Given time constraints of multiple people involved, we are holding a one hour interview tomorrow at 10am EDT. All who are interested in learning more about Cynthia and weighing into this decision are welcome.
And for those who did not get a chance to meet me on the call. Please don’t hesitate to send me your queries or questions about my experience and the projects I have worked on, or perhaps I how I could better support you in the role.
I would say my Technical Program Manager position that I held at Grameen as well as some of the of the Government projects I worked on earlier in my career, have really laid the foundation of the expertise that I have today. The projects were very complex, with numerous stakeholders, at times multiple government agencies involved in the same project. The projects required that I possess excellent communication, people management, conflict resolution and problem-solving skills. These are the key ingredients to successfully creating a productive and positive ecosystem Given that I will be working with different diverse teams and organizations in a very multicultural environment.
Is there anything in particular, about our community project management, that you would do differently?
Have you ever faced a challenge of managing a project which is done by volunteers (people who are not paid to do that work), and their progress does not seem to move at a pace that will meet the deadline? If yes, what did you do to address it? If not, what would you do in such circumstances?
We have not had some one in this position, for quite a long time. What do you think, that your taking up this role, will help us as a community of developers, implementation sites, and leadership team?
And lastly, yes i know that i asked you this during the call we had last Friday. But i wanted to ask again when not in a hurry. For a person of your experience, am sure you have plenty of available options or opportunities to take up. What is unique about OpenMRS that made it your first priority?
Thanks for the great questions. My response below:
I have a few assumptions:
Project management is of this nature is very difficult. I am not going to pretend that it will be a walk in the park.
We are like-minded people who are interested in similar things
We have a vision of where we would like this platform to go.
We believe in the core tenants of why this platform came into existence.
We want to create a fit for purpose tool that would generate the best quality information to support and inform decision makers.
Some of the ideas I mention below already exist on the platform, apologies for that (I may not have seen it yet);
What am I bringing to the table?
Identify the gaps and issues in the functioning of the ecosystem; This platform has been in operation for a long time, there have been good days and bad days. I would want to establish some sort of issues list and try and resolve most of them within the first 90 days within commencement of the position. Those that we are not able to resolve, would be kept and managed as risks that would need more rigor in addressing (and perhaps tough decisions that will need to be made) them.
Establish clear communication channels: I notice that the platform (openmrs.org) is very vibrant with activities. If we have specific large tasks/projects that need to be worked on, I would need to establish how we are going to communicate, the frequency and its contents, to ensure (for those with difficult time zones or availability) can still participate in the discourse. Would probably set up some tools for example, for managing requirements and project management (as simple as Trello, or perhaps as complex as Easy Redmine depending on the communities’ preference and budget) to make sure participants can know what’s happening when, manage the performance of the platform, and identify issues and risks.
Establish and support a collaborative environment; Build consensus. My role would be to create a safe space where contributors can share their ideas and issues, and manage such conversations in a transparent manner, thereby building more trust and synergy within the group.
Work with others or perhaps research on what other resources we could bring on board to support those who may be having challenges (newbies, volunteers, etc) or just keep track of the latest trends in the broader industry which may affect the functioning of the platform so that we are better positioned and responsive.
Establish rules of engagement: Does the platform have a code of conduct/ rules of engagement? I would want us to look at establishing some ground rules on what each of the different stakeholder’s roles is, what the expectations are (on both sides)), and what would happen in a case of non compliance? How do we transparently acknowledge contributions and how do we hold people accountable?
Money as incentive, does not necessarily mean guaranteed performance from my experience.
Contributing to an open source community is a mutually beneficial relationship; The platform gains quality, mature software, the contributor gains, experience, exposure, and recognition for their efforts.
Communicate clearly what our expectations are, should they participate.
We would need to set some ground rules; Establish some processes of getting quality, serious volunteers.
Provide the necessary support for them to succeed, management of contributions received and acknowledgment of such.
Clear consequences of not meeting the agreed objective they are to work on? We would need to create some accountability measures, but at the same time, create a “positive” environment for them to feel comfortable to ask for help before it’s too late.
Manage the risk; As we will be working using Agile principles, if I am not satisfied with performance, I would have to escalate the issue, and the accountability measures take effect.
I have elaborated on most of this in the interview and also in the above points.
I love challenges. This seems to be somewhat complex, that simple. 2. I have always endeavored to work on projects where technology can be used for the betterment of our communities, this has led me in so many amazing adventures, and this adventure seems intersting and exciting. 3. I enjoy working with like-minded people towards a common goal.
Identify and execute agreed high impact visible initiatives that will benefit the platform
Build a framework that shows how this position will align with strategic enterprise objectives. (Some of ideas I have alluded to in my answer to Daniel)
Establish a team of key people I can work and consult with as we look to execute on the initiative we identify.
Where would I like to see OpenMRS in 3 years?
The go to medical record system for any health organization looking to implement such a tool. OpenMRS should not be only for the preserve of Techies, but rather a “plug and play” solution with “sufficient” resourcing and capacity available in every locale to deploy and manage such an implementation.
Thanks so much for applying for this position! I enjoyed listening to the recording.
Among the responsibilities for a technical project manager will be to oversee and facilitate growth of volunteer project management resources within the OpenMRS community. Our hope is, by freeing up a strong technical project manager’s time to focus on OpenMRS community needs, she will multiply her impact by serving as a point of contact & coordinator for other talented project managers and business analysts who want to volunteer their time for the community. Currently, it’s difficult for such volunteers to find a way to engage with the community when there isn’t a clear point of entry for them and someone to welcome & guide them. In short, we hope our investment in one dedicated person will seed a larger group of volunteer effort.
FYI – if you haven’t heard, we have a weekly project management call, where several volunteers meet weekly to track active projects and do our best to provide some project management for the community to anticipate & address problems as well as assist the community in connecting & directing development efforts. A technical project manager would be a welcome addition and could evolve toward leading those efforts.