Sixth OSSC meeting of 2022

Dear community,

Tomorrow is our last OSSC meeting of 2022. We’ll walk you quickly through where we’ve come with Lightning and what’s next (moving to Beta in January) but there are two major discussions that we’d really appreciate your thoughts on and I wanted to prepare you for those conversations today.

One: What is OpenFn Lightning?

An OpenFn supporter recently made a referral to a prospective open-source funder and described us as “one of three DPGs targeting interoperability”. (OpenHIM and Instant OpenHIE were the other two.) Because those three DPGs do such different things, and because we’ve also heard confusion between a product like Lightning and data analytics/insights platforms like Zenysis or BAO Analytics, we (at OFG) have been describing Lightning as a workflow automation tool.

Our thinking is this: workflows are the (sometimes complex) business processes that involve making case referrals, sending payments, updating shared health records, or calculating whether or not a health worker’s last visit needs urgent follow-up. We automate the rote steps in these processes. Sometimes those automated workflows include sending messages through OpenHIM. Sometimes they include loading data into a data warehouse for dashboarding with Zenysis.

For tomorrow, how do you talk about what OpenFn Lightning does? How does it differ from other DPGs and corporate tools that also operate in the “interoperability” space?

It’s more than a marketing/brand-identity question for one DPG: we think it’s important to hear your thoughts on this so we can ensure continued complementarity is built into Lightning’s roadmap and so we can strengthen our alignment with other DPGs in the space.

Two: What’s the impact/ROI?

Or, from your perspectives as funders, implementers, and custodians of other DPGs, why is it important to implement Lightning. And why is it important to do so now ?

We’ve prepared a basic “return on investment” calculator that we’re starting to use with existing users and prospective implementers. The idea is to enumerate a set number of workflows that they have (or plan to) automate on OpenFn and then actually model the cost of carrying out those processes by hand. The ROI calculator helps them pick a SaaS plan, scaled appropriately for usage, and then determines the time it takes them to break even and the 1- and 5-year returns on investment that they see in terms of cost savings to their organizations.

While it’s harder to quantify, we also encourage implementers to consider non-monetary costs of inaction. What are the impacts of errors, delays, or security vulnerabilities in these health and humanitarian interventions?

For tomorrow, we’d like you to come to the table ready to engage these questions. How do you, as an implementer, determine whether or not it’s worth undertaking a new technology project? How do you, as a funder, determine which projects to fund and how do you measure the impact of those projects? What are we capturing effectively through our current “ROI Calculator” model? What are we missing that actually matters more to NGOs and governments around the world? Is “by hand” the right counterfactual? What else should we be using?

Thanks in advance. Can’t wait to see you tomorrow.