Introducing the Digital Projects Dashboard

This is not the Digital Projects Dashboard. This is just a dashboard (Image: Pixnio)

After a relaxing end-of-year break, the digital team is back in Heidelberg and raring to get started on our many projects. This week we built a dashboard to help us to keep track of the scope, status and dependencies of our nearly two-dozen projects.

All of the things

Mark kicked off the year with an “All of the things” meeting in which we tried to call to mind, write down and categorize all of the various projects – no matter how small – that we have been working on.

Our list, on post-its on the office wall, ranged from straightforward items such as “newsletter redesign” or “write documentation” to massive, multi-year projects such as the “Enterprise Data Repository” or “fix the intranet”. We categorized the projects by status, too: Alpha, Beta, or Live (more about these categories here) – and added each project’s dependencies. And then, because we’re the digital team, we built a digital version of it.

The dashboard

Check it out here. Our projects are listed by the stages they are at (Not started, Consultation, In progress, On hold, Delivered, To be Retired), and tagged by status (Alpha, Beta, Live). We also listed Dependencies – projects that fall under the remit of other teams such as Heidelberg IT, or that need EMBL-wide buy-in, such as retiring the Fiona CMS which runs our public sites and intranet.

(Screenshot of the new Digital Projects Dashboard – a work in progress)

You’ll notice the dashboard is clad in a handsome design provided through the EMBL Visual framework. It even boasts a (non-working, prototype) EMBL toolbar!

We’d like to encourage anyone interested in our work to peruse the dashboard, and keep checking in for changes and progress. There will be plenty of changes to track: to make new digital tools and sites we have to work fast, build and break prototypes, and iterate quickly. Hopefully this dashboard will help make some sense of this process, which can admittedly feel a little messy sometimes. We’re happy to show off our new dashboard and how to make one; Tabea from Stratcomm’s Digital team has already expressed interest in something similar for her workflows. Watch this space!

Dependencies

Finally, a note on dependencies. Digital projects are complex, and have many moving parts. Apart from the design and content, there is a codebase as well as underlying back-end technologies to think about, including diverse Content Management Systems and databases interacting through APIs.

There have been many points in our projects where we realise that to fix one thing, we first have to fix another underlying issue, which itself may have dependencies and underlying fixes needed. But instead of embarking on an Inception-like quest for the underlying fix, we have to start somewhere.

So we’ve started building tools and services on existing technologies, and for some, we may need to swap the less efficient parts later. It’s the price of working quickly – but worth the benefits of rapid iteration and prototyping, as we dash towards better websites.

Intra1: outcomes of the first intranet research sprint

The purpose of intra1 was to understand how people currently use EMBL’s intranets. Specifically, we wanted to:

  1. Understand audience behaviours
  2. Define audience segments
  3. Define the functions and the scope of EMBL’s intranets
  4. Inform the EMBL community about projects to rebuild EMBL’s core websites

We conducted this research with a view to, in the long term, building a new, single, intranet that can serve the entire organisation.
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Call for volunteer digital diarists

We are looking for EMBL people to help with our intranet user research. By keeping a digital diary you can help us to better understand how you use digital resources in the course of your work and home life. This will help us to design things that work better for you. We are asking for this help with a view to developing a new EMBL-wide intranet over the coming years.

Download the digital diary form [PDF]

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Intra1: Intranet project kickoff

On Tuesday, 18 April we kicked off the first research phase for the EMBL intranet project. This first phase, or sprint, will run until 12 May and we’ve codenamed it ‘intra1’. The purpose of this sprint is to:

  • understand current user behaviours
  • define audience segments
  • establish the scope of problems and the functions of EMBL’s intranet(s)
  • communications – informing people that this intranet project is happening.

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Redesigning EMBL’s websites

We are going to be kicking off some long-term projects to redesign EMBL’s web presence. Before we begin, it’s important to establish a clear understanding of what we mean by this. Are we talking about:

  • A new website?
  • The website?
  • All of EMBL’s websites?

We are thinking of this work as 3 distinct projects:

  1. EMBL’s main website (embl.org)
  2. An intranet for EMBL
  3. A website focussing on the scientific services that EMBL offers

Continue reading “Redesigning EMBL’s websites”