Fruitful Partnerships with Corporate Technology Partners

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Facilitated by Tomas Krag, Refugees United

Session Description

Refugees United has worked with a number of corporate partners, including Ericsson, who built their mobile front ends and SAP, who is building an offline data-entry application. Tomas will explain the collaborative model and share his advice on how to enjoy fruitful partnerships across the for-profit/nonprofit boundary.

Session Notes

- How do small non-profits use corperate partnerships to sucesfully improve their effectiveness?

- How do you get corporate partnerships?

- Handle the backend data, and get corporate partners to build the front end

- You need to make comprimises when working with corporate partnerships. Be pragmatical about reaching your ends.

- Opensource is something you have to breed into your culture, and if you don't have it, you can get corperations to help out

- You can cold call companies and people will want to help, either through free software or actual work hours

- It is best to come up with very specific tasks that you need help with

- When doing kinda closed things like SMS you have to do corporate parnerships

- A big worry is getting dependent on liscenced products, but usually once you are in the door they keep supporting you

- Big corperations have CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilty) departments that you can talk to

- Companies often do social projects for internal marketing to their employees

- It is hard to say no to partnerships that you don't have time to manage or don't really need what they are offering (Microsoft)

- You often have to comprimise on timelines and such when dealing with business development issues

- It is important to put yourself in the shoes of the corporate partner to see what their real motivation is

- Often you have to let volunteers do what they want, even if it won't be useful, so long as it doesn't waste resources

- Sometimes corportate or government parners want to take over the project

- If you wear a suit they will treat you differently than if you do casual, benefits to each dress code

- Sometimes when a partnership is forced on you, you can just stall to avoid them (sorry I can't make the meeting, my kid is sick)

- If you are afraid a partner's work will not be useful, don't give them access to your core platform

- Corporations, like many volunteers, promise work and don't complete on time

- Since you don't want volunteers messing up your core platform, you have to architect that distinction into your plan

- Sometimes you have to pay programmers or contractors to do your core platform to ensure long-term

- You often have to use lying, stalling, and insisting to convince bosses to do things like spend money on core operations

- You can't demand methodologies on exteral partnerships, such as agile and testing, you have to black box a part for them

- You need to do vigourous testing to ensure that donated code won't break things. It takes manhours

- Sometimes you can get volunteers to check the code of other volunteers

- "It is really expensive to get free work. There is nothing free about free work. "

- Set up sandbox with sanitized data for partners to use without worry of comprimising privacy or your live site

- "Corporates love corporates" so some partnerships lead to more partnerships

- Corporate programmers are often not good, but lots of time open-source programs aren't good either

- Many corporate partners have programmers dedicated to doing CSR work

- Often coporate partners don't speak the same programming language and such

- When starting a fresh projects, you may want to chose a coporate language like J2E and .net if coporates are doing most of the work

- It is all about having the strength of mind of knowing where you want to go

- It is important to clear ownership and liscencing before starting partner work

- Often when a partner stops working with you, it become intenuous to maintain their code, and you may have to start over

- Sometimes you get in situations where you just have to throw money at a project to get it completed or fixed

Summary:

- You can architect your system for corporate partnerships and volunteer development

- "It is really expensive to get free work. There is nothing free about free work."

- You often have to make compromises around a partner's business needs

- there are risks of corporate partnerships