As we all know @rmehta announced that governance of ERPNext is supposed to be moved to an ERPNext.org Foundation. We wer all pretty excited to hear this at the conference and I am curious to see how the idea of the foundation will develop.
I had a couple of interesting phone conversations since people have seen my talk at the conference on Youtube and I noticed that the Open Source nature of ERPNext is a main selling point but the project staying open source is also a main concern for many of the enterprise customers who have called me who are interested in using ERPNext for their businesses. There are many people out there who have been disappointed in the past years, especially from freemium Odoo. We are talking about entrepreneurs and startups but I have also talked to CEO’s of multi-million dollar enterprises with hundreds of employees.
We know Frappe is on the right way and has a good business mode. The cloud customers ensure revenue stream and the conscious choice to not involve venture funding ensures the customer’s interest stays in focus rather than quick profit and taking over the world. Rushabh and everybody at Frappe seems to have the right spirit to keep this project growing in the coming years. I trust these guys with the success of my business and so should you. But we have to be financially realistic too, Frappe needs to stay in bread and butter and I also believe these guys deserve to be compensated well for the amazing product they have created.
So the idea of a foundation is exactly right and by no means premature. It needs to happen to ensure that enterprises are willing to move away from their ERP systems (I have talked to companies using Odoo, Navision and SAP) and focus their development resources on ERPNext with a understanding that they too should live open source, fix bugs and contribute to the core stack of Frappe and ERPNext. I am really anxious to see what happens next and what Frappe and Rushabh thing should happen next, here is my two cents:
Establishing the foundation should happen as soon as possible and leadership established. Ideally this happens sooner than later so the next conference can be co-organized and funded by the foundation.
Creating the foundation website with a strong community that gets more involved into fixing bugs and helping each other out to reduce dependency on Frappe for everything.
Discussing and voting what development the foundation believes has to happen and what needs to be put in focus through funded development. This would allow funding of even more rapid development and bug fixing through individual and corporate donations rather than laborous “lets all chip in together for this invoice”.
Attracting premium partners for the foundation who’s engagement is adequately advertised. In exchange these corporate partners help fund the foundation and premium partners aught to provide developmental resources and fix issues on GitHub.
Organizing events around the Frappe framework and ERPNext beyond the annual conference to get a broader community using frappe for enterprise, educational and other projects.
@rmehta How can we facilitate this as a community and how can I help individually?
@dominik thanks for writing this and your concerns!
We have applied for a name, but our first attempt “ERPNext Foundation” got rejected, we are now trying “ERPNext Software Foundation”. Even though our government wants to help startups, there is still a lot of gap in implementation and we have decided not to pay any bribes. So it might be a bit slow, but it will come! Surely by next conference!
Would love to have you as an active / founding member. Registration is the only step that requires government approval, I assume the rest of it should be a matter of doing some paper work.
So we will be registering this as a charitable company and we might have to see what laws apply for non-Indians taking ownership. But I think we will work around by governing this via the council of members (and not share-holders, we will put it in the by-lays), and there should be no restriction on who can become a member.
Will keep you updated.
These are the exact reasons we would love to go the foundation way. We (as Frappé) will keep the erpnext.com domain for our intial contributions, but erpnext.org and other assets will belong to the community. Let’s figure this as we go.
Edit: Thanks for the follow-up! This makes it more motivating for us to keep pushing it. Otherwise its always a case of we really don’t know if anyone needs this!
@rmehta thank you for your reply! I just hung up from another great phone conversation with a potential ERPNext customer. The concerns voiced are again to make sure that ERPNext stays a vital project and doesn’t go the Odoo way of venture capital forced freemium concepts.
Thank you for doing this 100% clean, what a terrible foundation bribes are for a legitimate project. I would love to be an active / founding member of the ERPNext Software Foundation. Are you doing this as an Section-8 Company? Please let me know what you need / want me to do to help and to get involved.
Thanks for the follow-up! This makes it more motivating for us to keep pushing it. Otherwise its always a case of we really don’t know if anyone needs this!
We really need this to build confidence among enterprise businesses and to boost funding and third party feature implementations.
couldn’t agree more. If i’d take me as an example (currently considering switch to ERPNext from Odoo out of the exact reasons mentioned here) … if there was a guarantee EPRNext would not (and never will) follow a similar path. I’d stop thinking whether it was ‘good enough’ instantly and just move over today.
And that’s mainly because I am convinced the product itself will outrun any competition on the mid term if it is being kept Open Source. Ideals about a happy Open Source world do not play a major part here (at least not for me)
I am sure being THE one ‘real’ Open Source ERP product would have a remarkable impact and this should be utilized to advertise aggressively. But I also think it is essential that there will be liable guarantee and not ‘just’ warm words. And I hope setting up the Foundation could provide such a guarantee if it’s done right. I guess some of the main questions might be:
who controls the Foundation ?
how will the foundation be financed ?
how can community members participate in decision making beyond mere discussing things that have been decided elsewhere ?
I assume that the creators of ERPNext will have a key role but in order be safe not to fall in the ‘freemium trap’ control maybe has to be put in other hands
These are really imporant questions that should be addressed in the foundations mission statement and articles of incorporation.
Who are the members? We would have to ensure that there are trustees / members from a broad selection of industries and countries to reflect the interest of the world community and to make sure we have advocates in as many places as possible. We would need to make sure that the ERPNext Software Foundation is definitely a separate entity from Frappe and a sparring partner when it needs to be rather than a blind sheep.
How is it financed? Active members could pay an appropriate membership fee and should have the right to vote. Sponsors should not have a right to vote but contribute financially. We should encourage every user and particularly corporate users to contribute financially. Sponsorship packages could depend on financial contribution and contribution of developers and other resources. Platinum, Gold, Silver etc. We have some bigger companies using ERPNext and as that grows they can chip in while continuing to support Frappe. Of course individual donations would be super important and maybe Frappe would be willing to add a “support the foundation” markup on the subscriptions such as an additional 100$, 200$ or 500$ during checkout?
How can members contribute? Through active discussion in a forum that separarates the important discussions from general inquiries and error reports. Things that need to be officially voted on (such as the vote for the Board of Directors) could be discussed in the framework of the annual ERPNext conference. People who can not participate would be enabled to cast their vote remotly.
Thanks @dominik for starting this discussion.
As regards to “Who are the members” would it depends on who bring big $$$ as sponsorship or who bring the most development to the frappe/ERPNext/new apps projects ? Or a combination of both, or something else.
Also what is the rational for having a difference between active members who pay a fee and can vote and corporate sponsors who contribute financially but cannot vote. Or maybe a corporate sponsors could also vote?
Sorry if these question sound irrelevant at the moment. It is just what popped in my mind as I was reading the discussion above.
@Francois_Ifitwala and @vrms you both address very good points, let me contribute what I think about this together:
I think every individual or company should be able to be a member and that’s it, it should be democratic in the basic sense. We have to make sure that the board approves or doesn’t approve members to prevent any hostile take over.
I believe we should keep it straigth and simple and money or resources should not be able to buy you votes. Imagine this: Odoo contributes 500,000.00 $ and formally puts all of it’s developers on the team, they would be able to make all decisions themselves.
I think one member is one vote and the reason sponsors don’t get to vote is quite a practical consideration. Imagine this, we have to invite all members to the annual conference, sponsors want to sponsor, they don’t want to come and vote with one vote, they execute their influence in different ways. Anyways somebody or a company can be an active member and a sponsor.
The idea of sponsorship and the “status” of sponsorship should be completely detached from the membership of the foundation. Your calculation example of fee, code and contribution could be used to determine how VIP a sponsor is, I really like that idea instead of saying pay us X amout of money.
Jordan Hubbard had some nice suggestions when he was here at the conference.
The core team (the committers to the master branch) should be separate from the foundation. This has to be based on meritocracy. Right now its just us, but there are quite a few developers who are getting active like @max_morais_dmm, @ccfiel and others, so we can always expand the team of core-committers. I think its the same way with Linux and most open source projects.
The role of the foundation should be to evangelize and grow the product and fund features based on bugdet. If we have budget, we can have a group of developers who are on the foundation’s payroll. The goals and performance of these members should be decided by the executive committee of the foundation. Or the foundation could just release bounties that could be taken up by any developer.
The executive committee should be elected by the members and should be responsible for budgets, events, bounties, developers on payroll, fellowships (we could do fellowships for active developers).
The revenue of the foundation could be from sponsorship, service provider listings (we have already said we are happy to move that to the foundation)
It is important to note that the foundation is in addition to the ERPNext project which is an independent open source project (even from Frappé). Any competitor will never do this, because they know the community can always fork the project (for example M$ will never try and take over Linux Foundation). Even we as Frappé have to play within a certain framework if we want this to grow as an open source project.
Thanks @dominik to pushing this forward. The Foundation would be a huge step and would be right in time for the growing community.
We strongly beliebe that the foundation will be bringing:
more legal security
more trust in the project
more financial security
Sometimes this points are conflicting goals, for that the mix on board and within memberships are leads to accepted results. Neither Money nor idealism should be the entity. You need both within the foundation to help to succeed.
And more important nothing leads to dependence, both will be replaced by the community within a conflict case.
@rmehta have you checked out the edited document? Carly and I made some changes that you should check and approve if you agree.
This is what Carly wrote:
Hi Everyone, I did a first read over the text and made comments throughout where meaning needs to be clarified. One big difference is that I made all points begin with the “ING” verbal form, which is more standard with lists like this. I also separated the bullet points into a third section (Finances), please proof. Looking forward to your feedback!