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It's common for one or more roles to be shared by a single person. On our project we benefited from a lot of volunteers and the ability to split roles more evenly. Think about finding people to play the following roles:

  • Project manager
  • Researcher and content author
  • Subject matter expert and liaison to subject matter expert
  • Template cleanup and adding labeled fields (in Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word)
  • Python coder
  • Frontend / HTML / CSS / JavaScript coders
  • Docassemble developer
  • Plain language reviewer and editor
  • Tester

We found the most success in asking short-term volunteers to help with testing, cleaning up and adding labeled fields to templates, and Python and frontend coding (for discrete tasks that didn't demand too much familiarity with our whole code base). Subject matter experts, similarly, did not require a long-term commitment to the project, but did require some orientation to understand what an interactive legal application can and should do.

Longer-term members of our team fit more naturally into other roles. People often changed roles and overlapped them over the time that they volunteered. For example: almost all of our members did some Docassemble development as they gained comfort and familiarity as the project went on.

Project management is a learned skill that fit well with people who were outgoing and organized, and also did not demand extensive coding experience. We found it necessary to have a project manager role to make sure content actually got out the door. Otherwise, apps could spend too much time in the refining stage. The urgency of the pandemic helped us center delivering working apps as a goal.

While not an explicit role in the project, we also found it important to share our work in progress with community groups and stakeholder groups early to gain important insights about features and how our project should be designed. Often, this was in the form of a demo with an explicit ask for feedback, so at the stage a bit beyond the useful prototype stage.