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Stepping back from the edge: rescuing the project plan

DepositMO hasn’t fallen off a cliff, although it might look like it from the recent lack of blog posts.

Actually, one partner in the project has fallen. Our original partners from Edinburgh University have left the project. That was their choice. It would be glib to say these things happen, but this has not happened on any other project I have managed, so I am sorry it happened here.

After some sensitive discussions with Balviar Notay, our programme manager at JISC, I am pleased to report that we will be taking the work due to be done by Edinburgh forward, and we have recruited a leading expert to help with that. There will be a short extension to the project, to the end of September, to allow this part of the work to be completed. In other words, nothing will be lost from the original project plan as a result of this local problem.

It has to be said that Balviar’s approach throughout these difficulties has been to enable all the project work to be completed positively, and she has shown great goodwill and flexibility to facilitate this.

We have a full project meeting scheduled for next week to assess the ramifications of these developments for the whole project team, and to assure that we have covered all angles in our revised project plan. It would be premature to blog more details ahead of that meeting,

Beyond the project management issues, there has been progress on the technical front. We have been running preliminary tests on two deposit tools: a pop-up interface for Word 2010 to enable direct deposit in a selected repository for the work being prepared in the application; and a more general Dropbox-like drag-and-drop tool that works with desktop file management systems such as Windows Explorer or Mac Finder. The conclusion of those tests is that we can move on to more formal and substantial user tests.

Again, it might be premature to reveal too much about these tools ahead of the tests, so that all users are starting from the same point, of no prior experience. (Not that our target users, all recommended by our repository and disciplinary content partners, are likely to be reading this blog.)

Perhaps a bigger problem is how to present these tools here. At a recent JISC Repository Deposit programme meeting (Birmingham, 1 March, see this report on the meeting) my presentation consisted of a live demonstration of one tool, a short video of the other (had time permitted), all held together loosely by a few slides. Before we overload this post, I’ll promise we will give these tools plenty of coverage in future posts, trying all reasonable representations, so that more people can understand and get to try for themselves.

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