Meeting Minutes

August 13, 2015

I.    Announcements

Welcome to our last meeting of the summer.

At the next meeting, in two weeks, we will welcome our new members and thank a couple of people who are rotating off.  Our new student representatives may not be present yet.  This meeting will last about an hour and will have special food & beverages.

Our agenda is shifting; Larry Carin's topic has been moved to the beginning.

The grants balance app is one of a number of initiatives that many people in OIT and Administrative Systems Management have been working together closely on.  Larry has been in the vice provost role (Vice Provost for Research) for about a year.  After moving from Pratt to the vice provost role, he identified grant management tools for researches as an area needing attention.

Larry has been working on the problem of getting better information into faculty hands than we can with the tools we now have.

II.     Agenda Items

4:05-4:40 - Duke Grants Balance Mobile App, Larry Carin, Chris Meyer,  Todd Orr (25 minute presentation, 10 minute discussion)

What it is:  This mobile application, available through Duke Mobile, provides a convenient way for Principal Investigators and Grant Managers to access the current balance available on their grants, as well as effort data and other key information on their grants.

Why it's relevant:  This is the first administrative application that uses the SAP Fiori mobile gateway to deliver data to mobile applications.

It's good to know how much money you have left in your grant budget before you've overspent it.  I've been at Duke for more than 20 years.  In the old days, you would receive a paper report on your grant; moving to an electronic world saved trees but lost us the ability to easily track our grants.

About a year ago, working with Todd Orr, we began the development work needed for pushing out a monthly Excel spreadsheet that summarizes all of the grants.  We call this "the Push".  That took a lot of work and has had a big impact.

I'll take some credit for the push, but I'll take no credit for this second item.

There's a new app, which we're announcing the soft launch of today.  Official launch will be in about a month.

Everyone's familiar with the DukeMobile app, which you should keep updated.  There's a new feature called Research Administration.  If you click on that and log in, instead of a monthly report, you'll get a real-time view of your grant's current balances.  This provides a quick and easy way to answer the question, "Do you have funding to support me?"

This is live, but unannounced.  It works well.  Between this new mobile app and "the Push", you're almost running out of excuses to say you're running out of money in your grant.

Chris Meyer reported that we used Fiori, SAP's next generation of tools to build not only mobile applications but web applications using industry standards such as HTML5, XML, and so forth.  SAP is the system we use to enter new people into Duke payroll; to approve travel and purchases; and in this case, to manage grants.  SAP is a pretty big and complex system; if you've used Duke@Work, that's SAP you're using.  The interface is not the most intuitive, but they're working on improving this.  Fiori lets us put a better front-end on this complex back-end.

Fiori uses HTML5, the standard for displaying web pages on computers, tablets, and mobile phones.  The grants balance application was developed from scratch by Richard Outten's Enterprise Web Systems group within OIT.  Fiori pulls operational data (Odata) into the mobile app, where you can then view that information.

The tricky thing with this application was getting single-sign-on working (Shibboleth, using your NetID).

Todd Orr continued, informing the group that here was an update to DukeMobile on Monday.  This demo is being done in a test system.

Each line is a separate application.  Some of these are SAP based; the COI Form line is from the RAD group in the School of Medicine.  We've been able to mix different applications from different sources to support sponsored research.

Two applications we've created as part of this effort are Grant Managers, for GMs, and Grant Balances, for PIs.  The security is different, so they're separate applications.

Early this year a group of faculty was formed to talk about requirements.  Needed to be real-time; needed to display current balance; needed to be able to toggle between a direct cost standpoint or a total direct and indirect; needed to see effort, who's being paid from the project.  Need to see detail by expense category.

At least some of the people wanted to show transaction detail.  What I'm about to show you shows all of those except transaction detail.

There's a toggle for Direct Cost or Total Cost.  We default to Direct Cost.

Each line shows the fund code number and the end date for the grant.  Click Detail, and see the plan for the grant and the projected balance and the date of the most recent balance.  Drill down on any grant by clicking on it to see more detail.  You can see detail by expense category; you can see who's paid off the grant and what percent of their effort is from that grant.

Does anyone here ever use My Research in Duke@Work?

We intend to take what we've done here with HTML5 and plug it in to Grants Balance as well so you can see the same information there as well.

Questions and Comments

Q: What do you mean about projected balance?

A: Our SAP projection tool runs every month.  For every grant at Duke, it looks at who is being paid from that grant and which percent of their salary, including fringe, and calculates a projected amount for the next twelve months based on current effort.  There's always a salary and fringe projection.  Grant managers have the option of adding non-salary projections to that tool as well.  This looks  at current budget, actual spent to date, and projected numbers.

When we first designed this, we had what looked like a spreadsheet view, but we couldn't find any way to get that to work on a phone.  We found other ways to present the overviews while still allowing additional detail.

Q: What about multi factor authentication when the phone you're using for your second factor is also your interface into the information?

A: The notion of "two factors" is something you know plus something you have.  In this case, the something you have is also the device you are using to enter the something you know.  It's working as designed but  it seems unintuitive.

Q: Do you know how many people have used it at this point?

A: We don't have that now but we will have metrics later.  We'll also have data on what kind of searches people are performing.  Some of that will have to come out of SAP, as Google Analytics only provides limited data.

Comment: This is by far the easiest way I've seen to get at the balances.

Q: This is available for medical center users?

A: Yes.  Any faculty or grant manager.  If you don't have any grants you won't see any data.

Comment: We've talked a lot about research computing, and I want to recognize Larry's efforts in this area.  He's helped ensure a more sustainable funding model.  He makes sure you can get your balances, and that we can get our research computing cycles and so forth.

4:40-5:15 - Alumni Network,  Scott Greenwood, Brett Walters, Ginny Cake, Jeremy Bandini - (25 minute presentation, 10 minute discussion)

What it is:  The Duke Alumni Network is a new site that will replace the Duke Alumni Directory, Duke Connect, and the alumni directories of Fuqua, Law, and Medicine.

Why it's relevant:  The Alumni Network project facilitates Duke's growing engagement with alumni, and serves as the primary way for alumni to connect with one another for affinity, career, social, and other reasons.  All Duke units that engage with alumni will be invited to take part, and the university is committed to growing the site over time to fully leverage the possibilities of the medium.

This is a project that's been underway in some form or another for about three years.  It's been about one year that we've been deeply into it, trying to produce actual software artifacts.  Universities all around the country have been working on ways to keep their networks alive between them and alumni, as well as alumni-to-alumni relationships.  Alumni, OIT, and ASM have all been involved in this project.

Brett Walters has been the day-to-day contact within the Alumni office.  Scott has been the operational director in the alumni office.  Todd Orr, Ginny Cake, and other technical resources, including Chris Meyer, Jeremy Bandini, and Richard Outten as well.

This project has been the dream of our current alumni board president for a long time.  Brett has been working on it very diligently the entire time he's been at the Alumni Association.  The idea is to more deeply engage alumni with the institution.  There are some existing offerings, but most don't meet the needs of Duke and its passionate alumni.  We aim for a best-in-class solution for connecting with our alumni.

Part of the reason for our approach is that many of our alumni are not local.  Our situation is different from, say, Stanford, which has lots of alumni who remain the Bay Area.  They don't have the same distant collaboration challenges we do.

We aimed for a single point of engagement, and more personalized news and information catered to the individual alumnus.  This is similar to Amazon's recommendations engine. 

We have 10,000 volunteers in an average year.  These are in Durham and throughout various regions.

Alumni want to connect with one another, but we aren't reproducing what's happening through LinkedIn and Facebook.  We don't aim to compete with these, but to focus on the Duke-specific connections.

The number one request from alumni is: how can I be helped with my career?  Now we have a system called Duke Connect where you can look up occupations and jobs Duke people are involved with.

We also wanted Duke alumni to be able to connect according to common interests; or they can create local special interest groups.  Example: Dallas wine enthusiasts.

For us, these were ambitious goals.  We've had important partnerships with OIT and Todd Orr's group to make this a Duke solution.

Putting these systems together is very complex.  We started thinking about this from a project perspective: what do you want it to do?  What's the look & feel?  How will we make that happen?

We realized we needed an overall project manager; a governance committee (which avoids scope creep); and a design, features, and usability group.  We also had a technical design & infrastructure group.  Tying in with the Duke core systems was really important; establishing the infrastructure that we need now for future expansion.  This has been headed by Richard Outten's group and Jeremy Bandini will join us for the demo.

OneLink allows users to log in without a NetID, using existing social accounts (Social SAML) or using Gigya to allow users without a social presence to create an account.

What happens to an alumni NetID?

They can use their NetID for a year, and currently it then goes away.  Upcoming, students will be able to use other credentials to log in following graduation.  Keeping the NetID in perpetuity is not desirable.

Yes, you can access this system with your NetID.  Once in, OneLink is grants access only to the applications you want.

Technical discussion:

This is behind our load balancer, which allows requests large numbers of users to be transparently distributed to lots of servers to handle the load.

The application framework is Drupal 7.  We're using a memcached for our caching layer to allow quick response time.  Apache Solar is used for all searching.  Mysql is our database.

We will in the future integrate with Cvent, which will allow integration with events, including listing and registration.

2015 Release phases:

We've released 0.7.  Chunks of functionality are being rolled out; this one includes profile and search.

0.8: In early September, several Duke departments will gain access.

0.9: Late September, we'll have regional events, affinity groups, and schools.  This will replace some of the current directories for professional schools.

1.0: November 2015: We'll redirect our current directory and current website to the new site.


Marketing launch.  We've commissioned a firm from Atlanta to build materials and come up with the "why" of engagement.  We imagine this at Duke Forward events and going on the road.

There will be no student access at 1.0 launch to preserve alumni data privacy, until we establish approaches to guide students in the way they contact alumni.  We want the launch to be thoughtful and beneficial for both students and alumni.

We've resourced this well so we won't just launch the product and leave it alone, but we'll continue improving it.

We'd like to explore badges, highlighting an alumn's engagement with the institution, including giving.

Marketing automation - think about how traction builds with social networks, push notifications that call you back to the site.

New communities - Tony Brown of the Hart Leadership Program has his own list of 1,000 alumni.  If we could build something that could help faculty and others keep in touch with alumni, this would be great for Duke.

We aim to measure unique logins, return visitors, and other activity.  Overall, we want to measure the impact on alumni affairs and the schools' alumni efforts.

When we send invitations to alumni, our registration wizard will guide them through the process.

One of the things we've heard from alumns is: you're always asking for my address, and yet I have to change it in four different places.  We're going to provide incentives for them to keep their address current.

This past year we sent 5M emails to 120k alumni.  We're beginning to collect info on what they want to hear about, and what they don't want to hear about, and ways they want to engage with other alumni.

Searches will allow you to filter results using common results.

The unique value we can bring is that we have the Duke data: your activity at Duke and your engagement with us since.

Questions and Comments

Q. Are you putting in a hook for personalized giving opportunities?

A. We would like to in the future.  We're bringing in lots of data from SAP but currently no data on giving.  In the future we would think about adding a widget measuring progress toward fulfilling pledges.

Comment: You may want to look at certificate programs, many of which would like a way to more easily connect with their communities.

Q: Can you talk about preferences: how much is disclosed and what is not?

A: You won't see anything unless you log in and you're authorized as an alumn or an authorized staff member.  We've ported in data from Duke, but we allow alumns to control categories of data that they want to show or not show.  They can view their public profile to verify what information is disclosed.

Q: Where are we storing information on where grads are working?

A: SAP, but not necessarily payroll.  A research group in Development has been collecting such information, as have schools and departments.  Some of that info sits in departments but hasn't been submitted to DAAD/CRM for coding.  Departments may have to change the way they collect: instead of trading email, ask students to update their data in a central place.

Comment: My department has a hard time telling where its grads go if they don't go to grad school.  Departments may be interested in getting a feed, perhaps anonymous, giving metrics on their graduates.  There is potential to use this data if we can do so without violating privacy.

Q: You mention that this is not currently available to Duke undergrads.  What about faculty?

A: We think it's an appropriate thing for faculty to have access.

Q: You mentioned library.  Where would the library information be?  I have had bad experiences fulfilling licenses I've purchased for alumni.

A: A separate EZProxy service is being built for this system for alumni.  This can be put in a single content area for all library resources available to alumni.

To date we've been focusing on: How do we enable the kinds of things the old alumni system used to give access to, and then, there will be tons of opportunities for integration into existing things at Duke.  MOOCs, library, lots of other things we do that have separate systems; this will help people know where to find them and how to get access to data they need.  It's an entry point but will take time to integrate into those systems over time.

Q: How does your database interface with the Development database?  There's concern about tension between greater accessibility and the need for reasonable control.

A: It's the same database.  We will ask people who gain access to abide by certain standards regarding use of the data.


5:15 - 5:25 - Alumni Email Addresses, Charley Kneifel  - (5 minute presentation, 5 minute discussion)

What it is:  Duke Alumni have traditionally had long term emails addresses with sends e-mail) domain.    In the past this was an email forwarding service maintained by OIT.  OIT is provisioning full accounts on Microsoft's Office 365 to support email addresses as well as allowing Duke alumni to have access to a full Office 365 email account

Why it's relevant: Alumni will be able to manage their email and email forwarding via Office 365 and OIT provided self-service tools.  This leverages the Social-SAML integration work done by OIT's Identity Management team and is another service for easy use by Duke Alumni.


In the past, alumni got an email forwarding service: something sends e-mail) could be forwarded to an external service or to Duke.  They couldn't send as that address, and this also meant that Duke's email reputation got a hit as Duke forwarded spam to recipients.  Users could manage forwarding if they knew their password.

New: Alumni will get mail forwarding, but will also get a real mailbox they can send from or send as.  Forwarding will go through Office 365, not through Duke.  Users can self manage their forwarding using Socal SAML and OneLink accounts, which requires less administration.

Alumni will be able to set up a mailbox and create a forwarding address if desired.  This can be changed through the alumni portal or through Office 365.

The Service Desk has graciously accepted the responsibility of handling the OneLink accounts and so forth, which is new for them.  Verifying identity of alumni is very different from verifying identity of active students and employees.


Q: When does this go live?

A: Later this calendar year.

Q: Is there any feasibility of keeping your sends e-mail) and forwarding that for alumni as a lifetime email address?

A: It gets very messy very quickly.  It's not really practical.