Overcoming barriers for successfully building an open source community : a case study of Open e-PRIOR, an e-procurement software project at the European Commission
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In 2009, the European Commission (EC) released an e-Procurement platform named e-PRIOR (electronic PRocurement Invoicing and Ordering). To support the objectives defined in 2010 e-Government action plan, an open source-version of e-PRIOR, called Open e-PRIOR, was also made available. Open e-PRIOR is a key enabler for secure e-Delivery in the e-Procurement domain, and the project aims to foster adoption of e-Procurement at European level. However, Open e-PRIOR is currently managed by the EC, not taking advantage of its open source nature. Besides, the EC also realized that the Open e-PRIOR project is of value both across sectors and across borders. Therefore, to improve the communication between users and developers, take advantage of the full potential of the software, and better allow sharing of experiences and collaboration, Open e-PRIOR is trying to build a healthy community around the project. Through this study, barriers of successfully building an open source community are explored through a case study of the Open e-PRIOR project. This was done by analysing the Open e-PRIOR project through document analysis and interviews with the project stakeholders. To find possible measures to overcome the barriers, information on best practices was collected and a panel of experienced open source experts was interviewed. The identified barriers needing addressing were then discussed in detail against possible measures to be taken to overcome them. The findings indicate among other things that the Open e-PRIOR project needs to make their processes transparent to enable the community to participate in the development. The project also needs a better way of collaborating on software development with the external community while lowering the technical barriers of entry. Through applying the proposed measures to their F/OSS strategy, the Open e-PRIOR project and the EC will be better equipped to succeed in building a sustainable community to collaborate on developing the software further, finding bugs and new features, discuss architecture and security and improving documentation. Ultimately leading to a better solution for the benefit of all the stakeholders and meeting the goals of the EC of share and re-use of F/OSS.
Masteroppgave i informasjonssystemer- Universitetet i Agder, 2012