Mifos User Meeting – a Big Success!

imagesLast week we held our first ever online Mifos user meeting and it was a big success with 44 people from 12 countries in attendance. Despite some hiccups with the logistics of GoToWebinar, the turnout and participation was fantastic.  The mix of people attending was just what we were looking for – existing Mifos users as well as new potential Mifos users, Specialists supporting MFIs implementing Mifos, and contributors strengthening the Mifos platform. We got to hear some detailed feedback from new users like I.Can Capital Microfinance in the Philppines and valuable insight on product architecture from long-time Mifos veterans like Terry Wong, who is still following our project even after volunteering 5 years ago.

It was the perfect time to share what’s been going on, take a closer look at the new features in our most recent releases, and unveil a huge step forward, the Mifos Business Intelligence Suite.  The questions and feedback were invaluable.  We are definitely going to have user webinars like this again and do it more often, covering more topics that you want to learn about. While planning is underway for a global developer summit in India this summer, we’re also looking to potentially host a global Mifos user conference in a year.  We’d love to know if you’d like to attend in the comments.

Check out the presentation below and our 4 main takeaways from the meeting after the jump!

4 Take-aways

Looking back the user meeting, there were four big take-aways:

Show what we’re building.

Our product team is doing a lot of great work and shipping a ton of new functionality. You, our community,ppi
need to understand and see how that technology works. We showed some screenshots and did a live demo during the user meeting but we need to be more visual and demonstrative about what’s new in the product. It’s easy to read over a list of features and not fully grasp the power of what’s inside and what you can do with Mifos. With Questions Groups, we’ve really opened up the potential to collect rich data and information about your clients; we now have integrated social performance measurement through PPI, and our M-PESA integration is coming just in time as Safaricom looks to roll this out across Africa. Business Intelligence is a major focus for the product going forward; our Mifos Business Intelligence Suite 1.0 is only just the tip of the iceberg. The demo we gave prompted a lot of questions and we’ll soon share more about the new standard reports, the data warehouse, and the exciting capabilities of Pentaho like dashboards and ad-hoc reporting that are on the horizon.

Listen to what you need.

listenDuring the user meeting, we were overwhelmed with questions and feedback across all subject areas. From mobile data entry to accounting integration to offline capabilities to Know Your Customer requirements for India, you had great feedback about where you want the product to go. We really need to listen to what our users need and be agile in building out the product to respond promptly to evolving market conditions. The refactoring of the code into a more modular framework is positioning us to release new features faster. A more layered architecture and framework for plug-ins also means that you, external contributors, can build new functionality more quickly as well. It’s only through a combination of listening, capturing feedback, and a platform that enables our team to develop quickly and external developers to work effectively, that we can evolve our product to keep pace with the microfinance sector. We’re working to build out better mechanisms to capture feedback but for now, read this page on requesting new features and stay tuned to our roadmap for updates.

Get technical.

During the user meeting, we also had a lot of questions about using the product, configuring the product, andhelp
customizing the product. We encourage you to voice these questions on our developer and user mailing lists. There you can get a quick response from our team or any one of our worldiwde users or contributors in the Mifos community. We also have great documentation. Technical and systems admininstration documentation is on our wiki on MifosForge. User documentation and how to configure the product is on mifos.org. Processes and tools for deploying mifos can be found  in our deployment toolkit along with live case studies in our deployment project pages.  If you can’t what you’re looking for, let us know how we can make it more accessible or what you want to see. With that said, you can only get so much help online or through email and nothing beats talking through a problem with a real human being. We’ll try to have more of these user webinars covering different topics based on your feedback – some will be more technical, others more strategic and business-focused.

Share what you’re doing.

Picture Downloas 2.6.10 136From the sheer number of people who were on the call to the growing number of deployments, there’s alot of activity going on in the Mifos community. Unfortunately, most of you probably don’t know about it. During the user meeting, Nayan from Conflux Technologies in India gave an impromptu demonstration of the Offline Collection Sheet Entry module he was building.  It was moving to see how impressed and gracious Duffy, representing Lumana in Ghana, was after learning about this new discovery and connection in the community. For the community to grow, it needs to be aware of this activity; we need to build these connections, which will increase the sense of community and in turn enable more collaboration. If you haven’t, check out some of the social features on mifos.org like our regional user groups and user profiles that we’re using to build community. For the latest news, follow @mifos on twitter, subscribe to this newslog and sign up for our newsletter. We’re also ramping up our presence on other sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Here’s just a small snapshot of some recent community activity:

Listen photo courtesy of ky_olsen via Flickr | Question photo courtesy of matt.hutchinson via Flickr.

Leila E Translations – the Final Push!

halfdomeCode freeze for Leila E has come and gone but we’re still not finished with our translations. We need to have all our translations completed.  Help us ship Mifos with versions for French, Spanish, Chinese, and Portuguese.

Our Translation Sprint two weeks ago provided a great spurt and needed boost to our efforts.  Thanks to all the members of the Translatewiki.net and Mifos communities for participating. We had over 1000 messages translated that weekend and more than 3500 messages translated in total since. We’ve also yielded some good traction on new languages like Bengali, Burmese, Tegulu, Tagalog, Interlingua, German, Breton, Norwegian, Macedonian, and Dutch.
Read more

GSOC Mentor Summit 2010

For the second year, Adam Monsen and I attended the Google Summer of Code 2010 Mentor Summit. This year’s summit was held on October 23 and 24, at Google Headquarters.

We knew more what to expect this year, and maybe that’s why I felt I even got more out of this year’s meetings. Last year, I kind of stood back and attended a few of the sessions I was interested in. This year, in addition to attending some cool sessions, I hosted two sessions:  “GSOC in Africa” (http://openetherpad.org/gsoc-in-africa), and “Audio and Video for Distributed Teams” (http://openetherpad.org/AudioVideoDistributedTeams) .

Read more

Summer of Code 2010 – A Journey Well-Traveled

In this post, we want to take the opportunity to thank our 2010 Google Summer of Code interns for dedicating their summers to helping end poverty.

2010_300x267px When summer comes around, the Mifos team looks forward to an energetic group of Google Summer of Code interns who are ready to dive into our project and help us push towards our vision of 3 Billion Maries.

This summer was no different as we had five interns hard at work, helping us transition the Mifos platform to its next generation architecture. From the back-end to the front-end, the contributions of our interns will bring forth a more robust product to our customers and a platform that is much quicker, lightweight, and easier for our contributors to build on.

Read more

Adam Feuer Interviewed by PayPal X Developer Network

Mifos Director of Engineering, Adam Feuer discusses our goal to end poverty, and software’s place in achieving that goal.

20100809_article.mifos_.interview.photo_.Adam-FeuerRecently, Adam Feuer, had the chance to sit down with Matthew Russell of the PayPal X Developer Network for a casual conversation discussing Mifos and how developers around the world can work towards ending poverty by contributing to our software.

Visit the PayPal X site for an edited transcript of the interview or listen to the full conversation in this .mp3 file.

Adam covers a wide range of topics including:

Read more

Uncovering the DNA of a Great Team

Mifos & ThoughtWorks teams discover the keys to successful global collaboration.

bootcamp_art_2Recently the Tech for Microfinance team has been going through the McCarthy Bootcamp, a teamwork laboratory, to help bring our team into alignment and closer to greatness. BootCamp is transforming us into a high-performance team, fully aligned around a shared vision so we can ship a great Mifos product faster to our customers.

Thus far, our team has completed two BootCamps; one with our US-based staff and then a second follow-on BootCamp with our software engineers and professional services staff from around the world. This past May we held our 3rd BootCamp with the newest member of the team Joe McNulty, and four participants from our newest strategic technology partner, ThoughtWorks. Bringing together the ThoughtWorks team from Bangalore with our Seattle staff we aimed to form a strong team that would eliminate the time zone and geographical distances. The following is a highlight of their achievements throughout their 3 day BootCamp:

Read more

Meet the 2010 Google Summer of Code Mifos Interns

This year we’re excited to announce a class of 7 rock star Google Summer of Code interns who will be part of the Mifos team this summer. In now our second year participating in Google Summer of Code, we look to build off the successes of Udai Gupta and Johan Hilding, last year’s interns, by taking on a larger team that will help us to bring participation to a new level.

Our 7 students from around the world bring a diverse set of skills, interests, and perspectives that will help to extend the Mifos platform. Once again we had an incredibly impressive pool of applicants making it difficult to narrow them down to this group. We’d like to thank all for applying and the dedication you’ve shown in wanting to help end poverty through writing code.

Read more

End Poverty. One Line of Code at a Time.

UPDATE: 2010 Google Summer of Code Students Announced

Seven students have been accepted for Mifos projects this year. Join us in wishing them the best of luck this upcoming summer.

Visit the Google Summer of Code Website to see a listing and map of our accepted students and where they’ll be contributing from. Click here to see the full list of more than 600 accepted students participating in this year’s Summer of Code.

We had an overwhelming number of extremely qualified applicants with stellar proposals so it was a very selective process this year. To all those who applied and weren’t selected, we encourage you to apply again in the future and welcome your contributions to our community if there’s a volunteer project or other way you’d like to get involved. We’re always in need of others to help us build technology to fight poverty!
Read more

Mifos FLOSS User Manual Sprint

Want to help fight poverty? Grameen Foundation is updating the user manual for its Mifos software, an open source management information system (MIS) that helps microfinance institutions more efficiently deliver loans and other financial services to poor women around the world. The actual content of the new user manual is almost complete but there’s tons to do to get it published in FLOSS Manuals. We need your help! This one-day sprint will be dedicated towards formatting, proofreading, and standardizing the text towards agreed-upon writing conventions. Read on to learn more!

Read more

Building a Local Technology Ecosystem

This is a follow-on post to our original post on the widespread reach of open source community back on November 11, 2009.

In that post we explored the participation that open source community enables by allowing our customers, support providers, and technology developers all to communicate in one place to advance a common vision. This time, we’d like to highlight another powerful force that our open source platform and community enables: a local technology ecosystem of Mifos Specialists who can build a market-driven business bringing our software platform to microfinance institutions, implementing and supporting Mifos, and extending it to fit their unique and specific needs.

Read more