Project process

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This page describes the stepwise process from an idea to starting, running and completing a NeIC collaborative project, and roughly in the order that the steps are expected to take place. The governing processes described here also largely applies to NeIC operations.

The first thing to note is that NeIC is not a funding body, but a facilitator for collaborations, so we will be happy to help you at any stage of the process toward successful completion. Please do not hesitate to contact NeIC with ideas at any stage of maturity.

Practical Project Steering

First, a quick note that the NeIC project management model is based on the Tieto PPS project management model.

The NeIC adaptions are explained here: Practical project steering in NeIC.

Overview

This figure gives an overview of NeIC's governance and contracting processes relating to projects and follow-on activities.

Source: Project governance process drawing (Google Drawing format)

This figure shows an overview of how the framework process for governance of projects and follow-on activities in NeIC plays out over time, and how it maps to project steering group decisions of various type that are taken at various points during the project lifetime. These decision points are laid out progressively as they occur along the timeline. The subscript n is to indicate that projects can have zero or more decision points of this type, as necessitated for example by project length and complexity and the number of deliverables that it has defined. The block arrows at the bottom indicate the different phases of the project according to PPS, and describe the types of activity that are typically undertaken in the different project phases. The loopback around DP5-7 is to indicate that projects typically spend most of their lifetime in this phase, producing, delivering, and transferring results (purple), with the steering group monitoring progress and deciding on change as necessary in decision points of type 5, 6, or 7. Green boxes describe groups of people with given roles in the project along with who appoints them. Yellow boxes represent signed legal agreements, while blue boxes denote other project governance documents along with what body approves them. White boxes represent processes at executive, partner, and board level. Blue arrows indicate admissible time windows for action (eg approval, signature or appointment) in order not to impede the project's progress. The blue arrow from "Service Contracts Team" going left is to indicate that dialogue with employing institutions can and should be initiated early in the process, but should not be brought to conclusion before the Project Manager's Service Contract is signed, for the obvious reason that the personnel in question are contracted based on Project Manager appointment.


Decision points

#Steering group meetings are nominally scheduled 6 months ahead, and can be of different types depending on the status of the project.

  • Constituting meeting: Settle existential issues; Terms of Reference, Rules of procedure etc. It is common to also address DP1 in the same meeting.
  • DP1: Steering and management in place. Decision to start #preparation phase.
  • DP2: Preparation phase health check. Take note of findings in preparations. Still worthwhile to run the project? Decision to continue, change, or interrupt the project. It is common to have one or several DP2's during the course of the preparation phase.
  • DP4p: Decision to start work in specific and well defined parts of the project, even though the project plan in general is not yet ready for approval. DP4ps are risky and should generally not be considered, unless the timings of the identified parts are critical and breaking them would jeopardize the success of the project.
  • DP3: Project plan and staff in place. Decision to approve project plan, and end #preparation phase.
  • DP4: Decision to start #execution phase. Most often, the DP3/4 decisions are taken at the same meeting.
  • DP5: Execution phase health check. Take note of findings in execution. Still worthwhile to run the project? Decision to continue, change, or interrupt the project. It is common to have one or several DP5's during the course of the execution phase.
  • DP6/7: Take note of delivery/transferal of results produced in the project. Projects have one DP6/7 pair per deliverable defined in the project plan. If the deliverable is a report, then its DP6 and DP7 are generally addressed in the same meeting. During the execution phase, most steering group meetings are DP5/6/7 and thus address changes to the project and issues resulting from the deliveries and transferals that were carried out in the preceding period.
  • DP8: Approve end report. Decision to close the project.

Idea

NeIC activities all serve to improve research e-infrastructure in areas of joint Nordic interest. The requirements for starting NeIC activities are described on the page for activity initiation.

A central requirement is to adequately demonstrate the Nordic dimension of the activity, i.e. Nordic committment and Nordic uptake of results and deliveries. You are warmly welcome to contact NeIC NeIC for help with finding Nordic partners and Nordic co-financing.

The next step is to develop your idea, along with NeIC and your partners, into a mature #project directive that can be used as a base for launching your idea as a project.

See also the list of potential projects.

Project directive

The purpose of the project directive is to provide a basis and pre-conditions for starting the project, and setting time and cost frameworks for the preparation work. The project directive proposes the project #steering group.

The project directive is the basis on which NeIC decides to launch a project, and to what degree it can be co-funded by NeIC. The evaluation criteria are listed on the page describing activity initiation.

The project directive is superceded by the #project plan, once approved by the project steering group.

On NeIC decision to launch an activity, NeIC and the partners sign a #collaboration agreement, where the project directive is an attachment.

Collaboration agreement

The formal basis for a NeIC project is a collaboration agreement between NeIC and co-funding partners. The co-funding partners are typically national e-Infrastructure provider organisations (CSC, DeIC, Sigma, SNIC, RHnet) for projects within generic services. For community-driven projects (such as within the bio- and medical sciences), the partners can also be Nordic user communities or research infrastructures.

A template collaboration agreement is available here: Template collaboration agreement.

The first step after signature is the formal establishment of the #steering group and appointment (or recruitment) of the #project leader and the project team. The project leader is hired by NeIC.

The Board decided in December 2015 that future engagement project personnel (not project leader) will be subcontracted through the national provider organizations, except in the case of Iceland.

Service contracts

For staffing NeIC activities, NeIC contracts employing institutions for the services of named personnel. The preferred model is for NeIC to do the contracting directly with the co-funding partners #collaboration agreement, usually the national e-infrastructure providers. In an alternate model, which is generally only applied to smaller projects, these service contracts are subcontracted to the home institution of the #project leader.

Steering group

The project steering group generally consists of 5-7 partner representatives, with formal authority to make decisions on behalf of the partner in matters relating to the project. The steering group is normally chaired by the project owner (NeIC) through a representative from the Executive Team.

The responsibilities of steering group include:

  • Approving the #project plan.
  • Acting as ambassadors to the partner organisations, to ensure uptake of project results and deliveries.
  • Receiving continual reports from the #project leader
  • Deciding on changes in project scope, time frame or budget, or terminating the project.
  • Approving deliveries and end report.

Project leader

The project leader runs the day-to-day activities in the project, and is usually contracted to the project via a #service contract.

Responsibilities include:

  • Drafting the #project plan based on advice from the #reference group, within the framework defined by the #project directive.
  • Proposing changes in project scope, time frame or budget to the #steering group, as necessitated by events inside or outside the project.
  • Working with partners and stakeholders to staff the project (cf. #service contracts).
  • Leading a distributed team toward deliveries and successful project completion.
  • Providing regular reports to #steering group.

Reference group

The reference group is composed of representatives from user communities and e-infrastructure operations, and advice the project on functional and operational requirements on deliverables.

Responsibilities include:

Project plan

The project plan is a detailed document drafted by the #project leader during the project #preparation phase. It supercedes the #project directive on approval by the project #steering group, which marks the transition into the #execution phase.

In general terms, it describes the "Hows", to complement the "Whats" that are described in the #project directive. It generally contains things like "work breakdown structure", "Gantt diagrams", technical solutions, staffing (cf. #service contracts), assignments of work tasks to partners, etc.

Preparation phase

The initial part of project work where the #project leader drafts the #project plan, does additional recruitment to cover newly discovered needs, etc. #Steering group approval of the #project plan marks the conclusion of the preparation phase and transition into the #execution phase.

Execution phase

Execution of project work as described in the #project plan. Deliveries and transfers of ownership of deliveries take place. Adaptations outside the framework of the #project plan can be made by #steering group decision. #Steering group approval of the #project plan marks the conclusion of the #preparation phase and transition into the execution phase.

Termination

NeIC projects do not go on forever, but are terminated on #steering group decision, for example on approval of all deliveries including the end report (cf. #assessment).

Assessment

NeIC projects are continously assessed in #steering group meetings, where the steering group can decide to continue, change or terminate the project.

NeIC projects always deliver their end reports to NeIC for open publication. Larger projects also deliver a midterm report to NeIC for open publication.

End reports and midterm reports should also be presented to NeIC Provider Forum and/or the NeIC Board.

Links