Managing project benefits

One of the key areas I’m trying to plan proactivly is the benefits management of the ERIS project. I’m looking into this particularly as the projects success factors are somewhat intangible. For example, the following are listed as outcomes of the project, and whilst some can be associated with direct measures of success, the benefits of others are more opaque.

Short-term: (ERIS in-project success factors)

(a) Improved facilities; researcher-friendly repositories supporting research pooling and other collaborative work and with added value to encourage deposit;

(b) Interoperability; Improved workflows and metadata exchange for seamless embedding of the repositories in the research and institutional processes;

(c) Improvements in education and training; enhanced knowledge and skills within institutions at all levels;

(d) Improved community collaboration; transferable best practices and service models;

Long-term: (post project factors)

(a) Improved rate of deposit; increased deposit rates leading to critical mass of research output available at both institutional and cross-repository levels.

(b) Development of trust; increased user confidence – amongst researchers and institutional managers – in the value and longevity of repositories;

(c) Demonstrated return on investment; increased confidence in the long-term ability of repositories to enhance visibility for Scottish research and, as a result, the practical and commercial exploitation of the Scottish research base

Projects don’t always give the same focus to the realisation of expected benefits as they do for ‘hard’ project measures, such as ‘on time’, ‘on budget’ and I wan’t to ensure that we don’t take this route on ERIS.

The delivery of intangible benefits (such as productivity gains, morale improvement, or increased customer satisfaction) are rarely analysed or measured. Project deliverables can be assessed as successful from an object perspective but the evaluation needs to go further than that.

The great value in taking a benefits realsiation approach is that we will be looking at evidence based measurements across the whole project, and whilst this is a significant increase in management overhead, it at least means we will be in line with JISC’s requirements and will be able to say , hand on heart, just how successful the project has been. James


Planning progress

Well, there are a couple of updates on the project to tell you about.

Andy from JISC has ‘kindly’ posted the link to the 30 second introduction to the project that I gave to the Inf11 and VRE start up meeting a few weeks ago. I hate seeing myself on video, not least when its a very rushed presentation. Hey ho.

Here’s the link if you can bear it!

Other things of note;

The first draft of the project plan was successfuly delivered to the project partners for review on Friday of last week, and I’ve set a target for the sign off at the end of July.  Fingers crossed we won’t have to do too much in the way of re-work now.

Next stage on from that is going to be the full initiation of all the workpackage projects – going into some detail on the scoping of actvities and agreeing what we can realistically achieve with the resources we have and the timeframes we have set.

We’ve also started work on the full project website, which will be the supporting tool for our survey work with researchers, repository managers and other project stakeholders.  The intention is to use Buddypress to do this, as it incorporates the powerful functionallity of WordPress with additional social networking tools so we can use it to bring these stakeholder groups together.  I will let you know more as it happens.

I’ve currently scheduled a launch date for end September 2009.

JISC Inf11-VRE start up meeting

JISCcolour23I’ve just returned from attending the JISC Information Environment and VRE start up meeting, held  at the  Uni of Leicster July 7/8th 2009.

In summary, it was a very positive meeting – primarily aimed at explaining the JISC parent programmes  and also providing some useful hints and tips for project managers.  The 1 and 1/2 day event was pretty well attended by JISC newbies and veterans with the first half day aimed at new project managers and the second day describing the programmes and then a number of workshops covering areas such as communication, sustainability, evaluation and user engagement.

The second day started off with a particularly challenging requirement to present a summary of the project in no more than 30 seconds. This is not easy, and particularly for a project as broad as ERIS. The presentations were all video recorded and will be made availabe on the JISC project pages as soon as they have been sorted.  The presentations were varied, powerpoint slides banned, and a few poetic souls came up with some very imaginative approaches, making us boring people feel very innadequate….

Personal highlights for me were a number of very interesting discussions around benefits realisation management, on evaluation in general and I particularly enjoyed the all too brief user engagement session presented by Neil Chue-Hong from

However, without question the most valuable actvity was the networking. We had ‘suggested’ people to talk to, orgainsed by the JISC programme managers.  This was done in order to identify areas of the projects that had potential overlaps, and to speak with people who may have already had experience in certain areas.

The most useful connection for me was with the Repository Support Network and the Welsh Repositories Network both of whom are effecivley working in the same space as ERIS, but in different territories. There are differences between primary objectives, but we have all agreed to get together and find out where there are areas of synergy, and see what we might be able to do to help each other.  The RSP was a particularly good fit to the IRIScotland repository managers group, which I see as a sort of Scottish branch of RSP, and I’ve agreed to strike up a regular conversation with RSP Project Manager Dominic Tate, who is now reponsible for the next 3 year funding tranche.

The WRN are embarking on a mission to “investigate the potential of a collaborative, centrally managed model for accelerating the development and uptake of repository services in HEIs in Wales and across the UK as a whole”

All in all, a very useful couple of days, in not only for the sheer entertainment of watching Hull’s Chris Awre delivering a perfect 30 second pitch for his project whilst juggling. I thought I’d seen everything…