Understand your collection

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Understanding your Collection

Preservation of the collection is a fundamental purpose behind any digital preservation business case, regardless of the type of business case being drafted. Convincing business cases must therefore be able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the collection and the context in which it is being preserved. Not all information generated in the process outlined below will make it into the final business case, which should only include the most essential information to convince funders of the need for the proposal.


This is the process that a practitioner should follow to build this section of the business case. This should be a numbered list!

  1. Collection profiling
    1. Purpose: identifying what types of content are in the collection, possible sub-collections, traits shared by all content in the collection, preservation intent associated with the collection, retention periods for the collection
  2. Cross-institutional readiness (different groups involved? e.g. IT, library divisions, vendors e.g. hosted services)
    1. awareness of other cultures or policy contexts within different divisions (e.g. use of cloud or in-house systems) -- what has got a chance of getting through and what will get laughed out of the room?
  3. Digital preservation objectives as part of organisational mission?
  4. Gap analysis - skills, functions, required change (also useful to do comparator analysis with peer institutions)
  5. Ownership, responsibility, accountability - roles and responsibilities, organisational structure, job specifications
    1. clear leadership and communication? collaboration rather than enforcement
  6. Stakeholder analysis - demand, expectations, priorities, awareness/engagement - what are they trying to achieve? How does DP support them?
    1. Examples from different domains? Internal and external, senior management, users, depositors, etc.


This should describe the contents or structure of the business case, resulting from following the Process above Describe the change you want to see in the organisation

  • where are we now
  • where do we want to be
  • timetable
    • staged progression over time? long-term vision and/or small term component of that?
    • continuous improvement? capacity of the organisation to adapt to change?


  • staff time / availability
  • exemplar skills profiles from organisations (in-house might mean local tech skills, hosted might mean project management/procurement/SLAs)
  • training programmes - does this mean change to existing posts? or change to team workloads?


  • approaches to storage/hardware
  • approaches to software (e.g. repository systems)


  • financial preparedness - ability to fund the necessary infrastructure, staffing
  • sustainability of any funding allocated to DP


  • ways to engage? language? (e.g. IT: 'business continuity', ITIL)
  • demarkation of functional responsibilities (e.g. define DP policy vs execute part of it; support and guidance vs mandates)


Thoughts on how to adapt the content of this section to particular scenarios that the business case is focused on. Eg: Risks to consider/prioritise in a business case for a repository system, or Risks to consider/prioritise in a business case for new DP staff, orRisks to consider/prioritise in a business case for a digital preservation service


Notes relevant to tailoring this section to the appropriate audience and communicating the the business case to that audience


These are external resources of relevance to this section. Links can be incorporated into the text above if that is more useful