Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tackling project risk

At the meeting in Leeds, we held our regular milestone review of project issues and risks, and took a look at the technical situation at each of the partner HEI sites. During that review, it became clear that the progress of each institution towards having a fully functioning repository link to advocate is not quite running as was envisaged at the start of RePosit – that advocacy and training would take place in earnest from February through to May in all partner institutions. Having working systems in place in time to run advocacy and training campaigns and see the resulting repository engagement within the time frame of the project is a major part of achieving some of the project outcomes, and any institution that does not have that set-up in time runs the risk of effectively having to bow out – not seeing changes to repository holdings and users nor providing statistics for the project report. Of course, there are still many other benefits that partner institutions gain from the project work, which can be used beyond the project end date, plus inputs that they make to the project, in terms of working on the project materials outputs, dissemination and community building, plus providing support and expertise.

While both QMUL and Keele have caught up swiftly, despite only just going live with their (first-time, brand new) repositories, and now have functioning Repository Tools links between repository and CRIS, the progress at Leeds – which previously had been well ahead – is paused whilst a technical concern is ironed out. The risk having been flagged up at the project meeting, this particular issue is being dealt with as a matter of priority at Symplectic – and is in progress already.

The more difficult situation is that jointly of Plymouth and Exeter, where there are complicated factors in play. Exeter has had both a functioning repository and CRIS for some time, but is currently involved in an internal project to bring its repository in-house. Delays to that IT project have had the knock-on effect that the repository link cannot yet be implemented. Plymouth and Exeter share a CRIS but have separate repositories, and so implementing the repository link is a new technical solution, as well as being a complicated contractual situation. Plymouth went live on the Exeter CRIS last year and have a new repository, which is already in-house, but there have been contractual delays with this complex set-up, combined with a three-week period of ill health for Richard Jones, head of Repository Systems at Symplectic, both holding up implementation work. These two risks having been flagged up at the project meeting, solutions are being worked on as a matter of urgency – the multiple repository link has been developed by other Symplectic colleagues and is in test now, and a contractual work-around has been agreed to allow implementation work to go ahead at Plymouth before Exeter. So the only risk still out of the hands of the RePosit team and those at Symplectic is the timeline of the Exeter internal repository project. Ian Tilsed and Jill Evans at Exeter continue to be heavily involved with RePosit development of advocacy materials, plans, training, survey, etc and have done all their site-specific planning and preparations, with the hope that they will be able to jump back aboard with their linked systems in April, for at least part of the ‘live’ section of the project, which period could also be extended into June if necessary.

One key point to take away from this situation is that multiple partner sites, especially those with complicated shared services, add a breadth of experience and different perspectives to the project, but they also add complications and potential delays.

posted by: Lizzie Dipple

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