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Community Project Handbook

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Community Project Handbook


The Community Project Handbook provides guidance to project leaders, volunteers, and other community members engaged in the Tech community effort. This handbook compiles an ongoing set of principles and best practices intended to demystify, improve, and advance community projects. Because this is a wiki, you can add your own tips and experiences to this ongoing, growing handbook.

Project manager role

At the heart of the handbook are two main sections: one for project managers, and one for volunteers. You'll notice that the instruction for project managers appears before the instruction for volunteers. There's a purpose behind this arrangement. The number one reason community projects fail is not due to lack of volunteer resources or talent. A project's failure or success depends on how the project manager guides the project and volunteer efforts.

To be successful, project managers need to understand the dynamics of managing remotely located, part-time volunteers with varying interests, backgrounds, and schedules. As such, the rules for managing community projects differ significantly from managing internal projects with on-site, paid employees. Hence the justification for this guide.

Volunteer role

Likewise, volunteers also need to understand the dynamics of community projects. Too many projects stagnate with volunteers who join and wait to be engaged. While project managers should reach out and welcome new volunteers, recognize that the more hand-holding and guidance you need, the more management overhead your participation requires.

At some point, if the management overhead is too high, project managers begin to question the value of the community effort. Therefore it is critical that volunteers be proactive, self-guiding, and willing to step up even when not specifically directed to do so. Most projects should have ample information on their wiki pages and a list of items to tackle in JIRA. Don't wait for an invitation—jump in and act.

Variations and flexibility

We recognize that not all projects are run the same way, of course. Some projects may not rely on many of these principles. Others, such as testing projects, which have hundreds of volunteers, will not find it practical to reach out and individually welcome new volunteers.

Even so, these principles and guidelines apply generally and will help you be successful with your community endeavors. As you learn how to better manage your projects, please share what works for you so that others—both project managers and volunteers—can benefit.