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The Apache Way Contribute ASF Sponsors

This was extracted (@ 2018-05-24 21:10) from a list of minutes which have been approved by the Board.
Please Note The Board typically approves the minutes of the previous meeting at the beginning of every Board meeting; therefore, the list below does not normally contain details from the minutes of the most recent Board meeting.

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5-Year Strategic Plan for the Apache Software Foundation

21 Feb 2018

 Vision

 Our mission is to support the creation and distribution of Open Source
 software at no charge under the Apache License, as per our Bylaws. To
 this end we provide project spaces and resources for like-minded
 communities to flourish, produce and release software under our legal
 umbrella.

 We are strongly attached to our projects' independence from any external
 influences, be they corporate, organizational or otherwise. This allows
 us to provide a neutral space for our communities.

 As a Foundation we do not have a technical strategy, we delegate that to
 our projects.

 The Foundation is managed and directed by its Members, who are
 individual volunteers, as opposed to companies or organizations, who
 cannot be Members of the Foundation nor take a direct role in our
 projects.

 We help our communities understand and practice the Apache Way, a
 collection of best practices for collaboration and project
 sustainability that we document and clarify on an ongoing basis.

 Our community members act as individuals and their rights and
 responsibilities are based their merit, defined by what they
 individually do in project communities, not on any external affiliation,
 title, or degree they may have, nor on their contributions to other
 projects or organizations.

 We provide very reliable and highly automated core infrastructure
 services to our projects and encourage them to use some external
 non-core services in addition to that, based on their specific needs,
 when that helps keep our own services simple and focused. For
 durability, all our critical data and services are managed or mirrored
 on systems that we fully control.

 Our marketing and outreach is focused on activities that directly
 support our mission, along with fundraising-related activities that help
 find and retain the sponsors on which our operations depend.

 We provide legal and brand management services to our projects based on
 demonstrated needs, and define branding guidelines to help our projects
 benefit from the strong Apache brand in an appropriate way.

 We welcome new projects via our Incubator, where experienced Mentors
 help them learn to operate as an Apache community and project.
 Incubation is where communities are defined, so we put a strong emphasis
 on guidance during the incubation phase to preserve our core values as
 the Foundation grows.

 Objectives

 1. Ensure that the services that the ASF offers to project communities
    are clearly defined and can be reliably delivered in a manner that
    meets their expectations.

 2. Improve our success for identifying, attracting, welcoming and
    developing “like-minded communities” that will be successful at the
    ASF.

 3. Effectively scale our operations and governance processes in such a
    way that the ASF continues to be a light-process, light-governance,
    largely decentralized organization whose central operations serve
    projects in a manner consistent with the way PMCs are expected to
    serve their communities.

 4. Ensure the financial soundness of the ASF over the term of the plan
    and establish the foundation for long-term stability.

 ASF Services - Infrastructure

 The ASF currently provides infrastructure services to project
 communities including mailing list, website and scm hosting, Issue
 trackers and a range of build and deployment tools.  Many projects now
 use GitHub and other “external” providers for some of these services.
 Infrastructure services overall account for more than 80% of the total
 ASF expense budget.  Increasingly, project communities have
 infrastructure requirements that strain the capabilities of the ASF.  We
 have, broadly speaking, three choices on how to plan the evolution of
 ASF infrastructure services:

 1. Limit incoming project communities to those with needs that we can
    already service and plan using a simple growth forecast.

 2. Provision for the demands of projects with unusually large needs and
    increase budget forecasts accordingly.

 3. Encourage more use of externally provided services by project
    communities.

 We believe that 3. Is the best option, using a simple growth forecast to
 project expenses and effective governance and mentoring to ensure that
 using externally provided services does not in any way present barriers
 to entry to projects or reduce transparency, inclusiveness and diversity
 in project decision-making.  This requires that we make clear to project
 communities the limitations of the services that they can expect from
 the ASF and support and enable them to secure necessary infrastructure
 support externally.  We must also ensure that policies and practices for
 using external services do not result in any loss of independence,
 transparency or inclusiveness among ASF project communities.  The ASF
 Directed Sponsorship program should be considered as a first option for
 projects in need of support beyond what ASF infrastructure provides.
 From an infrastructure budget planning perspective, this means that we
 can use conservative forecasts, based on simple project-count based
 models.  Moreover, we do not believe that limiting infrastructure
 expense growth should be a consideration in our strategy for managing
 inflow into the Incubator.  In other words, we do not intend to use
 Incubator inflow limitation as a strategy for infrastructure cost
 management.

 ASF Services - Marketing, Publicity and Brand Management

 Services in this category are provided both at the foundation level and
 to individual projects. To date, our focus has been primarily on
 effectively responding to queries and press events, managing our ASF
 public presence and supporting projects communities in promoting
 achievements and events.  We can expect the demand for these currently
 provided services to scale over the next 5 years commensurately with the
 growth in projects.

 A challenge that has been identified as critical to our plan is the need
 to ensure that the communities that we attract and welcome into the ASF
 really are “like-minded” in the sense that they contribute positively to
 the evolution of the Apache Way.  There are two things that we should
 plan to do to improve the effectiveness of community marketing and
 development at the ASF:

 1.  Move from a mostly passive, “see what comes our way” approach to
     project community marketing to a more proactive and strategic
     approach Move to a selective intake model
 2.  Improve training and communication on the Apache Way

 These items will require marketing and publicity resources beyond what
 we have in place today.  In addition to continuing strong contribution
 by volunteers,  we should plan, therefore, to increase our investment in
 ASF marketing and communications.  Both of these items will also require
 more focus from the Board and the ASF membership on developing our
 outreach, selection and mentoring practices.

 ASF Services - Conferences and Community Development

 The ASF has traditionally held annual conferences, often on multiple
 continents.  We believe that these conferences contribute to our mission
 in (at least) two ways.  First, they provide a venue for ASF volunteers
 to meet face-to-face.  In some cases, this is the only venue in which
 ASF volunteers get to meet one another in person.  Secondly, conferences
 can be used to generate interest in Apache project communities.  ASF
 conferences have had two operational challenges.  First, they have
 generally lost money in recent years.  This has contributed to the
 second challenge, which is that it is difficult if not impossible to run
 high-quality conferences using all volunteer resources.  To put it
 simply, if the conferences made money, commercial providers would run
 them for us.  They do not make money.

 We plan to run an experiment in 2018, using ASF funds to remove the
 profitability constraint from ASF conferences.  If this experiment is
 successful, we may agree on an annual subsidy that VP, Conferences can
 plan to use to make up the difference between what ASF conferences cost
 to produce and the revenue that they generate.

 ASF-level conferences are not the only events that our communities use
 to collaborate in-person.  We believe that individual or group
 project-level events also contribute to our mission and we should
 support them.  In some cases, project communities ask for and receive
 support from commercial entities for project events.  We want to
 encourage this type of support and we want the process for enabling it
 to be as simple and easy as possible for both the communities and the
 sponsoring organizations.  Given that not all project communities will
 be able to find the funds for events that will benefit them, we will
 agree on an annual budget to cover project-specific community
 development initiatives.  That budget will be administered by the
 Community Development PMC.

 ASF Services - Legal

 ASF is fortunate to have pro bono legal counsel available that meets
 most of our legal advice and representation needs.  The exception to
 this is trademarks-related costs, which we are no longer able to acquire
 as a pro bono service.  We need, therefore, to develop a strategy and
 budget for this expense.

 ASF Processes - PMC lifecycle

 We believe that the processes for onboarding new communities via the
 Incubator (or direct to TLP) channels are fit for purpose and can
 continue to scale.  We also believe that the core oversight processes
 for operating PMCs can continue to serve the needs of the foundation
 over at least the next five years.  Finally, we believe that the Attic
 provides an effective means for retiring no longer viable projects.  In
 each of these cases, however, we hope to make significant progress over
 the next 5 years improving our implementation and execution (without
 necessarily introducing new PMC lifecycle phases or governance
 processes).  Specifically, we hope to:

 1. Improve the community mentoring and understanding of Apache Way
    processes during the incubation process

 2. Improve the success rate for podlings entering the Incubator.  Here
    “success” means timely graduation and evolution to become healthy
    TLPs. We would like to reduce the time podlings spend in the
    Incubator, as much as possible. Either by graduating them quickly, if
    they are found to be a good fit for the ASF, or by failing them
    quickly if they're not a good fit.

 3. Reduce the need for Board intervention in PMC affairs

 As the ASF scales, the ability for the Board and members with long
 experience to engage with Incubator podlings and TLPs is becoming an
 effective growth rate limiter.  We need to either reduce the growth
 rate, increase the speed with which new members can become effective
 mentors, or improve processes and built-in controls so that the
 objectives above are achieved without depending on increased ad hoc
 interventions.  Our aim is actually to decrease the need for
 intervention in communities by ASF members not already substantively
 engaged in those communities.

 Our planning assumption is that the rate of new projects entering the
 Incubator will continue to grow according to the trend of the last three
 years.  We do not expect the percentage of initial inquiries that lead
 to entering podlings to decrease, but we hope to improve the
 effectiveness of the outreach, intake and incubation processes.  In
 other words, our aim is not to be “more rigorous” in allowing podlings
 into the Incubator, but rather to get a more-likely-to-succeed mix
 entering the funnel and improving mentoring and access to resources for
 podlings.  We do not intend to artificially throttle the flow into or
 out of the Incubator, but we will focus on improving mentoring and the
 availability of active and engaged mentors is likely to become a
 constraint to the growth rate.  Regarding outreach, we believe that
 investments in planned and structured marketing to help attract good
 prospective communities is important and our intention is to make these
 investments.


 ASF Processes - Governance

 As the ASF scales, our flat, direct-oversight governance model will
 continue to face challenges.  Over the next 5 years, we expect to need
 to make some changes in how governance works, but our goal is to, as
 much as possible, hold onto the basic model that exists today wherein
 the only recognized organizational entities are PMCs, the Board, the
 Membership, committers, the Officers and committees responsible for ASF
 operations.  In other words, we do not intend to insert organizational
 layers such as groups of PMCs or different levels among Directors or
 within the membership.  We will continue to encourage TLPs that verge on
 becoming “umbrellas” to split into multiple projects so that PMC members
 can be expected to provide oversight to full project communities.

 We expect the PMC reporting schedule to scale manageably over the next 5
 years.  The Board currently reviews approximately 80 reports per month
 today and we expect that number to grow to approximately 100 by 2023.
 Reviewing such a large number of reports may become difficult for
 Directors and the amount of time taken in monthly meetings to give
 attention to reports needing attention will become challenging.  We
 believe that we are already facing challenges giving sufficient time and
 Director attention to strategic topics.  We have been able to scale to
 our current TLP count through innovations such as the rotation schedule
 itself, the Whimsy agenda management tool, the shepherd model and
 improvements in the reports themselves.  We are going to need to develop
 additional innovations to enable us to continue to scale while providing
 strong oversight and foundation-level governance.  Our plan is to focus
 on process and tooling innovations to enable us to continue to scale,
 rather than inserting layers or detaching the board from project-level
 oversight.  In addition, we hope to improve cohesion and consistency
 among the Board and the membership in applying Apache Way principles to
 practical problems.  Better definition of the principles, illustrated in
 examples, will need to be developed to support this objective.

 The relationship between the Board and the Officers and Committees
 responsible for ASF operations needs to continue to evolve from direct,
 sometimes ambiguous, management to strategic direction, oversight and
 approval of actions requiring approval by the Board.  We have made
 progress recently getting roles and responsibilities better defined, but
 we still have work to do in this area.  Over the next 5 years, we expect
 to develop a Board - Officers operating model that is as well-defined as
 the Board - PMC model in place today (which will itself evolve and
 improve).  Similarly to the model with PMC Chairs, our objective is for
 the Board to provide high-level oversight but to delegate operational
 responsibilities to Officers.

 The relationship between the Board, PMCs and ASF officers responsible
 for security, brand management and trademarks needs to be better defined
 and managed.  In some cases, VPs responsible for these areas are
 empowered to make demands of PMCs on behalf of the foundation.  We have
 not been sufficiently clear what the scope and bounds of this authority
 are.  We will address this ambiguity in 2018 and improve the model over
 the next 5 years.  As a guiding principle, our objective is to
 communicate (and take input on) PMC requirements effectively so that the
 need for Officer intervention is rare.  Moreover, we aim to limit the
 requirements themselves to the minimum necessary to ensure that the core
 interests of the PMCs and the Foundation are protected.

 To promote healthy inflow of new ideas and connection with project
 communities, we will also explore means to ensure that more members have
 the opportunity to serve in Director and Officer roles.

 ASF Budget and Finance - Finance operations

 The ASF has effectively outsourced core financial operations to an
 organization management firm.  This has been a key element in our
 ability to manage our growth and improve the quality and comprehension
 of our financial controls and reporting without taking on paid staff to
 manage these functions.  The Treasurer role, which had become
 intractable for a volunteer to execute responsibly, has now become an
 oversight role that is being effectively managed by volunteers
 (Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer).  We do not anticipate the need to
 change this arrangement over the next five years.

 ASF Budget and Finance - Financial Analysis and Planning

 The rigor and regularity of ASF financial planning and analysis
 activities is improving and over the next 5 years, we expect to evolve a
 set of leading and durable practices.  Currently, we have annual
 processes to determine the coming year’s budget and to update the 5-year
 outlook.  We will continue both of these practices.  Focus for the next
 year (2018) will be ensuring strategic alignment between both the
 financial plan and the goals and priorities of the Foundation.  The 2018
 budget will conform overall to the 5-year plan in this document, but
 lines may be modified to reflect consensus on priorities discussions
 among the membership.  Revision of the 5-year plan will begin
 immediately following finalization of the 2018 budget and this cadence
 will continue over the next five years with improvements each year in
 proactive planning and discussion so that the budget and 5-year plan
 update processes are less about tactical tradeoffs and debates over
 individual lines and more about officer analysis and discretion applied
 to make practical decisions consistent with agreed upon strategies.
 Starting in 2018, we will also introduce a quarterly financial review,
 which will extend and deepen the analysis included in monthly
 Treasurer’s reports.  This review will be open to the membership and
 executed asynchronously.

 ASF Budget and Finance - Fundraising

 The financial plan presented below shows an increase from the 2017
 expense budget of $1.2MM  to $2.3MM in 2023.  This presents a big
 challenge for ASF fundraising.  At the same time, the role, VP
 Fundraising, is becoming difficult for a single volunteer to handle.
 Outsourcing fundraising operations to our organization management
 partner has helped but it is hard to see the current model as
 sustainable and capable of meeting the increased demands that we
 anticipate over the next 5 years.  Therefore, we are planning to invest
 significantly over the next 5 years in fundraising assistance.  This
 assistance will take one or more of the following three forms:

 1. Additional services provided by our organization management partner

 2. Addition of paid fundraising staff

 3. Engagement of a partner specializing in fundraising

 In 2018, our focus will be on exploring the first option and expanding
 the leverage of Board members and other members in fundraising
 activities.  If by year-end 2018, we are meeting or exceeding
 fundraising goals and VP, Fundraising has become a volunteer-manageable
 position, we will limit any additional investment to 1. along with
 marketing / communications in support of fundraising activities.  If by
 mid-year 2018, we have not achieved the current budget plan and / or the
 challenges have become intractable, we will begin exploration of options
 2. and 3.

 In 2017, we made good progress getting better definition on practical
 and legal aspects of the sponsorship program.  We arrived at a set of
 sponsor benefits that accurately reflect what the ASF can currently
 provide and what different sponsorship levels entitle sponsors to.  We
 believe that in order to significantly expand the potential sponsor base
 and to ensure consistent renewals, we need to define some more
 compelling benefits for ASF sponsors.  Several ideas have been discussed
 in this area, but we have yet to achieve consensus on specific
 improvements.  Defining and implementing these improvements will be a
 key focus for us over the next several years.   At a minimum, we will
 formally review and consider modifications to the program as part of the
 strategic plan refresh each year.

 In 2017, we began a partnership with a company providing digital and
 payment processing services to promote and manage individual donations.
 This partnership has been successful.  Most importantly, we have the
 beginnings of an individual donor relationship management system.  We
 expect that as our donor base grows and we better manage communications
 with individual donors, we will be able to grow individual contributions
 at a rate equal to or exceeding the growth in revenue from the
 sponsorship program.  This will require continued focus on ASF marketing
 and communications and effective outreach and management of individual
 donor relationships.   In 2017, we executed one fundraising drive aimed
 at soliciting individual contributions.  In 2018, we will do this at
 least twice and in subsequent  years, we will increase the frequency
 contacts with existing and prospective individual donors, leveraging our
 marketing, fundraising and finance operations partners to plan and
 execute campaigns.

 ASF Budget and Finance - External Partnerships

 We considered a proposal in 2017 to form a revenue-generating joint
 venture, managed via a separate legal entity.  The proposal was to
 partner with a commercial company to produce ASF-certified training
 materials, with a portion of the revenue returned to the ASF.  The Board
 rejected this proposal.  It is important to note, however, that we did
 not conclude that no commercial partnership returning revenue to the ASF
 could ever be approved.  The proposal was rejected because it would in
 our estimation make misleading use of ASF brands and also “pick winners”
 inconsistently with our principles.  We hope to consider alternative
 proposals to fairly, honestly and consistently with our principles raise
 revenue for the ASF.  As noted above, conferences have not been a source
 of positive income for us in the recent past, but they are an example of
 a commercial activity that can be done consistently with our principles.
 We hope to define at least one new revenue stream resulting from
 commercially valuable activities that contribute to our mission over the
 next five years.  The current 5-year financial plan does not include any
 revenue projections from these activities.

 ASF Budget and Finance - 5-year Financial Plan

 Details (with updated numbers) of the 5-year financial plan are
 presented below.  In aggregate, we expect expenses to grow from $1.42MM
 in FY 2018 to $2.2MM in FY 2023.  Income is projected to grow from
 $1.23MM to $1.91MM over the same period.  This will result in our
 FY18 cash reserve of $1.77MM being reduced to $1.16MM by the end of
 FY 2023. The plan, as currently formulated also does not include the
 increments in funding suggested above for Community Development, nor
 does it separate a legal defense reserve.

 Budget lines currently forecast to have the largest increases are
 fundraising (515% increase) brand (152%), and publicity (113%).  The
 largest component of our expense base, infrastructure, is forecast to
 increase by only 34%.  The increase in fundraising is justified by the
 commensurate forecasted increase in income from donations, which is
 currently forecast at 57%.  In absolute terms, the fundraising increment
 is $237k per year, which is expected to return (a portion of) the
 forecasted increase of $690k per year in total donations.  We should be
 able to improve that ratio.