Minutes of Project Management Board Meeting, 5 July 2012

Present:

  • Juan Bicarregui
  • David Giaretta
  • Simon Lambert
  • William Kilbride
  • Maurizio Lunghi
  • Veronika Praendl-Zika
  • Hans Pfeiffenberger
  • Minutes: Krystina Giaretta

Introductory remarks by Juan Bicarregui, Director of e-Science Department, STFC

Juan Bicarregui assured the group that STFC will do everything possible to address the fundamental issues that were raised in the Review to bring the project back on track. He noted that there were many minor criticisms in the review report, but it is very important that we address the fundamental issues. As he understood it, there are two major problems:

1. Commitment of the partners - there is a feeling that not all the partners are really engaged with the project and we need to put in place processes to ensure commitment from all the partners, especially the Work Package Leaders and the Stream Leaders.

2. The Vision on long term route to sustainability in relation to the APA and APARSEN project members and there are some fundamental issues to be addressed here. He felt that we need to ensure we have credible plans about the processes that need to be put in place to achieve the deliverable. To reiterate STFC's commitment to the project, JB will be involving himself in the next few months and recognises there is a very strong will on the part of the partners for this project to succeed.

WK welcomed JB to the project and his engagement in it. JB recognised that the management effort allocated to the project was not sufficient. However he believes that bringing in an external project manager, at this stage, would not help the project and feels that strengthening the management and having Simon full time on the project will greatly improve the project administration. JB also advised that he has an appointment to speak to the Project Officer and the Commission and will ensure that we work with the Commission and the Coordinators in order to get some important feedback from the Project Officer and Head of Unit, which he feels will be valuable. Hans P asked about JB's involvement in the project. JB said that STFC will take a very active role putting in place the processes and governance in order to solve the problems but it is up to the partners to achieve coherence and addressing the issues. Solving the action issues is a project problem that all partners should contribute to. HP would like to have a plan to bring about coherence on the project and views this as a high priority. JB said the work package leaders are the people responsible to make sure that the deliverables are delivered and we have to make sure that we have a strong bond with them and ensure they take on that responsibility. The Stream Leaders should steer the clusters of the work packages. STFC's role is as coordinator to ensure we get the strong involvement of the work package leaders to take responsibility for their work packages. It is Simon's responsibility now to ensure we tick all the boxes on the Month 16 review.

VP-Z said some of the WP leaders do not have experience in projects and do not have an idea of how to bring their partners in the work packages together. She feels that the role of the Coordinator is to explain the role of the WP leaders and explain in more detail their roles and how to bring the partners together. JB said there is already work going on to try and rationalise effort so that they can do substantial work on fewer work packages. We should not change the overall resource that the partners have but make it clear where the responsibility lies and make sure partners do work on their particular areas of responsibility and expertise.

DG asked JB if he has read the covering letter from the reviewers as he feels this is a fundamental problem because the reviewers think we are aiming to be a 'Centre of Competence' rather than a 'Centre of 'Excellence'. JB feels we need to define and decide what work we should be doing as clearly stated in the DOW. The important thing is that we are seen to give value for the significant funds that will be given by clustering the effort. DG said that in the comments on the Month 14 deliverables the reviewers are asking for essentially a lot of research. The aim of the project however was to de-fragment the research agenda and create a VCoE. The reviewers were confusing 'Centre of Competence' and 'Centre of Excellence'. It appears they are expecting a lot of original research, whereas the DOW does not promise that. This is one of the fundamental reasons Javier Hernandez-Ros talked about 'shallowness' and this is not the case for example in the work packages that ML and WK are involved in. JB feel that if we address the big issues facing the project, then this will address the EC's concerns.

HP commented on the draft cover letter in response to the M16 checkpoint, which says what APARSEN does not do and addresses the misconceptions that this is a research project. He feels that we also need to address the positive aspects of what the project does. There has been some confusion about developing common vision and we held a workshop in Brussels on this topic. Gathering consensus is not being done by the individual work packages but is being done under WP11 and he feels we should concentrate on the plans for WP11 as a proxy for how this project can get the traction and build the coherence. JB said there are two things that the reviewers are concerned about:

1. The plan for the project

2. What will happen beyond the project

HP said that we need to check what common vision means and we need to make sure this is coherent i.e. is it about the Common Vision for Digital Preservation? There are differences of opinion as to what the common vision should be. JB said that it is the work of the project to determine the common vision and the final result will be the Centre of Excellence. We have to show in a real way that all the partners buy in to this common vision. This is a substantial job that is very difficult to do.

WK said that, as JB will be in and around the project, all the e-mails will be copied to him. WK asked if there is anything we can do to assist him in his planned meeting with the PO and Commission and asked him to the group know how they can assist. JB said that, in terms of briefing before the meeting, he will be consulting with Simon but asked anyone who would like to express a view to please send them to him.

Status of required documents to send to EC by 22 July

SL advised that there are drafts available on the Wiki of the documents required to be submitted to the EC on the 22 July and we need to review the status of these. He will work out some specific actions and timetables for their completion. He will set aside D44.1 and D45.1 as good progress has been made on these. We are need to look at:

1. The covering letter

2. Point by point response

3. Year 2 Plan (this will form part of the revised Period 1 Report once this is finalised)

SL asked if anyone has had a chance to look at these. ML asked about the questions he addressed to SL, who confirmed to some of them. The main question was the role of the project management board in presenting these documents. ML said that, in the preparation of the Year 2 Report he felt the schedule of activity was not enough and would have asked for more input from the work package leaders to make clear what the external results and outcomes of their activities are to pave the way for the Centre of Excellence. ML asked how can we reinforce cooperation and the role of the PMB to be active together. SL agreed that there needs to be more than a month by month plan to achieve this. ML said that the list of actions, responsibilities and covering letter needed to be shared more widely. SL confirmed that the letter and Month 16 Checkpoint Report was sent on the same day it was received from Liina Munari. DG said the points ML raised are correct but the month by month plans were intended as an initial collection of information from the WP leads but we needed to identify the gaps and obtain more.

ML said there are two main points:

1. He said there should be a more sharing and cooperative activity to work together and implement together a joint, shared and agreed policy.

2. Two weeks have passed since the Brussels meeting and time is running short. We have a month by month plan but we now need to demonstrate how these work together.

VP-Z feels we need to look at the tables and the headings to show the direction in which the project needs to go and that the PMB should prepare an overall picture for the Year 2 Plan. SL said that the major criticism of the Year 2 Plan was the perception that it did not commit to anything very specific and by showing the month by month plan, it shows that there are very specific activities going on. JB suggested some kind of presentation preceding the plans would be extremely favourable i.e. a section showing a 'justification of the work plan' and this should be done by the PMB. HP agreed this was a good idea but there should also be an overall introduction as there will be some re-adjustment that will affect the whole project with a better approach to finding the Common Vision. HP felt we should refrain from answering the comments line by line and said we should ensure there is something more positive in the covering letter drafted by Matthias Hemmje.

WK made 4 observations:

1. The covering letter seems a little argumentative and is not addressing the key issue, which should address the reviewers expectations and our expectations which are based on the DOW. The reviewers are expecting us to do an Integrated Project with substantial bodies of research coming out of it as opposed to a Network of Excellence which is to de-fragment research and do targeted strategic research to show the gaps. That seems to be the key issue in all of this review, the gap between what the reviewers are expecting, which is an Integrated Project and what we are seeking to deliver, which is a Network of Excellence.

2. The Year 2 Plan - where are we going to show the new impetus that is required from us. We have that new impetus and a global agreement to this but we need to be more explicit and state the changes, such as STFC's effort in project management.

3. Has not yet seen a clear answer to the recommendations in 2.4 and 2.5. Both of these need to be referred to in the Year 2 Plan and this means a review of all the deliverables and work packages.

4. Month by month plans seem to be somewhat shallow and lacking connectivity to each other and there is much more work to do on these.

SL said the cover letter is clearly a crucial part of the Year 2 Plan but we do need to make some points about the misconceptions without sounding negative.

WK said we need to see a clear presentation of the network of excellence and what we will be doing in Year 2, as the current draft does not deliver sufficiently on these topics. DG proposed that WK should re-write the covering letter and also some text to address the 2.4 and 2.5 recommendations. SL said that we need to decide on the broad contents of the Year 2 Plan and assign responsibility for writing the covering letter:

1. The cover letter - we need to say something more positive while addressing the specific recommendations of the reviewers

2. The Year 2 Plan is documented by month by month plans but there are other sections below which are sparsely populated and need to be strengthened. There are some specific suggestions made and we should focus on these and SL is happy to incorporate headings to ensure each WP has a common structure.

DG said the WP's were designed to be silos without a large number of inter-dependencies. HP said we need to cover things like workshops and include them in the Year 2 Plan. We need to think about re-allocation of resources because there is not enough in the budgets for a lot of topical workshops for each package and this should be documented to show we have thought about this. DG asked if this should be integrated into WP44. HP said they have no effort or research in WP44. JB observed that the level of travel expenses is quite low for such a large project and asked if there would be consensus in the project to take some of the money from staff effort to use for travel. He said that the re-planning and moving of budgets can be done.

Timetable, actions and responsibilities for completion of the submission to EC by 22 July

JB suggested that SL should make a 'skeleton' and send this out to the wider group for input and suggestions. ML volunteered to work on this.

ACTIONS:

1. The Cover Letter

WK was assigned to re-write this letter and address the recommendations 2.4 and 2.5 and point to the Year 2 Plan. He will have a new draft available by tomorrow and asked everyone to pass on any comments and observations to him by this evening.

2. The Year 2 Plan

ML/DG/VP-Z/SL will hold a Skype conference call tomorrow morning at 10am (UK) to formulate a plan for the Year 2 Report.

3. Response Document

SL will work on the response document to the reviewers report, to make it more focussed.

4. One of the things to do tomorrow is to specify the timetable to fill in the contents of the plan. SL will add this to the Wiki page so that everyone can see the progress.

5. The group will hold another meeting tomorrow at 2pm (UK) 3pm (CET) - Friday 6 July - to look at the re-drafted cover letter, Year 2 Plan and Response document.

-- KrystinaGiaretta - 2012-07-05

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