Re: Proposed: Funding Open Source Accounting software

From: Josh Berkus <josh(at)postgresql(dot)org>
To: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: Proposed: Funding Open Source Accounting software
Date: 2013-05-03 17:16:09
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On 05/03/2013 09:45 AM, Clint Adams wrote:
> On Thu, May 02, 2013 at 12:43:03PM -0700, Josh Berkus wrote:
>> It's not an unrestricted donation.
> So you're proposing a restricted donation?

Ah, I didn't see the "General Donation" note. I'll need to ask Bradley
about that. I agree that I wouldn't be OK with the $10K being repurposed.

> What I meant was: I don't see any requirements from our end.

Part of the project will be developing requirements, as part of Phase 0.
I will be contributing to that portion, and I suspect others from SPI
will as well.

> In fact,
> this is the first time I'm hearing about inadequacies in our software
> solution rather than in process/workflow.

The SPI Board has, historically, been blissfully ignorant of the burdens
its treasurers labor under. Feel free to interview Michael on the
topic, or Jimmy.

> I don't have a clear
> understanding of what Conservancy will produce with the donations.
> Coupled, those things leave me without an understanding of what
> evaluation criteria would be used for SPI to adopt whatever Conservancy's
> solution is.

I understand your desires, but unless you want to vote additional money
to pay for someone's time to develop written requirements independant of
the Conservancy project, it's not going to happen (it might not happen
even if you do). There are 3 people familiar with the real requirements
of SPI's accounting, and none of us have free time, or we'd already be
working on software.

> At work (an NPO) we use accounting tools based on hledger. Would
> Conservancy's output be useful to us? I have no idea. Would our
> tools be useful to SPI? I have no idea.

Again, it's an open source project, with a development mailing list.
Among other things, your experience based on hledger would be valuable,
as would your contribution to requirements.

That this effort needs to meet the requirements of several existing NPOs
makes it highly probable that it will meet the requirements of a large
group of NPOs who are not directly involved in it.

> Would $10,000 be spent
> better in another way more in line with our remit? I have no
> idea.

I assert that it would not. Especially since that $10K represents money
we have sat on for literally years, and nobody has introduced plans to
spend it any other way.

> You and Jimmy seem to be pretty confident about this. Is it just
> because you know Bradley or is there concrete information from which
> the rest of us would benefit?

Well, this project represents years of conversations with Bradley and
others (from the ASF, PSF, CiviCRM, etc.) on the topic of inadequate
software for NPOs and accounting software. We actually started on this
back in 2008; at the time, I was going to be funded to work on
converting LedgerSMB to LedgerNPO. However, our major funder pulled out
at the last minute and decided to fund a different project which crashed
and burned. The Conservancy and Bradley have been part of the work and
discussions around this for the entire time, since the Conservancy's
accounting needs closely align with SPI's.

--Josh Berkus


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