Advice for project bids

by , Ross Gardler Steve Lee and Elizabeth Tatham on 3 August 2009 , last updated


Consulting OSS Watch during bid preparation

Many funding bodies now stipulate that the outputs from projects are released under a suitably open licence; an example of this is the Jisc open source policy. In other cases, projects need to provide information about their strategy for managing intellectual property, and also to undertake appropriate actions to support exploitation and sustainability.

OSS Watch can help software-related projects address these sorts of requirements in their bids, and will consider not only how outputs should be released, but also advise on how the open development approach to software sustainability could apply to their project.

Whether a funder requires it or not, having an effective approach to managing intellectual property and achieving sustainability makes a significant difference to the impact and success of a project.

The following document describes the services that OSS Watch can offer to help projects address such requirements, both at bid-preparation stage and during the life of the project.


The requirement that project outputs be released in this way stems largely from funding bodies’ concerns over the sustainability and re-usability of software outputs and other assets. Accordingly, they assert that in most cases software should be licensed as open source, and other outputs, such as documents or media, as open content.

Furthermore, most funding bodies’ policies state that projects should operate their software development in an open and accessible way throughout the project, rather than simply dumping code with an open source licence on it at the end of the project. OSS Watch, therefore, also helps projects to understand what open development is and how to plan for it at proposal stage.

Funding bodies often also require projects to present a plan for sustainability in their bid proposal. We recommend that projects consult with us at this stage because, while the typical approach to sustainability is to simply apply for further funding, OSS Watch can help explore alternative sustainability routes for the software outputs, such as those that can be obtained through a diverse community of users and developers. OSS Watch helps bidders to understand what these sustainability options are and which might be appropriate to their project; it also provides several other services that projects may find useful, both prior to making a bid and once the project is active.

When engaging OSS Watch, it is important that we ensure we can make our resources available during the phases of the project you require. To ensure this is the case, you should consider formally including OSS Watch in your proposal. OSS Watch can help you work out the appropriate resources to allocate to us for the services you require.

OSS Watch support during bid-writing

As a starting point, we suggest that you send us an early version of your project proposal. As long as your main objectives and approaches are clear, we are happy to help with proposals that are still a work in progress; in fact, the earlier you submit your proposal, the more help we can provide. At this stage, a member of the OSS Watch team will be assigned to work with you on your proposal.

Sometimes, we receive a number of related bids that we believe would benefit from collaboration at bid stage, and are able to introduce proposed projects to one another. The earlier such introductions are made, the better the opportunity for linking proposals in a manageable way. Of course, we do not discuss your proposal with any third parties without clearing this with you first.

In addition to attempting to broker collaboration between proposals, where appropriate, we can provide a number of other services at this stage, including:

  • explaining what open development and open source mean and how they would apply to your project;
  • providing detailed feedback on the software sustainability options for your project, identifying areas for improvement in your bid, suggesting additional material and directing you to relevant OSS Watch documents;
  • identifying existing open source software that may be reused in your project;
  • connecting your project team to other projects already operating in similar areas;
  • suggesting ways in which your project can engage with the wider community.

If you decide to follow an open development model and use an open source licence, we will continue to work with your project team throughout bid preparation, providing the following additional services:

  • advising on suitable licences and exploitation routes for project outputs;
  • providing a paragraph describing your software sustainability options (which is identifiable as coming from OSS Watch and thereby confirms that you have consulted with OSS Watch);
  • assisting with the bid’s budget preparation for appropriate community engagement activities;
  • providing further feedback on the sustainability plan as appropriate.

Sometimes a project’s circumstances may be such that it is not appropriate to adopt an open development model in spite of a funding body’s preferences. However, reaching this position after consulting with OSS Watch provides credible justification for this decision and allows the funding body to consider the request to adopt a licensing model other than open source.

OSS Watch support for active projects

Once the project is under way, OSS Watch will continue to provide support services on request. To ensure that These services include:

  • advising on licensing issues as they arise;
  • answering general queries with respect to open source and open development.

and for those using an open development methodology:

  • checking periodically that the community is operating optimally, and advising accordingly;
  • connecting your project team to other developers working in similar areas;
  • suggesting further ways in which your project can engage with the wider user community;
  • ensuring relevant third parties are aware of your work;

OSS Watch is able to offer additional support to a project on an ongoing basis. This may involve embedding OSS Watch staff into the project. Should your project wish to engage the expertise of OSS Watch in such an ongoing commitment we are happy to consider being written into your proposal formally. This will ensure we have the resources available to work on your project and help making your project a successful open development project. We will, of course, discuss this with you during the writing of your bid, in particular when examining the resources required for community development.

It should be noted that a project does not need to be a software development project to benefit from OSS Watch’s services. If your outputs are relevant to the design and/or use of software, we can look at linking you with appropriate communities. For example, projects may be defining standards for the sharing of data between applications, and we can help to identify test cases and ensure that your project outputs are made available to software development projects likely to benefit from your work.

In conclusion

OSS Watch offers specialist services to projects, which help to strengthen bid submissions by focusing on sustainability at the earliest possible stage. We also seek to help already funded open development projects to remain healthy with respect to community engagement. These services allow the project team to get the most from existing open source software, to develop new software, and to build a diverse community with excellent opportunities for achieving sustainability.

Email us to start benefiting from OSS Watch services. We look forward to hearing about your project.

Further Reading


Related information from OSS Watch