If you were to ask me to give you - in a microcosm - an example of what continues to inspire me about FrontlineSMS, it would be this.
On Sunday morning I woke, and checked in with the Forum. Okay, it was a weekend but we try to be there for our user-base - which these days is truly global - as much of the time as is possible. (The recent appointment of two FrontlineSMS:Heroes - power users, in other words - to provide additional cover when we're not always around, is testament to this). I saw a post from Stephen Sowa which didn't require too much thought - FrontlineSMS doesn't yet do what he wanted - but there was something he could try. After a couple of minutes responding I then had breakfast, did some gardening and spring cleaning, and got on with the day.
Later in the afternoon, during a break from mowing the lawn, I quickly checked into the Forum again and Stephen had successfully set up the three FrontlineSMS systems he needed for his training this week. A result all round.
A number of things motivate me about all this:
- Stephen found his way to our software, identified it's potential, read it up and downloaded it.
- Stephen successfully installed it, without help, on three separate machines.
- Stephen didn't need us for any of that, but when he did we had a fully open online Forum available where he could look for answers and post his question.
- After giving Stephen a bit of advice, he managed to figure out the rest for himself.
Okay, not all technical support turns out this well this quickly and this easily, and not all users have the technical skills Stephen clearly has, but what happened here represents everything that motivates me about FrontlineSMS. Engaged, motivated users, driving their own projects with full local ownership and us in a support role, as and when needed, if at all. It might not be how most m4d projects are run, but it's a process and approach I continue to believe in.