Penn State ScholarSphere is a new research repository service offered by the University Libraries and Information Technology Services, enabling Penn State faculty, staff, and students to share their scholarly works such as research datasets, working papers, research reports, and image collections, to name a few examples. ScholarSphere will make these works more discoverable, accessible, usable, and thus broadly recognized and known.
Nearly a year ago I joined Digital Library Technologies (DLT) as their project manager and relocated to Paterno Library. I’d like to state that I really enjoy working in the Library. I’ve been deliberate about assimilating into the Library family by participating in events and functions and, well, it’s been fun. It has also enabled me to meet many of the ‘customers’ that will be involved with my projects.
The three previous blog posts focus on the repository services platform, which is the project I am currently managing. From the project manager seat, I’ll share my perspectives, insights and experiences, and offer a roadmap for what to expect in the coming months. At minimum, my goal is that your takeaway is a better understanding of my project manager role in the repository services project.
In January of this year, staff from DLT and the Libraries began meeting with librarians who agreed to serve as repository services stakeholders. However, my project manager duties began in October 2011. Between October 2011 and January 2012, several planning meetings were held to identify and articulate details such as business needs; project goals; what will and will not be included in the project; and an estimated timeline. We identified technical requirements and project staffing, documented roles and responsibilities, and drafted a preliminary communications plan. My job is to get the right people at the table to have these discussions, clearly define the project, and secure staff resources. This planning work is beneficial throughout the project, but more importantly, it defines the work for those staffing the project. It is clear to them what this project is delivering and when it will be done.
The project is in full-swing and we are now executing and monitoring the work — activities that I oversee, coordinate, and report on. My eye is currently on:
- Building the infrastructure that will support the application and the functionality being built by the development team
- Demonstrating application functionality to our stakeholders and soliciting their feedback
- Working with the sponsors on selecting a name for the application (to be revealed soon!)
- Selecting the user interface design
- Planning for and conducting testing
- Establishing a broad marketing and communications stratey
Having a dedicated project manager to oversee the tasks I just described ensures that those responsible for performing the work are free to do just that. Without a project manager, one or more of these staff would be charged with planning and managing project activities in addition to building and delivering a product. Each detracts from the other, and the quality of the overall product is at risk.
The win for me is that I am part of a dynamic team that is pumped to deliver a product desired by our customer. This is a demanding project, but I am working with scores of people that are excited about what we’re doing. They have shown their commitment by becoming involved in project meetings. They offer feedback, share their expertise, ask questions, and provide answers. They are meeting and planning with their customers for use of the coming service. Our technical team is working equally as hard and is excited to provide a product that meets current and future needs. To assist in this endeavor, they are delving into technology communities to discover and use best practices and establish collaborative relationships. And, we have sponsors that are engaged and available to assist when needed. As a project manager, what’s not to love? This team is driven and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
Here’s what we’re planning for the next several months:
- Apr-May: Stakeholders will review and provide feedback on application functionality
- Apr-May: Usability and accessibility testing strategy established
- Apr-May: Broad marketing & communications plan established
- May: Coding for ingest, dashboard, search results, public search and manage files functionality completed
- May-Jun: Production infrastructure is available
- Jun: Usability and accessibility testing and pilot user testing performed
- Jul-Aug: Final testing, marketing & communications tasks completed
- Sep: Beta Release of the <insert new name here> will be available
Project progress is routinely available at the Program Sigma Website and Program Sigma Brown Bag Lunches. You’ll undoubtedly be learning more when the broader marketing and communications efforts are underway. And, if you have questions about my project manager role, I’d love to hear from you.