2019: a DMP year in review

2019 was a pivotal year for DMPonline. Having introduced a new subscription model in November 2018 to sustain the DCC-led service, the last 12 months saw us develop a solid user base. This uptake has allowed us to grow the team and increase our engagement channels to ensure the service continues...

Sarah Jones | 30 January 2020
2019 was a pivotal year for DMPonline. Having introduced a new subscription model in November 2018 to sustain the DCC-led service, the last 12 months saw us develop a solid user base. This uptake has allowed us to grow the team and increase our engagement channels to ensure the service continues to meet user needs.
 
A growing user base
In speed car like style, we have gone from 0-50 in the blink of an eye. While we have run separate instances of the codebase for the Finnish National context and Melbourne University since 2017, charging users for the main DCC hosted instance was a new venture. We opted to keep the primary use of the tool free to all and only charge for the added-value features of customising the tool by adding your own templates, guidance and branding. 
 
We also extended the codebase so we could operate the DCC-hosted DMPonline instance as a multi-tenant service. This means we can allow organisations to specify their own URL and change the main user interface style and content, while sharing the same underlying database and allowing DMPs to be shared and co-authored across all the full 17,000 users. 
 
 
Image: TU Delft and Karolinska Institutet branding
 
Our new business model has worked well and we have seen a steady stream of sign up and quote requests on a weekly basis. We now have customers in Finland, Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. It’s barely left time to breathe but luckily Magdalena joined us in January 2019 and took over all the contract and user liaison work. She will present a paper on our business model at the next IDCC conference so tune into this in February.
 
User engagement
Since Magdalena joined, we have dedicated more time to engaging with and understanding our users needs. We have run four user groups, started monthly drop-in calls, knowledge exchange blog posts from the community and a regular newsletter. We have also run regular training courses to support your use of the tool and created new marketing materials including laptop stickers and postcards to help promote the service on campus. We also have active social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the DCC blog.
 
Code enhancements
The development team were very busy in 2019. We made contributions to the RDA Common Standard for DMPs to ensure our data model maps to this, made the site accessible for screen-readers, improved search and admin functions, and added lots of new features, including:
  • Improved workflow for DMP review functionality and email notifications
  • Fine grained permission settings including a separate reviewer role
  • Allowing you to specify your departments to provide more tailored support 
  • One-click plan creation from the templates page (thanks Benjamin!)
  • Template export so you can make these available outside the tool
  • Ability to archive or merge duplicate user accounts
  • API extension to allow unis to harvest the full text of DMPs
  • Integration with OpenAIRE API so H2020 grant IDs are pulled in easily
More staff, more time for you
The most marked change for us has been staffing increases. From 2.5 full-time equivalents (FTEs) in 2018 we have grown to a team of six, representing 5 FTEs. We have 3 full-time developers, a full-time customer development manager, support on helpdesk and coordination of the team. Ray Carrick joined us from EDINA in September and Marta Nicholson (nee Ribeiro) rejoined the team in December. It’s great to have developers who know us and our work that can integrate quickly. Despite the growing team there is always still more than we can do, but it feels amazing to be able to respond to ideas much more quickly. We also have more time to plan and think strategically about where we want to go with the tool.
 
Our collaborators in the USA have also had some staffing changes in this period. Stephanie Simms, the product manager for DMPTool, has been replaced by Maria Praetzellis from the Internet Archive. We took time for a 3-day planning meeting in November, which Benjamin Faure the developer on the French DMP OPIDoR service also joined. This gave time for the team to get to know one another, aided by some socials and ceilidh dancing, and allowed us to define new work processes and plans. During this meeting we mapped out our development roadmap for 2020.
 
Left to right: Brian Riley - DMPTool, Benjamin Faure - DMP OPIDoR, Marta Nicholson - DMPonline, Maria Praetzellis - DMPTool, Sarah Jones - DMPonline, Sam Rust - DMPonline, Ray Carrick - DMPonline.
 
New decade, new horizons
The move into a new decade marks a coming of age for DMPonline. We first launched the tool in April 2010 at the Jisc conference. The past 10 years have seen many changes and a real growth in maturity. We enter the new decade with a robust open source codebase with contributors across the globe, a sustainable business model and an enthusiastic team brimming with ideas. I can’t wait to see what the new decade brings!