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Cat Herding and Community Gardens: Practical e-Science Project Management
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Cat Herding and Community Gardens: Practical e-Science Project Management

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A talk given by Neil Chue Hong at the e-Science Project Management Symposium looking at issues and models of managing projects which are cross-organisation, cross-discipline and cross-usertype, based ...

A talk given by Neil Chue Hong at the e-Science Project Management Symposium looking at issues and models of managing projects which are cross-organisation, cross-discipline and cross-usertype, based on experience of managing several e-Science projects.

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Cat Herding and Community Gardens: Practical e-Science Project Management Cat Herding and Community Gardens: Practical e-Science Project Management Presentation Transcript

  • Cat Herding and Community Gardens: Practical e-Science Project Management Managing for Usability: Challenges and Opportunities for E-Science Project Management 10-11 April 2008, Oxford Neil Chue Hong
  • In a sense, this is what we do…
  • Managing People is like Herding Cats
    • Dave Platt, referring to managing senior programmers
      • origins of phrase lost
      • now used everywhere
    • Co-ordinating skilled people with differing personal goals within a difficult situation
  • But what we want is Community Gardens
    • Jointly cultivated by groups
    • Responsive and responsible to immediate community
    • Pooled resources and experience
    • Collectively organised
    • Learn and trade from other communities
    • Sustainable on lower resources and input
    • "I no longer complain about the poor quality; I do something about it."
    • See: S. Chaplowe, Havana's Popular Gardens: Sustainable Urban Agriculture, World Sustainable Agriculture Association, Fall 1996, Vol. 5, No. 22
  • How do you stop herding cats?
    • … and start cultivating gardens?
  • OMII-UK: Software Solutions for e-Research
    • OMII-UK provides software and support to enable a sustained future for the UK e-Science community and its international collaborators.
      • Core support and development: £7.8 million
      • Commissioned Software Programme: £1.4 million
      • ENGAGE: improving access to e-Infrastructure: £0.9 million
      • Phase II: 2006 - 2009
  • OMII-UK: For all kinds of users Taverna: effortless workflows for scientists OGSA-DAI: data integration for service providers PAG: AG videoconferencing for anyone Campus Grid Toolkit: easy to install grid for job submission
  • OMII-UK: What we do and how we do it Development Support Evaluation + QA Outreach Community Commissioning (100%) 21% 7% 20% 5% (37%) 37% 10% PALs ENGAGE (15%)
  • The Four Levels of e-Science Enlightenment
    • 1) Resources: Providing access to a larger and wider diversity
    • 2) Automation: Repeatability and management of experiments
    • 3) Collaboration: Intra + cross disciplinary networks
    • 4) Participation: Increasing access to a wider set of users; increasing knowledge in a domain
  • Why are e-Science projects different?
    • Researchers + Computer Scientists + Software Developers
    • Many PIs
    • Few sanctions
    • Lack of common goal
    • Need to engage users
    User Satisfaction Cool Code Research Progress Job Stability
  • Have a common goal
    • Or you will always be herding cats!
    • Decide or define this goal with your team
    • Understand how you will reach the goal together
    • This is the hardest thing to achieve but also the most effective
      • a common goal means a common direction
  • Balancing priorities against a goal
  • People power
    • Social engineering is the key
      • Get the organisation right
      • Push decisions down to the right level
        • “ Too many chiefs” in most eScience projects
      • Understand your teams
        • Different people like working in different ways
        • Make sure they’ve met face to face
        • Go to the pub
  • A typical e-Science project organisation? 10 partners Steering Group Investigators Researchers Students Project Managers Developers
  • One for all and all for one
    • Everyone is remote once one is remote
    • We don’t need heroes in a team
    • Collective responsibility still requires owners
    • Competition is good, so go one better
  • Dashboards in your common infrastructure
  • Little by little
    • Agility is all
      • big, complex projects = high risk of failure
      • adopting incremental approaches to requirements, design, and implementation helps minimise risk
        • don’t timebox research, but do timebox development
      • delivering small increments regularly is good
        • good for quality, for visibility, for morale
    • Keep your eyes on the road
      • keep an active eye on project risks
  • What I really, really want
    • Requirements, requirements, requirements
      • write ‘em down! Give ‘em numbers!
      • remember, requirements aren’t just functional!
      • whatever they are, they are always testable
      • everything can’t be a high priority!
    • Make sure you can understand their worth
      • real users better than good ideas
      • user groups focus development
      • do just enough to make it work
    • How do you effectively engage users in a distributed team?
  • Intelligence Analysis Group Management Ops Remit: make the best use of the available intelligence information to produce a three monthly digest Composition: 1 from Ops, 1 from Management 1 from each site team (one Chairs)
      • Honest (independent?) assessment of components
      • User Requirements analysis e.g. SUPER
      • Software Catalogue registrations
    • Send people out to communities
      • User surveys and followups
    • Performance/Useability
      • Customer requests
      • User forum
      • “ NERC community are going to stop using our products if we don’t fix bottlenecks in our workflow”
      • “ If we form an alliance with e-Minerals then we can build developer tools which will be useful”
    Digest intelligence Suggest priorities Suggest actions Prioritise actions Results of actions from last cycle Implement actions Intelligence Analysis Group
  • Handling relationships
  • ENGAGE: developing new users of e-Infrastructure
    • JISC funded, OMII-UK and NGS
    • Work with e-IUS/e-Uptake, follow up on SUPER, target individual research groups
      • Capture research scenarios
      • Collaborate on e-Infrastructure designs
      • Implementation and deployment
    • Aim to create specific examples of research benefit from e-Infrastructure
    • Get “non e-Science” groups to participate
    Use and Deployment Development and Integration Interventions Training Support Design Document and Disseminate Study Practice, Barriers, Enablers and Requirements ENGAGE
  • Make it easy for others
    • Document! Document! Document!
      • Imagine trying to program without a language reference
        • structure and stability is good
      • Get people who like writing documents to do them
        • but get everyone to doc their code
        • A single editor can provide guidance
      • Good code documentation can be used by the tooling
      • Good human documentation will win your users support
    • Make sure you don’t underestimate the cost
      • code maintenance takes longer than code development
        • make it part of the process
    • Keep things transparent and available
      • knowledge shared is easier for your community and easier for your team
  • A good workman…
    • Know your tools
      • Good tools can increase productivity
        • CVS, Ant, Bugzilla, Rational Rose, … use what suits
      • Communication tools are as effective as code tools
        • IRC/IM, Wiki’s, website, email
      • The best tools are the ones which people use
        • being prescriptive doesn’t always work
    • What to do when software you rely on changes?
      • Know your versions!
        • DLL hell, JAR war, …
      • Don’t expect others to be sympathetic
        • keep packages small (common, core, client, interfaces)
  • And for my final tip
    • Balance the hype
      • eScience project management is about vision vs effort vs requests
      • researchers, developers, users and funders are all different
        • and all want different things
        • get it right for one community first
    • Don’t mess with your users
      • it has to install easily
      • examples and tooling help
      • support is better
      • being responsive is best
  • So just remember
    • Have a common goal
    • People power
    • One for all, and all for one
    • Little by little
    • What I really, really, want
    • Balance the hype
    • Go to the pub