PloneGov: Distributing costs between Public Organizations
PloneGov applications are easily transferable to similar foreign authorities and their potentials for replication are enormous. This project open the way to international software collaboration. The development of such software sharing initiatives helps underpin the sustainability of public services and save public money.
Convincing the accountants
While many IT people find working together in PloneGov productive and inspirational, their employers sometimes struggle to understand the concept. Joel Lambillotte, IT manager of the town of Sambreville, recalls that at the start of the project, it was not easy to convince his superiors to let him work on CommunesPlone. "They have a short-term view. We could only do it because we didn't have to spend money in the beginning", he says.
This problem of justifying a way of working that is unusual in the public sector exists in all municipalities. CommunesPlone deals with this by frequently releasing small pieces of software, rather than spending a long time working on a big program. "We have to come up with concrete results every three months", says Lambillotte.
With CommunesPlone, Lambillotte now spends his IT budget differently than before. "My boss sometimes thinks I'm doing nothing, because I have no public procurements for software licenses running", he jokes. Now, his resources go into personnel for programming applications. He also contracts firms, usually SMEs to coach the developers both in working with Plone, and in open collaboration with the community.
Lambillotte emphasises that it is not the goal of CommunesPlone to develop software with public sector developers. "We believe that the goal is to set up rules for the development of public sector applications, and to let SMEs and IT providers apply those rules. We've asked the Walloon region (Belgium) to finance the hiring of more services from SMEs."