Open Atrium has been used as a collaborative platform by a variety of organizations throughout its existence. However, certain use cases of this incredibly flexible tool have always appealed to the mélange of mission based organizations that employ Open Atrium for their needs. Whether this be project management, volunteer relations, document storage and sharing, or community engagement - Open Atrium has got nonprofits’ back.
With that in mind, Phase2 brought together James Carlson of Bucket Brigade, Dan Adams of Layton Boulevard West Neighborhoods, and our own Karen Borchert to discuss what Open Atrium 2.0 will bring to the table for nonprofits via a webinar this past Tuesday, June 25, 2013. As the session progressed, it became clear there were a few things our nonprofit friends were most excited for and we wanted to share those with you today.
1. Segmentation of Users Through Spaces, Sections, Groups & Teams
When planning for Open Atrium 2.0, the development team wanted to empower users to organize their content and community precisely to fit their needs. From this came the creation of spaces, sections, groups, and teams. Utilizing this taxonomy, the administrator of a space can organize content into various sections and subsections and give access to this content to any combination of groups, teams, or users.
Making this functionality a breeze enables nonprofits’ like Dan’s to better engage their community and partners with their efforts. Creating a way to segment content all the way from a huge group of users down to a particular individual makes it incredibly easy to share information, knowledge, and tactics to achieve the mission of the organization. Communication is key for effective collaboration and Open Atrium enables nonprofits to share information openly. Just ask James - he’s had volunteers show up at his door, pre-prepared with a list of things to help out with, just by making the tasks to accomplish on a project available for the community to access. No extra effort required.
2. Access Control & Privacy Level Visibility
While all of this knowledge sharing may sound great, the immediate question is - what happens to the more confidential information? This is something the Open Atrium 2.0 team tackled head on. With each space, section, or piece of content a user creates, they have the ability to determine exactly what groups, teams, or users can access and view that content. The follow controls appear to allow a user determine who has access to the content:
Once these permissions have been set, a visual indicator will appear for users so they know whether or not their content is public or private.
Security settings and access controls allow mission based organizations to fully engage their external collaborators. As James aptly stated, “the wave of the future for nonprofit organizations is partnerships and collaboration with outside organizations and multilateral initiatives.” When nonprofits have the ability to bring groups of collaborators together and share information, all while appropriately partitioning it according to transparency and privacy needs, they can greatly increase their capabilities to accomplish their goals. This is especially true when it comes to keeping funders in the loop. Being able to grant access to the information funders need regarding the progress made on projects they’ve invested in and measurement of these projects’ success increases transparency that allows for additional funding in the future.
3. Customizable Layout & Theme
While there are a number of needs that all nonprofits have in common, every mission based organization is slightly different. Open Atrium 2.0 was designed with this fact in mind and is completely customizable to any organization out of the box. Built with Panopoly, Open Atrium 2.0 is meant to be modular, which allows an organization to pick and choose the functionality they need to build a system suited specifically for their needs.
This level of flexibility is incredibly attractive to many mission based organizations and was one of the primary reasons Dan decided to utilize Open Atrium. Choosing software that can change and scale with not only your organization, but the social collaboration space as a whole is key to keeping down costs.
Very few nonprofits have the luxury of changing software options each year as their organization continues to grow. However, Open Atrium solves this problem because a user is capable of altering and recreating the system as they need to. This is feasible because with Open Atrium, users aren’t locked into a proprietary system and nothing is prohibitively expensive to change - in fact, it’s actually free straight out of the box!
4. Benefits of Community Development
Which brings us to our next point. There are intrinsic benefits attached to using open source software within any organization. The fact that your organization can draw knowledge and development from a pool of thousands of programmers, as opposed to a select few that make proprietary software, fuels the interdependence within the open source community that creates benefits for everyone involved.
Case in point is the contribution of the Work Tracker back to the Open Atrium 2.0 community by James’s company, Bucket Brigade. A spin off of the incredibly popular Case Tracker used in Open Atrium 1.0, a team of developers at Bucket Brigade took it upon themselves to help get the ball rolling on a new version for 2.0. Without that inherent flexibility and freedom to develop, an organization would be stuck waiting for the next iteration on a road map of proprietary software that they likely couldn’t customize anyway.
5. Flexible Plugin Framework with Apps to Come
Last, but by no means least, is the way Open Atrium 2.0 was built. With a pluggable, apps-based framework in mind, long over are the days of bloated distributions that require extensive work and dev time to trim down the software to an organization’s specific needs. With a Panopoly core, Open Atrium 2.0 is poised to create an app store that allows users to pick and choose the functionality they need for their Open Atrium 2.0 site with incredible ease.
So there you have it: If you’re looking for a flexible, collaborative platform that can grow with your organization, keep costs down, engage your community, provide controlled transparency, and be fully customized to your needs, Open Atrium 2.0 may be just the ticket for you. Why not take it for a spin?
Just as excited as we are for Open Atrium 2.0? Register for the Beta release webinar coming up on July 12, 2013 today!