Before making progress with any digital preservation challenge it is essential to gain an overview of the problem you are trying to solve - what exactly is it that you are trying to preserve and why? An initial high level scoping exercise should be carried out to give you an overview of the record keeping system that you are dealing with, the types of record that it contains, the value of the content and the important characteristics that must be preserved. Some of this will be obvious to you, but it is worth documenting what you are doing and why at a high level. Further stages of this process will take you deep down into the details of the challenge and it may be helpful to be able to step back and remind yourself of the high level task that you set out to achieve. Having this information at your fingertips will also be handy when talking to colleagues and could even form the basis of a quick ‘elevator pitch’ that describes what you are doing and why.

The following high level questions can be used to help articulate what you are trying to achieve:

  • What - what needs to be preserved? Note that within a record keeping system, there may be a mix of records and not all will need to be preserved for the long term.

  • Where - where are the records stored currently? Where do they need to go?

  • Why - why does this work need to be carried out? What is the value of the content? What are the implications if the records are lost?

  • When - when does this work need to be carried out? Is there a date that the system will be decommissioned or become unsupported?

  • Who - who owns the record keeping system? Is it an internal system or one that you are accepting from an external donor or depositor? Who needs to access the records (both now and in the future)? What will they use the records for?

  • How - how will users find the records they need? How will they access those records?

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