“If you can’t measure it, you can’t control it.”

Martin Robb, National Programme Manager, NDA


I’ve heard this phrase several times since starting work on a digital preservation project with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority here in the UK. Colleagues at the NDA were very keen that as part of our two year project with them, we found an appropropriate way of measuring where they are now in their digital preservation journey and establishing a clear direction of travel.

Maturity modelling was the obvious answer.

As mentioned in a previous blog post we didn’t want to re-invent the wheel, so we did some research, looking at digital preservation maturity models that were available, hoping to find one that was suitable to use in the context of the NDA.

We hit a bit of a problem, finding some of the models to be aimed at a particular type of organisation (eg: traditional archives and libraries), a particular type of data (eg: academic research data), focused towards a particular way of working (eg: the use of open file formats) or covering only one element that needs to be in place to succeed at digital preservation (eg: only the technological aspects).

The maturity model that we felt had most potential, both for the NDA context (and more broadly for all DPC Members) was that that was published by Adrian Brown in 2013 in his book “Practical Digital Preservation: a how-to guide for organizations of any size”. With Adrian’s permission we decided to take this framework and refine and update it to create a new model that we have called the DPC Rapid Assessment Model.

After a few months work, including review and feedback from numerous members of the DPC community, we have finally got to the stage where we can release this to the world. We are really excited to be able to launch this in a lightning talk at iPRES2019 in Amsterdam.

We have only 5 minutes to talk about the DPC RAM this morning but (in case you missed it) here are some highlights:

ram horns

  • DPC RAM is designed to be broadly applicable to any organization charged with managing and preserving digital content for the long term - you don’t have to be a traditional memory institution, you don’t have to hold a particular type of data, you don’t have to be doing digital preservation in a particular way
  • DPC RAM is a community effort. It began with a model that was written by Adrian Brown but has been developed and enhanced by DPC staff and has been actively improved, tested and validated by a cross section of the DPC community (both Members and Supporters). There was a lot of great and really helpful feedback received and the model is much improved as a result.
  • DPC RAM is free for all to access and use. DPC Members will get additional benefits including the ability to benchmark their own progress against others within the Coalition. Of course, DPC RAM will also help the DPC to understand its members better, thus ensuring that member support and resource is directed or focused in the areas of greatest need.
  • DPC RAM has continuous improvement at its core. Digital preservation is neither a one off exercise nor a challenge that can be quickly solved. Understanding where you are now, where you want to be, and how you can incrementally move forward towards your goal is key. The DPC recommend you use the RAM on an annual basis to check progress and assess goals.


So, what are you waiting for?

Go ahead and dive into DPC RAM - we hope you find it useful. Do let us know what you think. Comment on this blog post or via Twitter @dpc_chat #DPCRAM.


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