OpenNetworks Consulting Process
Consulting work is typically done as a three step process. We first provide a Needs Analysis, which involves interviewing some of the client staff in order to define the technology needs of the non-profit. The result of the Needs Analysis process will include a detailed Project Plan for implementation and costs.
We will also determine if the organization is a candidate for an OpenNetworks discount. In some cases, the organization will be "well-funded" and can pay the full consulting rate; in other cases, the organization will be "struggling" with only volunteer staff, so OpenNetworks will see if their rate can be lowered. Many organizations will be considered to be "under-funded" and will be eligible for a partial discount, which is based on a sliding scale.
Discounts apply only to the OpenNetworks hourly consulting rates. It specifically does not cover out-of-pocket expenses or the cost of any equipment that must be purchased (refurbished equipment, when available and appropriate, is always provided free of charge).
If the client organization agrees to proceed, the equipment (some of which may need to be purchased) is procured and the systems integration (and any custom software work) is begun at OpenNetworks. If the project will take longer than a week, the consultant will submit a weekly project report, which will inform the client of the work accomplished and the work remaining.
Once all of the software is complete and the systems integrated, it all goes through a Quality Assurance process that implements the Test Plan developed during the Needs Analysis process. Successful completion of the Test Plan indicates the equipment and software are ready to install at the client site(s).
Once the equipment and software are installed, classes are held to train the staff on their use. Training is normally done at the client's offices and focuses on helping the user make the transition from proprietary operating systems and applications to Open Source Software. Training will assume some knowledge of the previously existing systems.
Further support and training is arranged separately on a project-by-project basis. Training is usually performed by OpenNetworks staff and volunteers. Support is considered separate from the project development and systems integration. Selection of a support organization (either OpenNetworks or a trusted third party) is made by the client.
OpenNetworks was created to provide not-for-profit and social change organizations with an extremely low-cost alternative to traditional IT solutions. By using refurbished hardware and Open Source Software, organizations can make their IT budgets go farther, so they have more money to spend on their program work.