Planning and Watch business case template

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Use this to help develop a convincing business case for the use of the Planning and Watch Suite in your organisation

About this business case template

This template presents generic business benefits, digital preservation risks and costs for applying the SCAPE Planning and Watch Suite in a production environment, followed by an example of how these benefits might be tailored for, and presented in, a specific business case. Elements from this case study are mirrored in relevant parts of the Toolkit (for example the Benefits from this case study are mirrored on the DPBCT benefits template page). This template was developed by the SCAPE Project.

How to use this template

The sections on benefits, risks and costs can be reused by organisations who would like to create a business case for the use of the Planning and Watch Suite, but they must be tailored to that organisation's particular needs, aims and contextual situation. The Planning and Watch Business Case Example shows how the generic business benefits and risks can be adapted to meet the specific needs of a (theoretical) organisation. Developing benefits and risks requires careful analysis, adaptation, use of language and prioritisation as described elsewhere within the Digital Preservation Business Case Toolkit. The Step by step guide to building a business case is a good place to start.

About the Planning and Watch Suite

Planning and Watch is used here as an umbrella term for the suite of SCAPE tools that focus on building a preservation policy, assessing digital content, analysing that assessment, monitoring and interpreting preservation relevant information (preservation watch) and planning preservation action. The tools that make up the Planning and Watch Suite are:

  • Policy Model (developing a preservation policy)
  • C3PO (analysis/assessment)
  • Scout (preservation watch)
  • Plato (preservation planning)

This suite of tools aids in building a preservation policy, understanding the characteristics of a digital collection, analysing that collection for potential preservation risks, monitoring for changes in the collection (or the wider world) that will trigger preservation risks, and then planning, evaluating and executing mitigation for the risks. More information on the function of the suite can be found here: The SCAPE Planning and Watch suite.

Note that the Planning and Watch Suite will need to be used with an appropriate characterisation tool such as FITS or Apache Tika.

Planning and Watch benefits

Use this as a starting point for the benefits of using the Planning and Watch Suite at your organisation. Note that there may be benefits more specific to your organisation or circumstances that are not covered here so do your own brainstorm as well.

Planning and Watch benefit summary

This section provides a summary of generic business benefits for using the Planning and Watch Suite.

Direct benefits:

  • Reduces preservation risk and increases the longevity of digital collections
  • Makes more manageable the assessment, analysis and planning of preservation activities at scale
  • Reduces costs and effort [1]
  • Provides validation of preservation decision making [2]
  • Enables more comprehensive data gathering for preservation watch [3]
  • Makes preservation decision making understandable, repeatable and consistent [4]
  • Simplifies preservation workflows, reducing the number of tools and integration required [5]
  • Makes analysis of digital collections more straightforward and more effective [6]
  • Makes policy development simpler and the results more consistent and interoperable with other processes [7]

Indirect benefits:

  • Future preservation costs are reduced [8]
  • Enhances organisational reputation through collaborative working and sharing of expertise

Notes:

  • [1], [2] and [3] Shared planning and watch data can be re-used and exploited to reduce effort, provide guidance and validation of an approach and to ensure greater watch coverage than could be achieved by a single organisation
  • [4] Following a well tested and carefully defined planning and watch process ensures that decisions are evidence led, are made in a consistent manner, are documented and are repeatable
  • [5] and [6] The Planning and Watch suite combines a host of tools that are designed to interoperate. This significantly reduces the need to set up and operate large numbers of tools (for eg. characterisation tools) and then have to normalize their (typically multi format) output
  • [7] For example, see the Catalogue of Preservation Policy Elements which supports building your own policy
  • [8] Mitigating risks by identifying them early and then taking timely action will make future data management simpler and more cost effective. Catching preservation issues early can often be simpler than fixing them further down the line.

Planning and Watch benefits by SCAPE dimensions of scalability

This section describes generic business benefits for using the Planning and Watch Suite in the context of three of the four SCAPE Project dimensions of scalability. It provides a different perspective on the Planning and Watch business benefits described above.

Number of objects Assessment of large numbers of objects obviously needs to be automated in order to make the process manageable, and this is provided here by the FITS tool. Analysing the results of characterisation at scale can also be a challenge. C3PO makes this analysis more manageable through visualisation and via the ability to focus in on specific (potential) problem areas which may represent only a small (but possibly significant) fraction of the objects that are assessed.

Complexity of objects and Heterogeneity of collections Assessing and planning for the preservation and management of a heterogeneous (in file format terms) collection necessitates a capability that has broad coverage but also the ability to dig deep into a cross section of preservation risks. The Planning and Watch Suite integrates a series of tools that provide considerable coverage while enabling specific issues to be explored and assessed in detail. Developing a preservation policy is essential to ensure that preservation activity meets the needs of an organisation and remains consistent, but it is not an easy process. The SCAPE Policy Model provides tools to simplify the process of creating a policy and then ensure that it can be integrated with other key preservation components.

For more on developing and articulating your business benefits see the DPBCT sections on Benefits, Stakeholder analysis, Who is going to be affected? and How do I make the case for what I want to do?.

Planning and Watch cost elements

Use this to identify key cost elements that should be considered in your business case.

  • Capital cost elements and setup activities
    • Software installation and setup (where applicable: some components of the Suite are available as web services)
    • Testing and trial usage of Planning and Watch Suite
    • Integration with existing systems and services (where applicable)
    • Staff training
  • Operational activities
    • Execute characterisation, assessment and analysis, developing preservation policies, developing preservation plans and (ultimately) executing preservation actions
  • Staffing and specific technology skills needed:
    • Expertise in file formats, preservation planning, command line, software and workflow management

For more on identifying and understanding the costs of your business activity see the DPBCT sections on Costs, Institutional readiness and What resources are we focussing on?.

Planning and Watch digital preservation risks

Use this to understand the key digital preservation risks of relevance to a business case focusing on the Planning and Watch Suite.

The Planning and Watch Suite primarily provides a mechanism to enable identification of preservation risks and the development of a plan to mitigate them. As such it does not predicate the mitigation of specific preservation risks as this will depend on the nature of the data to be preserved. A business case focusing on the implementation of the Planning and Watch Suite may therefore need to describe either examples of specific known risks at the host organisation or give an impression of high level, generic digital preservation risks that may be a concern.

For more on identifying and understanding the digital preservation risks that your business activity is targeting see the DPBCT sections on Digital preservation risks, Understand your collection and Why are we writing a business case?.

Planning and Watch business case example

This example business case applies the Planning and Watch benefits and risks (see above) to a particular (theoretical) organisational situation. It shows how they could be tailored to the needs of an organisation and the likely concerns and interests of stakeholders. It comprises key sections from the DPBCT Template for building a business case followed by explanatory discussion notes.

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Planning and Watch executive summary

An example Executive Summary.

Ensuring the longevity and accessibility of this institution's digital collections remains a top priority. However, for a small organisation with limited resources for digital preservation, knowing exactly when and where action is required is a critical issue. Unnecessary preservation action will deplete limited resources. Insufficient action where it is needed, and our digital legacy is placed at risk.

This business case requests a small capital investment to establish a cutting edge Preservation Planning and Watch function. It will target our resources in the most essential areas, ensuring the survival of our digital collections whilst keeping preservation activity efficient. The Watch mechanism operates using a community model. This will allow us both to share and showcase our unique video preservation expertise and take advantage of skills from elsewhere in areas where we have less experience.

Discussion

Discussion notes explaining the approach in developing the Executive Summary example, above.

This summary assumes that the target audience of this case is well aware of digital preservation issues, and furthermore that those issues are of keen significance to organisational priorities. This might well not be the case in many organisations. In these cases, it may be more effective to pitch preservation benefits in the context and language of more indirect benefits such as future access (enabled by preservation).

For more on summarising your business case and delivering your key messages succinctly see the DPBCT sections on Executive summary and How do I make the case for what I want to do?.

Planning and Watch business activity

An example Business Activity description.

With limited time and resources, monitoring our digital collections, not to mention advancing technology, tools and file formats, is a real challenge for our small collections team. Our institution will establish a Planning and Watch function that will update our preservation strategy using the latest technology. The first stage (defined by this business case) will put in place the Planning and Watch Suite developed by the SCAPE Project. Phase 2 of the project will establish a Preservation Action function that will support the implementation of preservation decisions made by the Planning and Watch function.

The main activities of the first phase are:

  • Train archival staff in using the Planning and Watch Suite
  • Purchase new hardware on which local systems will run
  • Install and setup local components of the Planning and Watch Function
  • Test and perform trial runs of the function to ensure it's effectiveness
  • Transition to Planning and Watch as a business as usual activity
  • Review, evaluate and submit business plan for Phase 2

Discussion

Discussion notes explaining the approach in developing the Business Activity example, above.

A typical approach with this kind of capital investment (even if small) is to break it down into manageable chunks, and deliver it as part of a longer term strategy that ties each phase of a project into a coherent whole. This makes it more manageable and enables management to follow progress and see that the investment is working before committing further funds. For those submitting the business case, this makes it easier to get approval, as long as the work is successful.

For more on developing and articulating your business activity see the DPBCT sections on Business activity, How do I make the case for what I want to do? and Why are we writing a business case?.

Planning and Watch benefits

An example of business benefits.

Implementing the Planning and Watch Suite of software from the SCAPE Project will realise the following benefits:

  • Business as usual preservation activities will be made more effective and more efficient
  • Limited resources will be targeted at critical preservation risks
  • Longevity of our digital collections will be ensured
  • Our reputation for digital preservation will be enhanced via participation in the collaborative Preservation Watch mechanism

Discussion

Discussion notes explaining the approach in developing the Business Benefits example, above.

Cost versus benefit lies at the heart of any business case, but the cost aspect can often be attractive to management. However, these benefits sell the business case not on saving money but on a small capital investment enabling limited day to day resources to expended more effectively. "Do more with less" and "Working smarter" are somewhat trite buzz phrases representing a management mentality that can sometimes be helpful to play on in this kind of situation. This business case is literally applying new technology to do a more effective job with the same resources.

For more on developing and articulating your business benefits see the DPBCT sections on Benefits, Stakeholder analysis and Who is going to be affected?.

Acknowledgements

This business case template was created by the SCAPE Project with the support of the European Union under FP7 ICT-2009.4.1

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