Step by step guide to building a business case
This is a step by step guide to the key activities you need to conduct in order to prepare, plan and construct your digital preservation business case. Note that the related Template for building a business case is ordered in a way that reflects a typical business case structure.
Use this to take you, in a chronological order, through the process of business case construction.
- Is the timing right? Read more on "when?"...
- Do the background reading:
- Assess/review previous DP work at your organisation and note any lessons learned.
- Check if your organisation has a standard business case template that you will need to use. Be aware that your organisation's template may not give emphasis to some important elements of a business case.
- Look at what others are doing.
- Get a copy of your organisation's strategy.
2) Audit your organisation's readiness
3) Assess where you are and what you need
- Depending on the scope and granularity of your activity you may want to:
- Audit your digital collections.
- Assess your organisation for digital preservation risks.
- Assess and understand the characteristics of a collection of digital assets.
- Decide on the main focus of your business case
4) Think hard about your audience
- Who are your key stakeholders?
- Your business case must be carefully targeted at your intended audience.
- Think about what language to use, for example see "What has been found to be the most effective alternate term for “digital preservation” when communicating beyond the library and archives community?"
5) Work out your objectives for your digital preservation activity
- Describe what you want to achieve with the business case and what kind of activity you need to reach that goal.
- Define your scope.
- Provide a brief plan of what will happen and when.
- Identify costs and describe the resources needed (eg. for staff/infrastructure).
- Get a generic list of digital preservation benefits.
- Make a list of benefits for your digital content/collection.
- Map those benefits to your organisation's strategy (prioritise benefits/work out what will appeal to your sponsor).
- Read more on Benefits...
7) What else is required in your organisation's business case template?
- Benefits, risks and costs are core - what else do you need to cover in your organisation's business case template?
- Cost benefit analysis or options appraisal.
- Further detail about what you want to do (implementation plan / project plan).
8) Validate and refine your business case
- Think about what else you need to do to ensure that your business case is complete.
- Review your business case carefully, and seek advice and comment from others.
- Identify weaknesses in your business case. If you were on a board tasked with assessing your case and didn't want to fund it, how would you attack it? Are there gaps in the evidence or unrealistic assertions?
- Compare and contrast your case with others in order to identify missing detail or areas for improvement (see Case Studies).
9) Deliver your business case with maximum impact
- Find out how your business case will be evaluated and consider ways to increase it's chances of success.
- Who is you main sponsor/advocate?
- Create an Elevator Pitch, so you have the right language ready to make your case to potential advocates in your organisation. See these example pitches from digital preservation practitioners at SPRUCE mashup events.
- Persistence may well be required. You may need to re-submit your case at a later date and/or adapt it to the feedback you get on delivering it first time around.
- Consider removing sensitive details from your business case, and then sharing it here for others to learn from.