Ideas for an Open Atrium Partners Program

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Yesterday while speaking on the SXSX panel Selling Your Milk When the Cow is Free, I talked about some of our plans on making Open Atrium development sustainable and for the first time publicly shared ideas on what an Open Atrium Partners Program would look like, in addition to plans for commercial support to follow. In this post I’ll recap that and go into more detail on what we are seeing in a Partners Program and get feedback.

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Why partners are a good thing

About two months ago I starting emailing different shops that are building on Open Atrium to ask what would be helpful for them if we were to move into the commercially supported space. What came back was a unanimous request for an “Open Atrium Partner Program” that would help teams build and deploy Open Atrium better and more efficiently. Honestly, I’ve always been cynical of partner programs because I had only seen a few that had done it really well. But after really looking at other companies that offer support and the feedback we got from different shops, we believe we are in an amazing position to offer real value that will help shops build better sites and sell more projects.

We want to make it easy for teams to prove their Open Atrium expertise and ensure Open Atrium custom development is always successful. This is why the main focus of our partners program will be on training and capacity building. Here are the main components we are seeing now:

  • Training courses
  • Developer channels for third tier support
  • Partner meetings
  • Partner section on OpenAtrium.com
  • Partner bling

Our goal is to create a training course and support system that will bring in shops as real partners and give them real value — and not have something that is a a pay to play program. Below are more details on our current draft plan. We are very open to adjusting this to provide more value to partners, so if you have ideas please talk to us.

What the program will look like

Training

Training will be a major component of the Partners Program, and we are thinking of starting off with a two day training that would be held in person and remotely. Here are the possible topics we are seeing right now:

  • The heart of Open Atrium- Context, Spaces, and PURL, something similar to the talk Young is giving at DrupalCon SF
  • Features and Exportables and issues with keeping configuration in the database
  • Building processes — Drush, drush_make, and sharing Features via Feature servers
  • Building and rolling out Features (best practices)
  • Theming Open Atrium
  • Deploying Open Atrium with Aegir
  • Security best practices

For this ninja factory to work, some of these will be broken into a few talks that have real depth. This is only going to work if we can ensure people leave this training with the ability to implement. Also, the kinds of partners we are going to bring on are already going to be solid developers, so there is no value in a cursory overview.

We will be finalizing the training plans in the next couple weeks and will post in detail about each training topic on OpenAtrium.com. Having the trainings listed in detail will be key for partners to assess the value of the program, and the curriculum will create a solid foundation of credibility for the program that shows value in the eyes of companies looking to contract Open Atrium Partners.

Developer channels

Each partner will get a dedicated support channel with our team for third tier support, and anyone who completes a training will get a seat in the channel. We will respond to all support requests within 24 hours, and that will happen during regular business hours (EST).

Partner meetings

We know developers are busy and can’t hang out in the #open_atrium IRC chat room all day and that keeping up with everything that’s happening on Community.OpenAtrium.com and Drupal.org can be time consuming. To help ensure that our partners are in the know on what’s happening with Open Atrium, we will hold quarterly conference calls with all partners to review what developments have happened — a “State of Open Atrium” given every three months. While these will definitely benefit developers they may also be helpful for business folks who are selling Open Atrium.

Partner section on OpenAtrium.com

We’ll feature partners prominently on OpenAtrium.com and include a fun profile that shares company information, a description of what the company does, and other information. We’ll also publish the analytics we are getting on OpenAtrium.com to show how much advertising value this could be.

Partner bling

Every partner would get a hot set of Open Atrium partner badges that they can post to their website that will link back to their profile. We’re interested in hearing what other sort of bling would be helpful to people too.

Business details

First, there will be no tiers. People are paying for a service, not branding. Here are some other quick details:

  • We estimate, right now, that this will cost $4,000 per year. This could change as we spec out the program.
  • This will include training for two people.
  • It will also include refresher courses for employees who have completed the training included as well, down the road.
  • We hope to host Partner trainings every four months.

In short, our primary, big picture goal with an Open Atrium Partners Program is to help our partners really know how to make Open Atrium dance. This is why we are designing our program around building skills and capacity so that people can develop on it in the best and smartest possible way.

We look forward to hearing what people think of this, after all this is only going to work if this more than pays for itself. Email me ideas and suggestions [email protected]

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