Project Manager at initOS.
Present yourself, tell us more about you!
My name is Karin and I recently finished my masters degree in computer science. Since I started my master studies I have worked with initOS where I started as a developer and became a project manager over time.
Because I started as a developer, I mainly got to know Odoo from the technical perspective in the beginning. The first Odoo project I managed had a lot of customized code, so that I only recently started to get to know Odoo’s standard functionality and modules. My current goal is to deepen my functional knowledge about Odoo and become a functional expert. Furthermore, I plan to become sort of a community manager in our company to coordinate and improve our contributions and engagement in the OCA.
How long have you been working with the OCA and what do you do here?
My first touching point with the OCA were the OCA Days in 2022 and the interviews I conducted for the master thesis. Before that I have worked with Odoo in my company, but never directly contributed or engaged with the OCA. However, I have contributed indirectly to the OCA with my work team by working on projects in which we push code to the OCA. As mentioned above, I want to increase my involvement with the OCA by becoming an OCA community manager in our company and in the future want to contribute by adding translations and doing functional tests.
During the past months, you interviewed several people from the OCA community. Why and what did you expect?
The Interviews were conducted in the scope of my master thesis. The goal of the master thesis was to create a knowledge acquisition reference model that helps specific types of stakeholders to identify, structurally obtain and evaluate relevant knowledge about an open source ecosystem with the example of Odoo. To get to the end result of the knowledge acquisition reference model that is called KARM I conducted several interview phases in which I interviewed mainly experts with affiliations to the OCA. In the course of my master thesis there were three rounds of interviews with different goals and expectations.
Interview phase 1:
This interview phase had the two objectives to confirm the identified problem of unstructured and different knowledge acquisition and to prepare for the identification of relevant subject areas of open source ecosystems. To gather this information, the interviewees were presented with two problems in the Odoo context and should tell me how they would solve the problem and which information sources they would use.
The interviewees of this phase were all interviewed at the OCA Days 2022. The first interviewee was a project manager who contributes to the OCA together with his team at work. His approach to acquire knowledge to solve problems focuses on preventing to reinvent the wheel (doing work that has already been done by someone else). He knows the communication channels of the OCA and would be willing to use them to gather knowledge from the community. If he does not know the communication channels of an open source community, he uses the website as a first touching point to get information.
The second interviewee was a contributor and developer who has been part of the OCA since it was founded. He mainly acquires knowledge by using a search engine. If he cannot find an adequate result, he solves the problem himself by writing or modifying source code. He sees potential for improvement regarding the accessibility of information in the OCA. Because there is a big amount of modules and repositories, matching requirements to existing solutions is difficult in his view.
The last interviewee was a functional expert and project manager who had no former affiliation with the OCA and attended the event to get to know and evaluate the community. He was still getting acquainted with the OCA's infrastructure and organizational structure. When facing a specific problem, he would first use a search engine to find a solution and has not considered asking for help in the community. One reason for that is that it was not clear to him where to start and how high the threshold for using the community's resources is when he had not contributed yet. To make the first interactions with the community easier, he would appreciate an onboarding or induction process that could also be implemented with a chatbot in his opinion.
The second and third interviewee were persons that have no technical background and no affiliations with the OCA or Odoo. They have the perspective of a user of open source software that has to choose the best suitable solution for specific requirements. Consequently, they have not been directly engaged in an open source ecosystem or with its community and look at open source software as a software product. They both coordinate the selection and implementation of the open source software solutions for schools in their respective regions. When they choose the best suitable software for schools, their focus is on their functional requirements. To be considered as a software solution, an open source software has to be stable. If the functional requirements are met, the software is tested at one or several specific schools and there is an evaluation afterwards. There is no predefined process or set of criteria when a software is selected or the criteria are set and checked by a consulting open source service firm. Often, the chosen software is a single vendor commercial open source project which makes the support dependent on the single vendor company. Additionally, it can be difficult to find companies and experts with the needed expertise to support the implementation of a chosen software solution.
The fourth interviewee of phase 2 is a functional expert and an OCA board member. In the beginning of their work with the OCA, she experienced that it was hard to find her way as a functional expert in a community that mainly has developers as members. The first information source she used were other community members, GitHub and the contributor mailing list. She very actively tried to acquire as much knowledge as possible. The community structure was explained to her by other community members. The first criteria for her and her colleagues for choosing to offer services for Odoo was its functionality and the second criteria was the openness of the community. She also actively acquired knowledge about the OCA governance. The handling of disputes in the OCA could be improved in her view. The project transparency and openness, especially the ability to influence the community, are very important criteria for her.
In summary, the interview phase 2 evaluated the identified relevant subject areas of open source ecosystems and the feedback from the interviewees could be used to improve the structure. Besides that, insights on the knowledge acquisition process, criteria and perspectives of different stakeholders could be derived from the interviews