FITT Toolbox: Collaboration Setup for Research


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MyBBT and the Coconut project is about the implementation of a company-wide extranet and knowledge sharing platform. The goal of the platform is to facilitate easy communication and collaboration between internal and external parties and consists of various collaborative tools such as document sharing, versioning, discussion boards etc. The document describes not only the technical aspects of such an implementation, but also the techniques used during the project to receive maximum user feedback and broad user adoption.

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FITT Toolbox: Collaboration Setup for Research

  1. 1. Collaboration Setup for Research CoCoNut and MyBBT FITT – Fostering Interregional Exchange in ICT Technology Transfer – Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
  2. 2. Practice in general• CoCoNut = an internal IBBT project involving researchers from many domains & backgrounds (sociologists, economics, engineers, law researchers, mathematicians, etc.) “research the ways in which IBBT researchers work and interact, design the ideal collaboration/sharing environment to work efficiently while being geographically spread.”• MyBBT = the implementation of the coconut findings “Smart, interactive, attractive collaboration & knowledge sharing platform for IBBT researchers and partners”2 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  3. 3. Practice step by step Step 1: Present state analysis Step 2: Conceptual Modelling Step 3: Technology Mapping (MyBBT) Step 4: Dissemination & Valorisation3 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  4. 4. Step 1: Present state analysis Investigate the environment - What are the usability criteria for optimal acceptance? - What are the socio-professional criteria for optimal acceptance? - Who are the relevant stakeholders, relations & working routines Investigate the market - What technical tools and non-technical building blocks - Create inventory of best practices4 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  5. 5. Step 1: Present state analysis - results the environment - IBBT is very heterogeneous, be cross browser / cross platform - Both early adopters as laggards among the users, tool must technically be state of the art as well as very simple to use. - Current working routines are very diverse. Information is spread throughout the enterprise. the market - Established companies have excellent tools, but they tend to assume one platform and one set of clients. - For our case: more relevant stakeholders in the open source solutions.5 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  6. 6. Step 1: Present state analysis - results6 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  7. 7. Step 2: Conceptual Modelling SOTA on multidisciplinary & virtual communication - ‘literature’ study - Focus on models rather than tools Integrate previous findings into a general common model - Model to be used in step 3 (technical implementation) - Model to be used in ‘Cookbook’ Developing Cookbook - Set out the basis for a living cookbook, an IBBT manual - First version is written here, and handed to community afterwards. - Cookbook describes best practices in various aspects of the project work7 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  8. 8. Step 2: Conceptual Modelling8 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  9. 9. Step 3: Technology Mapping (MyBBT) System architecture layout - Market study - Write technical specification System implementation - Using an Agile approach (6 sprints spread over 4 months) - Using CoCoNut users (~40) as feedback audience - Implementation based on Alfresco Share but adapted to the needs of IBBT, as defined in the first two steps. - Main functionality: Wiki tool, Document Sharing functionality, Discussion boards etc. per project - Aggregation of all project data in user/project dashboards.9 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  10. 10. Step 4: Dissemination and Valorisation System v1 live: October 2009 - Relatively small number of projects (20) and users (300) - Close interaction with novice users is vital Disseminate results to IBBT community - Make people aware of the cookbook - Have people contributing to the cookbook - Organize some events (e.g. We-BBT 2010) Continuous development! - Get a feedback loop going. - Listen to the users, implement and listen for feedback again. Repeat.10 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  11. 11. MyBBT? Please join us!11 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  12. 12. 12 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research 12
  13. 13. When? Timing • Original concern: at the very start of IBBT • Project CoCoNut: started in Jan 2008, ends Dec 2009 • MyBBT platform: launched october 2009 • MyBBT is a continuous effort. • CoConut will continue in 2010 for: - User feedback and interaction - Redaction tasks on Cookbook (maintain integrity of information) - Specific tasks that require specific knowledge. E.g. usability issues, metrics or security.13 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  14. 14. Who? Stakeholders • IBBT - Active involvement of 5 people. - Should involve the entire staff (30) in time, as the system is vital for IBBT in a horizontal way throughout the organisation. - At stake: structuring the information in the entire organisation, as well as optimising the internal processes. • IBBT researchers - Core group of 15 FTE involved during project. - Feedback board of 40 users during project (about 120 man days) - At stake: obtain a usable one stop shop for all project related information, tailored to their needs.14 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  15. 15. Where? Location • In all 5 universities of Flanders, at IBBT and online. • Most of the work was done online. • Monthly meetings were there of course, but video conferencing and online collaboration tools were the larger part of this project.15 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  16. 16. Pro’s & Cons Pro’s • Strong user interaction during setup & implementation • MyBBT itself: all project knowledge in 1 platform • User-centered approach for continuous development. Cons • Adaptability of Alfresco: it is possible, but not always as easy as it may seem. • Users can be very demanding. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you will have to work hard to keep up. Make sure you have a skilled team ready.16 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  17. 17. Why ? Why was it established? • IBBT is a decentralized structured organisation - 900 researcher spread over 5 universities and many more campuses. - Equal amount of research partners in industry • There was no common work space before MyBBT - Projects did have separate, closed collab websites - This means: no knowledge sharing cross projects, no overview for senior people that participate in more than 1 project - Hence: little or no tools for knowledge sharing.17 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  18. 18. Why ? Impact • All tough very young, the system is received quite well. • Most added value for seniors, who need overview and dashboards • When everybody uses the tool in the right way we should be able to: - Provide a single source of info regarding IBBT projects to our researchers - Have one single point of entry for all IBBT related questions that are not publically available - Have clear processes and practices defined and documented - Have a good way to communicate to the IBBT community, or segments of it.18 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  19. 19. Outcome What happened after the implementation • As said: the system was received quite well. • Researchers are inclined to start new projects on MyBBT (such as contract research), although we do not oblige them to do this. • Many bug reports bottom up. We consider this a good thing. • Unexpected side effects? - More work than expected - API proves a very useful tool, even more than expected. We already managed to roll out an integration with our survey platform, contact DB. - API makes for a powerful administrative tool (e.g. give me all projects of type X, and of those projects all the project managers).19 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  20. 20. Outcome Plans for the future? • Continuous development of MyBBT - After phase I ended with go-live in Oct 2010, phase II was launched - Scope based on early experiences of users and our own input based on our experience - Initial scope: better feedback mechanism, better email client integration, RTE enhancements for the wiki. • Follow up project of CocoNut - Given the success of CocoNut, we will continue to use our own research group as prime input for MyBBT or even other projects - use the expertise of IBBT research groups in IBBT production environment20 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  21. 21. Lessons Learned Looking back now we would … • Probably invest even more time into the project. • Put more focus on feedback to the feedback group • Giving feedback to users that have invested a lot of their time into this project is key to keeping them motivated and active. • Content is key • Especially for the extranet, content is truly the key to success • Invest early on in the project in writing that content • Invest early on in people that will continuously working on that content.21 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  22. 22. Collaboration Setup for Research tested by INRIA At INRIA we wanted to create a collaborative platform with the objectives of: Fostering national transfer initiatives led by INRIA Build a sector-specific platform (for example, mobile services) Bring together the different stakeholders (research, industry, SMEs) and create the community Lead this community by providing added value information Our approach: Identify the stakeholders at the national level Create the necessary Web 2.0 tools Stimulate technology transfer oriented discussions22 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  23. 23. Collaboration setup for research in practice with INRIA Lessons Learned An online work environment was necessary to bring together people from different organisations In order to be attractive, there was a need to focus on a given sector and on user/community needs In order to boost innovation in a defined sector there is a need for tools which provide networking opportunities and centralise information on the sector It is necessary to put a lot of human efforts and energy to make the created community attractive and sustainable The time is necessary to be able to assess the usefulness of the experience23 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  24. 24. Collaboration Setup for Research tested by DigiteoOur objective was to test a collaborative tool used in a research institution with a similarorganisation in ‘network’ (gathering labs from different research organisations, launchingcollaborative projects involving different teams). Therefore, the tool MyBBT of IBBT was ofparticular interest.In this context, there is a strong need for: centralized information : to facilitate work of scientists & administrative staff (reporting, answering to call for projects…) information system : to extract and analyse the required information from numerous sources (internal databases etc..) Customization of access : to navigate in the large amount of information and get directly the information related to your project(s)IBBT allocated project accounts on MyBBT for Digiteo to manage 3 projects during 6 months.The allocation of project accounts was the preferred option, as it was not possible in the testtimeframe to do conceptual modelling and technical realisation of an own tool.24 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research
  25. 25. Collaboration Setup for Research Lessons learned by Digiteo Even the simplest tool requires time & some getting used to. It’s worth proposing a simple user guide including visuals for the most frequent operations (majority of the users) and a detailed, longer version. Clear added-value of having a single source of information on a (collaborative) project : clear vision of project history, repository of documents enabled by nice functionalities (personalized dashboard, common calendar, list of recent changes etc…). Careful to classic pitfall though: too many functionalities/options that are rarely used and discourage the users. Structuring tool that will modify the way of working = long process, involving numerous stakeholders. The risk is to develop a platform that will be complex to use or not known. Massive communication efforts & guidance at the launch (announcement, training sessions, endorsement by management) appears as key success factor to ensure a quick appropriation and sustainability in the long run. Our recommendation: link internet website (window for scientific activity targeted to general public) and internal platform/ intranet (project management), to have one single access point.25 | 03/2011 Collaboration Setup for Research