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This section considers what context and preparations are needed before producing a business case. Use this to establish the best foundation for your business case.

Establish your level of digital preservation maturity

Your organization’s digital preservation maturity can be quickly identified using the DPC Rapid Assessment Model (DPC RAM) which provides a set of organizational and service level capabilities that are rated on a simple and consistent set of maturity levels. The model enables organizations to monitor their progress as they develop and improve their preservation capability and infrastructure and to set future maturity goals. Understanding your maturity level helps in identifying gaps in current capability and areas to be developed in the future.


Understand the history and track record of digital preservation at your organization

Researching the history of digital preservation work at your organization can provide context for your business case, avoid previously encountered pitfalls and ensure learning from previous work. In particular, you should seek to understand and acknowledge investment (e.g. in systems, staffing, training, professional organizational membership) successes, failures, and missed opportunities:

  • Have there been digital preservation business cases at your institution before? If they were successful, can you show that the money was well spent? If they were unsuccessful, can you address or at least acknowledge what went wrong in any new business case?

  • How has your organization’s digital preservation capacity changed over time? You may be able to establish this with DPC RAM scores (see above). 

  • Make sure to acknowledge any existing investment in basic digital preservation services like digital storage, systems, staff, and training.

  • Check whether those responsible for IT provision are aligned with the need for a digital preservation solution and understand what value it brings in addition to storage and fixity.


Assess organizational policies that might impact significantly on future digital preservation activity, including the need for a dedicated Digital Preservation Policy:

  • Do you have existing policies that establish a requirement to preserve digital content e.g. collection policies, records management policy, open access policy. 

  • Consider whether any other policies will be relevant e.g. closure periods or embargos, IPR, data protection, environmental or potential liability issues.

  • Do you have a Digital Preservation Policy? Establishing a policy can provide a helpful foundation from which to build further infrastructure and activity, as well as acting as a useful advocacy tool. See the DPC Digital Preservation Policy Toolkit for more information.


Understand key disasters, risks, and missed opportunities relating to digital content that has already been identified by colleagues, external audits, customers/users, and other stakeholders:

  • Has there been previous data loss, reputational damage or legal damage due to poor digital preservation practice at your institution?

  • Do stakeholders have live, documented digital preservation concerns that need addressing?

  • Has your institution missed out on a benefit that might be obtained by better investment in digital preservation? What benefits are other institutions able to realise that you cannot?

  • There may also be examples where good digital preservation practice has previously “saved the day”/minimised the impact of an event/protected your organization’s reputation.


Understand current staffing, roles, skills and competencies

Successful digital preservation requires skilled staff and a key component of a business case might be a request for new staff and/or additional training and development opportunities. It is, therefore, important to understand which members of staff currently work on digital preservation activities, where they sit within the organization, what skills they have, and where gaps might exist in terms of both roles and competencies. Which members of staff are within scope will be context dependent but may include: digital preservation practitioners, other information management professionals, IT staff, digital content creators, and more. 

The DPC’s Competency Audit Toolkit (DPC CAT) can be used to assess current staffing capabilities within an organization, identifying where gaps exist in relation to current and target digital preservation capabilities as identified during a DPC RAM assessment.


Understand and utilise relevant governance structures

Do you have a steering group or advisory board of relevant stakeholders that can guide digital preservation practice at your organization? Establishing a steering group can provide cross-organizational support, advice and experience of real value to your business case.


Assess the target of your preservation activity: the digital content

Establishing the scope of the digital content to be preserved, which is of relevance to your business case, will be fundamental to understanding requirements and potential solutions.

  • It may be necessary to undertake an audit of current and expected collections within the organization to gather information on the size and nature of the digital content they contain. This information will clarify areas of need and help facilitate decision-making about what should be included within the business case. 

  • To help structure this process and gather the information in a reusable format you may wish to capture the information in a Digital Asset Register, if you do not already maintain one. This will then provide a useful tool for both developing the business case and ongoing management of the digital content within your collections. To help gather the information needed, you may wish to use characterisation or content profiling tools to capture data on volumes and types of digital content within the collections. Information on what tools are available can be found on the COPTR tools registry.

  • For content which you do not currently collect, or which does not yet exist, consult with key members of staff (either within your own, or within comparable organizations if possible) to establish well-informed estimates of the size, complexity and challenges of such material. You must be able to justify and defend any figures derived in this way if they are crucial to your business case, so record your sources and your working even if this will not be included in the final business case.

  • The scale and scope of content may well increase over time. Estimates of how volume is likely to change may help to inform a future proof solution.


Identify systems and workflows currently in use

It will be useful to establish the systems and workflows used to create, manage and store the digital content that will be preserved, as well as the systems they interoperate with. This will help you assess current digital preservation capability, gaps in capacity and associated risks. This will be important for identifying potential improvements and solutions and understanding how these solutions fit into the existing system landscape at your organization. This is likely to require conversations with colleagues across several areas, including IT and administrative staff, any third-party solution providers, and potentially external creators and users of digital content. 


Understand current practice at other organizations

Gain an understanding of digital preservation capacity and practice at other, similar organizations. This can aid with benchmarking your current capacity as well as helping to set the goals that will be achieved if your business case is funded. It may even be possible to learn lessons from others who have already taken a similar challenge to which your business case seeks to address.

  • There may be particular organizations that your organization typically compares itself with, possibly engaging in peer review or collaboration. These might make useful points of comparison for your business case, particularly if they have already implemented work similar to what you are proposing. 

  • If you already have connections with colleagues at similar organizations, you may be able to gather this information through informal conversations. If you wish to make new connections this might be done through membership of networks such as the DPC, the NDSA, or Australasia Preserves or at conferences and events such as iPres, IDCC, or PASIG.

  • DPC members can consult information gathered through a yearly comparison of member RAM assessments - contact your DPC Champion for further information.


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