bsoco: BeezNest was founded in 2002. Could you describe your path from start-up to mature company. What does distinguish you from the others on the market nowadays?
Yannick Warnier: Initially, BeezNest was focused on web development and devops activities with Open Source software. I think part of every start-up's process to reach maturity is to identify one thing it's really good at and to make sure people want it. For us, it quickly became clear that e-learning was our thing. Our background allowed us to bring Chamilo on the web market with something more than our competitors: a very attractive and easy-to-use interface, and a very efficient engine that uses less memory and goes faster than any LMS we know of. Of course, Chamilo is also Free Software, so anyone can use it if they want. No questions asked. We consider this our social responsibility part. Most of our users have used other platforms before, so they know what they're doing. These people keep telling us about how much they *love* Chamilo. We've been able to convince about 11M users around the globe to use Chamilo for their learning needs. They are spread over about 26,000 Chamilo installations in 192 countries to date. We receive regular e-mails of support from all over the world. This comforts us into believing that we offer a real added value even though we came very late on the market (in comparison to most other software). Finally we've got a few surprise launches planned for 2016, which will hopefully give us an increased reach and allow us to speed up our development. We have so many ideas, but lack the time to implement them!
bsoco: Could you tell us more about the best practices for a successful project management?
Yannick Warnier: Micro-management, transparency and customer engagement. Each task worked on at BeezNest is registered and updated continuously. The customer can track the progress online and participate when he believes he can add details to the process.
With the advent of Open Source, and BeezNest being a very active Open Source contributor, it is important for us to show customers how far we're willing to go. We adopt the Open Source philosophy completely. We publish as much as we can as soon as we can. , even if it shows mistakes that we made. We believe solutions are always better when the customer has a say and has all the information at hand. We also kindly reject projects where customers wants to retain intellectual property over the software. Every line of code that we produce, if it is worth it, is contributed back to Chamilo.
bsoco: What are the main features of your software? What do you promise to your customers?
Yannick Warnier: Chamilo has most of the features you could expect from an LMS. However, it is much easier to work with, and it is less resource-hungry than most other solutions. This is particularly important now that most serious solutions need to support mobile devices, and that you need people to take control of new tools, fast! Chamilo pages will usually load a lot faster and require less steps to your content. Lately, we've been working a lot on skills management and our recent integration of OpenBadges is really neat. You can now follow a course, get a badge as a reward and publish it on your LinkedIn profile. Our (free) updated admin and teacher guides should be published very soon, so you can discover all the features in these. If you want to test the software directly, you can very quickly create an account on https://campus.chamilo.org.If you want a demo, drop us an e-mail with the context of your project and what you'd like to see.
bsoco: What development methodologies do you use? And what is the next step?
Yannick Warnier: We have 3 different teams working on the project, at very remote locations, so we had to find a solution to change this disadvantage into an advantage. Also, we work on an open solution, so contributions can come from anywhere, anytime. You have to add this to the mix. The community can be a great asset, but they're also very transparent, so you have to be ready to take harsh comments and turn them into opportunities. We found that using an internet-aware methodology, that takes these complexities into account really helped. We use Agile methods, with our own mix of SCRUM. It's been working great, but the real complexity lies in finding the right people. Our team is great and I believe this is already getting 50% of the job done. The rest is micro-management with a flexible methodology.
bsoco: Thank you for your answers.