[Strategic] Working groups budgeting guidelines

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Fri Jan 7 22:06:27 GMT 2011


Milo van der Linden wrote:
> I think it would be wise if all working groups fill out a template at 
> the start of each financial year, clearly stating their activities, what 
> they require and what they expect to achieve. This is no budgeting 
> template, but it forms the base for it and already shows a general 
> indication of what they think they require.
> (see http://www.dogomaps.net/osmf-wg-planning-template.odt for an 
> initial template)

Let's be very careful not to burden workings groups with administrative 
overhead. Setting goals for themselves and monitoring the progress 
towards these goals is something that may be sensible/feasible for some, 
but certainly not for all. (I'd struggle to set an opearational goal and 
define a monitoring method for *this* working group, for example. Also, 
we have always agreed that OpenStreetMap is not a professional service 
provider and that whatever we do on the technical side is a "best 
effort" thing rather than any guaranteed & measured service level 
agreements, so the technical-sounding examples in that template might 
give people the wrong ideas.)

Maybe we should stick to what was discussed on IRC - collect budgetary 
requirements. Not "ask working groups to find suitable measurements for 
the quality of service they produce and run statistics accordingly".

> This will be a spreadsheet that every working group needs to create,

... provided that they require significant money - if they just need a 
few euros for the occasional correspondence then no need to fill any forms.

I'm also a bit uncomfortable about the listing of person-time in the 
requirements column because this mixes up two different things. This 
whole process is about budged, and most working groups will not have 
their own funding. So when a working group says "this needs 5k EUR" then 
the money has to come from OSMF. But if they say "this needs 1 
man-month" then it is certainly up to them to find someone to do that 
work ;)

> it 
> should be fit to have them estimate budget in advance, and at the end of 
> a financial year, close the budget with real figures so it can be 
> evaluated. The spreadsheet will also indicate whether the budget for the 
> next year should be in- or decreased. My example also shows that 
> relocation of budgets can also be made visible.
> (see http://www.dogomaps.net/osmf-wg-budget-template.odt for an initial 
> template)

Make that .ods not .odt ;)

> Please let me know what you think; Is this a move in the right 
> direction? Or am I completely lost?

You are dangerously close to Dilbert land with your first template, in 
my personal opinion; the second is all right.

I think working groups will need a little guidance along the lines of 
"think about the funds that may be needed in your area". They may be 
used to be able to just go to the board and request something during the 
year, and may need to be coaxed a bit into the kind of advance planning 
that is now asked of them.

At the same time, it must be made clear (as Mikel also said on IRC) that 
just because working groups can request funding for something doesn't 
mean that they automatically have a license to do whatever big thing it 
is they require funding for. Sometimes having a form to fill in gives 
people all kinds of strange ideas ("Uniforms! Sure, let's get uniforms 
for all members of the data working group so they look more impressive 
when they slap people on the wrists...")

Also, keep in mind that we're talking a *very* small number of working 
groups here:

TWG - already has budgeting process in place (said Mikel)
SOTM - must also have a budgeting process already I guess; also only WG 
with their own income sources
Articles - inactive
Licensing - temporary working group that will hopefully cease to exist 
once the license change is over
Data - no budgetary requirements that I could see
Strategic - same

That leaves us with the Communications and Local Chapters working group, 
and maybe Licensing if the budgeting process is quick (or the 
relicensing is slow).

Maybe we should talk of "Working group or project" to make clear that 
you don't have to set up a one-man working group just to get funding.

> I will try to create some flowcharts too that will easily explain the 
> budgeting-related processes.

Try not to go over the top here. We must be careful not to give the 
project at large the impression that Strategic is a bunch of would-be 
managers desperate for something to manage. Let's try and keep 
bueraucracy and processes small - we may need to introduce some, but we 
should stick to the absolute minimum ("the simplest thing that could 
possibly work") rather than rejoicing in the chance to design processes.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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