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PloneGov challenges: growth and structure

by xavier last modified 2009-06-30 10:53

PloneGov wants to grow. This project aims to reach more and more public organizations, and set up successful collaborations between them. It seeks to connect people who already have a strong base of Plone applications and are active in the sector. This article investigates the challenges between structuring a project and remaining flexible enough to maintain its attractiveness.

Based on a case study by the Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR), an initiative of the European Commission's IDABC project.

As PloneGov grows, there is a debate among its members whether the group should have a legal structure, something that is currently not the case. Personally, Lambillotte, IT manager of the town of Sambreville and leader of CommunesPlone, is skeptical: "We are a little afraid of that structure. If you set up a structure, politics might start to play a bigger role." In Zea Partners CEO, Xavier Heymans' view, PloneGov will need a global structure to continue to grow, though "there's no need for too much centralization. But we need at least one organization that can be trusted by the others". He says there will need to be more coordination between countries, so that synergies can be fully exploited. This coordination will need funding, which most public sector decision makers are currently reluctant to give.

According to Heymans, people in the public sector are used to paying for traditional software development. But with a model such as PloneGov's, a significant part of the cost is for coordination. He says that if PloneGov is to grow into a more solid structure, it will need technical coordinators in different countries. They would ensure that applications fit the needs of the participating government bodies. This task could either be handled by an SME, or by a person from a public body. The Zea Partners CEO argues that potential funders currently do not recognise the importance of coordination and management: "They just won't fund that part of the work." As PloneGov (and FLOSS in general) becomes better known, this problem is diminishing but remains a key issue to develop the potential of such an international collaborative projects.

PloneGov as a brand

"By now, PloneGov has become a brand", says Heymans. "If an SME talks about PloneGov as a project that's reaching hundreds public organisations in 20 countries, it is much easier for them than starting from scratch. The project is gaining momentum." The PloneGov brand also makes it easier for those promoting PloneGov to get support for the project from politicians.

Since 2007, PloneGov, its SubCommunities and a number of related collaborating Plone based eGovernment project have been acclaimed by the press, attracted the interest of Researchers and received a total of 22 awards and nominations. Some examples are listed at

The Plone and PloneGov marks and logo are registered trademark of the Plone Foundation.