Sakai Foundation Board of Directors Conference Call
September 18, 2008
This document contains minutes from the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors conference call held on September 18, 2008. Corrections, suggestions should be sent to John Norman and Mary Miles.
These minutes capture both the discussion and formal resolutions of the board. Simply because something was discussed does not mean that it is the agreed-upon position of the board. When the board makes a formal resolution to approve an item, it will be noted as such in the minutes. If there is no such notation, readers should assume that the minutes are simply the notes of the board discussions.
Board members present: Mara Hancock, Chris Coppola, Josh Baron, Clay Fenlason, Lance Speelmon, Jutta Treviranus, Lois Brooks, Michael Korcuska (ex-officio)
Board members absent: John Norman, Joseph Hardin
Topic: Review of August Minutes
With minor modifications, the August minutes were approved and will be posted on Confluence.
Topic: ED Update
Michael presented on the following topics:
Sakai/UM Accounting: A detailed document was distributed prior to the meeting. In summary, Sakai continues the process of disentanglement from the University of Michigan via a MOU. UM will begin invoicing Sakai in October, for September activities. Credit card transactions are being billed directly to the Foundation instead of to UM and all invoices are being sent from Sakai. Although the financial balance is lower than expected or anticipated, it is primarily a collections issue, with much of that being from invoices sent in July/August timeframe when invoices seem to get lost. Outstanding invoices will continue to be reviewed. There was increased spending in the areas of: UX spending, QA resources now on board, overrun on the hotel (lack of making room block commitment in Paris). Michael felt that the right thing to do is focus on collections and wait another month as he believes this is a short-term issue.
Membership: Because renewals are not synchronized on a common calendar date, it's hard to know precisely what renewal membership is, in either number or revenue. There will be a new commercial affiliate coming on from Brazil, but not for a couple of weeks. The University of Maryland has joined and there are several new prospects, including Brock University and McGraw-Hill. The Foundation is looking for new members out of adoptions and not spending much time trying to find other members in other places. There are a couple of potential SCAs but never sure until we actually talk to them. Can never tell if they are looking for work, or intending to provide Sakai services in their region.
Foundation competencies & staff: Michael has been meeting with the Sakai staff and others in an effort to determine the correct and appropriate staffing level for the foundation and how that relates to an appropriate budget. As a part of those discussions, he is also trying to understand the kind of revenue needed to support the appropriate staffing level. Spending over the next 6 months spending is expected to be substantially lower than the past six months due to the elimination of the December conference. Even if staffing expenses were increased, the expenses to the SF will be lower over the next 6 month period than over the past 6 month period. That was reflected in some of the earlier budgeting exercises.
Michael indicated that he has tried to build the thinking around what staff we should have in a couple of different ways. 1) what we need for next year; 2) more focus on contract employees and less on salaried employees. Michael went through an exercise with the staff about what the core competencies of the Foundation should be. He also talked to others about this as well. The criteria for devoting Foundation resources was as follows:
• Too important to fail and isn't happening in the community
• It's a temporary fix
• It amplifies community capability (if it makes others more productive
• It is time sensitive
• The Foundation is already good at it
• When centralization gives a compelling advantage.
A list of competencies were also reviewed:
• Finances and Member Administration
• Licensing & Legal
• QA Leadership
• On-boarding & Communication (introducing people to the community)
• Release Management
• Technical Leadership
• UX Leadership
• Community Process Management
• Developer Support/Training
• Acquiring Temporary Help
• Documentation/Online help
• Grant Writing
This list represents a mix of what we already do and what is reasonable to thing the Foundation might do.
Several members of the board stated that they were expecting to see product management on here as something that we are not great at today, but would like to do better. Michael suggested that this was covered under community process management, but maybe that should be a separate item. Mara noted that with release management in the top level, product management should be a partner to that.
Chris discussed the definition of Product Management as the role of taking market requirements and translating them into product requirements. Mara added that in this setting, it should be considered as the activity of defining the need for a functionality for a release and managing to that scope to ensure that it's in a release. Clay noted that project coordination was also missing and questioned whether that should fall under Community Process Management. Michael replied that the foundation may not be able to do that very well unless it's under the category of temp help to provide assistance to institutions that need that help. The fundamental reason for that statement is that it has been challenging to find a pool of resources that were available to work together across institutions on a project. While that could be a valuable role, it requires available resources. One step of project management would be determining scope and managing to that scope. That's at least one step of project management that would be in product management as well, understanding that it would be very different if you had a set of defined resources. Michael agreed that if a project coalesced, he would certainly be willing to fund a specific project manager.
Michael's thinking about the project management role in the Foundation is that of a temporary position, something in the category of acquiring temp help that we could deploy in particular situations, and having people who could do that when needed. This may not be a role of the Foundation staff, and would require a project manager. The members on the call agreed that further discussion needs to take place around the definition of a project manager as it relates to the open source/community source world.
Action: The board agreed that a separate meeting was needed to discuss this issue before a final decision was made.
Topic: UX Matching
The University of Stockholm has indicated their willingness to pledge $15K to see the UX work go forward. That funding would be used to fund UX efforts as well as other technical efforts. Michael suggested that for every dollar the community put up, the Foundation would put up 50 cents, up to a total of $40K from the Foundation, for a total funding of $120K. The objective of this would be a new UX design that would be part of 2.7 or 3.0 release. Implicit in this is that the design work that Nathan is doing is valuable and that it's money well spent in improving the product. Stockholm would require a scope of work, along with some periodic review and a final report. Jutta indicated that some of Jess' time might be available for this effort as well, as long as there is a well-defined project within the roadmap that has been laid out and there is a a time limit associated with that. It's extremely important that there is implementation at the end and that people can see that it is a valuable improvement. In this case, it might make sense to have a project manager to coordinate these efforts, but that doesn't have to be decided at this point. Additional funds will be sought and the prioritized and managed by Michael.
Action: The Board approved going forward with the plan to create an initiative around this with the Sakai Foundation matching funds gathered up to $40K of Foundation funds. Michael will continue to seek additional institutions to contribute to this effort.
Topic: Board Elections
It will soon be time for the next round of Board elections. In addition to the departure of Ian Dolphin, terms will also end for Mara Hancock, Chris Coppola and John Norman. It was suggested that the election process proceed for two new board members. In addition, the board would begin drafting language and seeking input from the community about their desire to recruit two external board members that would be selected by the board.
Action: The board approved going forward with elections for two board positions. This will be coupled with an announcement to the community around why this is being done. A sub-committee will be formed to bring forward a recommendation on external board members.
Topic: Board Retreat
A proposal was presented for an extended board retreat. This will be scheduled further out with the express effort of having everyone accommodated. It was also suggested that part of the retreat be facilitated by a professional. It was felt that it would be best to have the retreat after the elections so that new board members could be involved. Josh stated that he would be unable to travel until January, but offered the possibility of hosting the retreat at Marist. It could be possible to have both outgoing and incoming board members present in order to provide continuity. The board felt that 2 and ½ days were needed for the retreat. Mary will contact the board members for their availability after the elections, making accommodation of everyone a priority. Work will also begin on selecting a facilitator for this retreat.
Action: Mary will contact the board members to determine their availability for the retreat.
With no further business before the board, the conference call ended.