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Assessing GeoNetwork Investment

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Assessing ANZLICs Investment

Using the criteria described above, the following sections discuss the effectiveness of ANZLIC’s investment in GeoNetwork. Most of this section draws upon an email thread where suggested improvements to ANZLIC’s investment in GeoNetwork were discussed.

The issues discussed include:

  • GeoNetwork provides most of the functionality required by the stakeholders, making it a good basis to start from.
  • Software developers have noted the design and software is fair, but a number of improvements to the design, documentation and testing regime would greatly improve the extensibility and maintainability of the code-base.
  • There is concern over the disjoint between sponsors and developers knowledge. The cost of feature development is understood by the developers for specific parts of the code but has not been communicated to the sponsors, limiting their ability to make effective decisions.
  • The standard infrastructure and liaison costs associate with the project are being incurred by the developers and are neither visible nor acknowledged by the sponsors.
  • To date there have been long delays in expected deliverables.
  • There is concern that multiple forks of the GeoNetwork code base are being maintained, which will ultimately increase the costs of managing the project and keeping the forks up to date.
  • The current release is still being labelled as a beta release, indicating that it is currently not ready for a production environment despite assurances that it is.
  • Development progress is currently not being monitored against any schedule.
  • The requirements and scope of ANZLIC’s investment are unclear, and no milestones have been established.

While this list is long and varied, these concerns can be largely addressed with three changes to the process:

  1. Employ software development project management techniques. Management of software development is a refined art with established processes which extend the usual management processes already established in government purchasing processes.
  2. Accurately assess the scope of the project and resource accordingly. The scope should include GeoNetwork infrastructure development and community support to ensure the long-term health and opportunity management of ANZLIC’s investment.
  3. Monitor the software development progress using techniques like Earned Value Management.

Resourcing

Australian and New Zealand already have a strong community of GeoNetwork developers both within government agencies and commercially that we can draw upon. These developers can be pooled together under a common project and project manager but still answerable to their respective organisations’ goals. The project will answer to the Aust/NZ steering committee.

There are two identified funding structures readily available for GeoNetwork, described in the following sections.

Long Term Strategic Investment

Programs like the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) managed by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have long term funding to build a robust spatial data infrastructure and have substantial funding to apply to infrastructure – automated build and test suites, core design changes, documentation, community building etc.

Project Specific Deliverables and Timeframes

Many of the other stakeholders have project specific requirements related to collecting and managing metadata within their organisation. These projects will typically focus on configuration and integration with existing systems.

Recommendations

Resources

A number of key roles have been identified that, once filled, would contribute significantly to the success of the project.

Software Project Manager

A role is created to manage ANZLIC’s software development in accordance with standard software development processes. These include accurately assessing and prioritising scope, monitoring progress (using standard techniques like EVM), reporting progress, liasing with stakeholders (including ANZLIC members, greater GeoNetwork community and standards bodies), and managing risks and opportunities.

Community Liaison Officer

Funding a community liaison officer to sit on email lists and IRC and answer developer and user questions is a very effective investment in engaging future developers and sponsors. This role is usually someone who has been involved in the project for a while and has a good understanding of the technology and people involved in the project.

Developers

One conclusion of community discussions was that ANZLIC’s investment in GeoNetwork is insufficiently resourced. Increasing the number of developers available to work on core infrastructure is essential in ensuring the project will remain stable and extendable as well as speeding the incorporation of missing functionality as needed. This has the added benefit of increasing the pool of developers available to perform or assist in large-scale deployments as the project nears completion.

Tasks

The following tasks need to be addressed:

  • Identify sponsors and their business drivers.
  • Provide list of desired features.
  • Review the state of the software, design, and infrastructure and recommend updates.
  • Provide cost/benefit analysis

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Topic revision: r3 - 15 Oct 2010, UnknownUser
 

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