who can spend majority of their time supporting the project unconstrained by client requirements. That is upto the foundation to decide.

This is something we need to address at some point. This to me is also a cultural issue for the community. Most developers are also “service providers” who again have the incentive “not” to contribute so that they can charge for their customization again and again. This goes against the open source spirit and in some ways should be relegated to lower position. The project’s primary needs should be that of the user and developer, the service provider must represent the either and not try and create a position for “middle men”. I am not sure how to fix this, but would love to fix this at some point.


#14

Well, revenue models are difficult.

  1. Sell Support with GPL code (ex: WooCommerce or Gravity Forms or WPML, etc, on Wordpress) - this is not encouraged or really supported with ERPNext
    2, Sell a SaaS service - this is the niche chosen by Frappe Technologies
  2. Sell Implementation/Consultation Services - this is the only way people can make money on ERPNext now
  3. Sell “packaging” - this is what Red Hat does. No one else really does it well. I believe a niche of providing technical support for on-premise erpnext deployments is something that someone could potentially turn into a profitable business. I think its commendable that Frappe Technologies provides quite a bit of free support on the forums in this area, but the question becomes sustainability.
  4. Sell Licenses - open source, but not free, or Open Core - I believe everyone is against this model (myself included)

Some general thoughts

  1. I believe the discouragement of apps leads to fewer developers being interested for a few reasons. Revenue model 1 is a key generator of income in other open source projects. Also, its quite a bit easier to tell a developer “build a plugin for Wordpress” rather then telling them “Become a Wordpress core committer” - I’ve read arguments for and against this for erpnext, and I don’t believe I will be able to change anyone’s mind on this if they are against apps, but I strongly believe encouraging apps will help turbocharge the erpnext ecosystem.
  2. Better developer resources will mean more developers join. Yes there is documentation right now, but for all practical purposes, the main documentation is “read the code”. The foundation can help in this area.
  3. The best way to get service providers to give back to the system they are making money from is to provide incentives. This could mean free advertising through monthly/quarterly features on the foundation website, memberships, developer resources, etc. This is where I believe the foundation can make a huge difference. Yes, wikipedia volunteers are not paid, but that is more analogous to people answering questions here on discuss rather than spending hundreds of skilled man hours on a great erpnext extension. In an ideal world, we would not need incentives, but we don’t live in an ideal world unfortunately.
  4. Google Summer of Code 2018 for ERPNext! Its too late for 2017, but the Foundation could participate in 2018.

#15

As I can personally attest, not all developers are created equal. Sure there’s a common set of problem solving skills but the opacity of those problems to the individual is what sets people part. As an inexperienced developer I have found that the single tutorial to be a great starting point but not quite enough to get to “intermediate” or “advanced” levels of customization or app creation. This is the opportunity that interest me most, personally and professionally. More, higher quality, open source apps (and use cases) will draw users, business decision makers and ad-hoc CTOs.

To that end I have several “educational” ideas that I’ll propose in another thread to not hijack this thread and link back.

Open Channel


#16

@felix you cant sell licenses for GPL code. There is nothing stopping you from offering a SaaS version of the software it is a great model. @rmehta there are many customization on github that we could start to pull back into the project. They will have to be evaluated but many i believe could help a lot and even if the developers them selves the code is open source so we could fork and pull back into the core code base.


#17

This is a real issue and an important one happening, e.g., in the OpenERP/Odoo community. I’ve even read, in Odoo’s forums, devs arguing that a difficult/unintuitive framework (that, of course, they do understand) is actually a critical part of their business model:

“why would you care about the framework being unintuitive? we’re the specialists, we know. And that’s what people pay us for”

Take that for open source spirit :no_mouth: