In our recent collection of blogs, we met the persona of Dr Erika a 37 y.o. senior researcher that was the principal investigator of the proposal 4Sure, Erika that was awarded a grant of 6 M€ within the EU H2020 framework. Her main challenge was “How to provide and access the necessary information in the more intuitive and less time consuming manner to concentrate on scientific activities?”.
In this new blog we will show how the SAP JAM platform (later JAM) can support her to interact in a structured way with all project members to manage efficiently her project. JAM is part of the SAP Cloud offer and using it to change the interactions between the different research partners (eg. including researchers, support and admin staff but also external entities) may reach broader cloud adoption and may become the killer application that Malcolm was talking about.
Introduction to JAM
In a nutshell, JAM is a secure, social collaboration solution hosted in the cloud, which provides intuitive and powerful tools to work together with your team mates and partners. If it is the first time you are hearing about JAM, the best is probably to read some of the content of the SAP Social Software place including the Timo Elliot’s excellent introduction to enterprise social work and the collection of useful resources and documents collected by Luke Marson. Since you are reading this blog on SCN, you can also imagine that JAM will offer to your organization a set of services very similar to the ones you are experimenting daily on SCN but you will be on the driving suite enabling to define your groups, your own templates, your access policy and much more.
Using JAM to communicate within Research Organisations
During our workshop in Potsdam, we talked informally about how we perceived the potential of JAM to serve the as a central hub to connect the different components of a research organization. We were surprised by the perceived skepticism that is likely due to the fact that a social network was associated to a ‘****book alike tool’: we should highlight that a ‘Business oriented’ social network is more geared toward ideas exchange and collaboration around documents than a picture sharing and a ‘like button’ platform !
To a large extent, researchers embraced the social network communication paradigm since the inception of internet with the defunct news and gophers tools or even while publishing plain HTML, more recently blogs, wikis and platforms such as BSCW are largely used within research organizations as project collaboration platform. Still, they exhibit some limitations such as:
- the user experience does not meet modern standards and the access is often limited to PC with few support for tablet and phone,
- the installation process requires specific skills and hardware for a duration eventually longer than the project lifespan,
- the set of available widget is sometime limited and require to use extra tools such as doodle,
- the administration of users and associated access policy is cumbersome and relies on a set of experts able to manage it.
The presentation that we did to one large European research center and their feedback confirmed our opinion and we believe that JAM can circumvent the large majority of these limitations and we will show through an example how you can use JAM to better manage a research collaborative project.
Our use case: the H2020 project
To better explain how JAM can be used, we build our use case along the line of a simplified albeit realistic project based on a project recently awarded to a consortium including the SAP Product Security Research group and on my own experience over the past 10 years as SAP Research lead of several EU FP6/FP7 research projects (e.g. Serenity, ESFORS, Politess, PrimeLife and TAS3) and the principal investigator for SAP on various successful proposals (e.g. PrimeLife, CESSA, ASSERT4SOA). In the second part of this blog, we wil also explained how JAM is used daily by a SAP driven consortium since almost a year.
Our H2020 project example work is structured along 2 technical work packages, (WP) one dissemination and exploitation work package and one work package dedicated to project management. A technical board lead by the project technical coordinator is in charge to oversee the main technical choice, to insure that the technical work packages cooperation is going smoothly and to review the deliverables before the submission to the funded body (eg. the EU project).
Project setup in JAM
Using subgroups for Work Packages and Project Boards
We choose to define one group for the project together with 5 subgroups one for each work package plus one dedicated to the technical board. The landing page which is highly customizable enable to browse these different elements, contacts prominent consortium members or critical documents, it also include a searching tool that enable to find all documents (eg. including pdf, blogs, forums) in a specific group.
Keeping Team Members up-to-date
The project feeds will collect all activities within the group and all the subgroups you are belonging to, on top of that the feed can also be alimented by external tools that may include partners’ rss feeds or twitter accounts (eg. the project/members account) or even specific hashtags.
Using Group Templates to capture Best Practice
Different work packages may use different template as landing page, a set of predefined templates including knowledge sharing, help and support or planning and implementation may be used. Moreover, new templates may be defined to better adapt to research projects. Groups can also be duplicated to failcitate the initial setup for similar work packages,
Controlling the Access to Groups and Documents
Several subgroup such as Project Management or Technical Board may be restricted to a subset of members. Group properties enable to define the invitation policy (who can invite new members and who can accept new members), the term of use of a specific group, but also the collaboration level (eg. upload policy, read only, moderation).
In this first part, we proposed a way to use JAM groups capabilities to reflect the H2020 project organization, next week we will show how the JAM widgets can be used to handle recurrent tasks within the project.
Read the second part