For Project Safety Back Up Your People, Not Just Your Data


Does your open source project have a succession plan for its key players? Here’s why it should.

I propose that instead of viewing succession planning as a leadership pipeline, free and open source projects should view it as a skills pipeline. What sorts of skills does your project need to continue functioning well, and how can you make sure those skills always exist in your community?

Benefits of succession planning

When I talk to project maintainers about succession planning, they often respond with something like, “We’ve been pretty successful so far without having to think about this. Why should we start now?”

Aside from the fact that the phrase, “We’ve always done it this way” is probably one of the most dangerous in the English language, and hearing (or saying) it should send up red flags in any community, succession planning provides plenty of very real benefits:

  • Continuity: When someone leaves, what happens to the tasks they were performing? Succession planning helps ensure those tasks continue uninterrupted and no one is left hanging.