A case study of supply-driven product development

There’s a very clear-headed reflection on the development of the Archivist’s Toolkit in the most recent Code4Lib journal. Challenges in Sustainable Open Source: A Case Study was written by Sibyl Schaefer who worked on the project. She does the kind of brave, objective reflection on the product’s development that isn’t often done in our domain.

It reminded me of the recent post that Lorcan did on the Ithaka report called Sustainability and revenue models for online academic resources PDF where he quotes the report saying

“The absence of focused effort on use, impact, and competition among these types of projects has deep implications for their potential long-term success.”

Lorcan goes on to characterize one of the further sustainability issues

“much project work is supply-driven rather than demand-driven. Project leaders, they suggest, tend to focus on the inherent values of their work rather than on what might be of most importance to their intended users.”

For a comparably brave and objective reflection from a former product manager and current colleague see Ricky Erway’s post on Desperately Seeking Sustainability.