We’ve had good cause over this past month to celebrate IATI’s incredible milestone of 1000 publishers, thanks in large part to our fantastic Tech Team (never quite celebrated enough). I’m also thankful for a committed community that enthusiastically contributes time and expertise in support of the team’s work. With growth however comes challenge, and I’m reaching out to the community now to seek all of your support in meeting the current challenge.
In order to address some of the technical debt that has resulted from IATI’s rapid growth, the Governing Board worked with community experts on a technical audit last autumn, and based on the recommendations of the audit, the Board set out an ambitious workplan for the Tech Team for the remainder of the 2018/19 period. Over the coming months you’ll see the results including the new datastore and a new validator; the dashboard is also undergoing some essential improvements, as is the website. These and other planned activities are all coming together thanks to our tech team working with external service providers.
As Secretariat Coordinator I’m keen to make sure we continue to make the progress IATI needs to see according to the timeframe agreed with the Board. We have a clear workplan and accountability structure through the Board with which to achieve it, and major deliverables between now and the Members’ Assembly in September. With the departure last week of one of our key developers however, with pressure from the community cited as a factor in the decision to leave, our team’s capacity is reduced, putting progress in key activities at risk.
Having consulted with the Board, I’m sharing these clarifications on roles, responsibilities and processes to ensure that the team has the resources and space they need to do their work, and that they can do so in a supportive environment. This approach is proposed as an interim measure while we work with the community to establish robust processes for the longer term.
I am requesting the commitment of both tech team and community members to follow these processes which I believe will allow the Secretariat to deliver what the Board and members expect, whilst ensuring that community members continue to play their important roles.
Clarification of roles and responsibilities
- The Governing Board provides strategic guidance on all technical decisions. Formal announcements regarding Board decisions on technical issues will be communicated via the IATI website and the TAG newsletter.
- The TAG Chair is the liaison between the community and the Board. It is his role to represent the Board, convey and explain formal Board decisions to the community, and raise issues from the community to the Board. The TAG Chair works with a second Board technical focal point and maintains regular contact with the Technical Lead.
- The Technical Lead manages the Tech Team and is responsible to the Board for the implementation of the technical workplan.
- The Tech Team is responsible for delivering the activities in the technical workplan. With the Technical Lead, the Tech Team will continue to meet with Board technical focal points on a quarterly basis and publish updates on their progress and plans after each quarterly meeting.
- The TAG Community is encouraged to share best practices and suggestions or solutions to problems through the Discuss forum and technical code through Github.
Issues, suggestions and escalation procedures
- The Technical Team will prioritise activities and discussions that assist in delivering on agreed quarterly workplan commitments, drawing on the experience of the community particularly where it comes to technical code reviews.
- Key issues that may result in deviation from the approved workplan will be brought to the attention of the Technical Lead who in turn will escalate to the Coordinator, TAG Chair and/or relevant Board focal points for appropriate response or action.
As part of our review of the future of the TAG, we will also work together with the community to develop a more formal code of conduct and the processes that will help to guide our interactions and improve our accountability. This will however take some time and will need the input of the Secretariat working together with the community to ensure that everybody’s needs and expectations are properly met.
I want to reiterate the enormous appreciation we have for the support received each day from the community. Above all, however, I want to ensure that our staff can work in a safe, respectful and supportive environment which enables each of us to do what we are mandated to do; I’m seeking all of your support to ensure we can achieve the results we need to see.
Thanks very much,
IATI Secretariat Coordinator