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Selecting a Digital Collections Management System: Getting Large Projects Done Quickly Using a Practical Approach

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In 2017-2018, the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library selected a digital collections management system in seven months by using practical project management, documentation, and communication techniques to setup workflows, balance schedules, and ensure that all stakeholders had a voice. Session attendees will learn how to take the pressure off of large projects by breaking them down into discrete phases based around producing documentation. Lessons learned will also be discussed, with pragmatic tips to avoid problems in future projects.

Society of Georgia Archivists 2018 Annual Meeting

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Selecting a Digital Collections Management System: Getting Large Projects Done Quickly Using a Practical Approach

  1. 1. Selecting a Digital Collections Management System: Getting Large Projects Done Quickly Using a Practical Approach 2018-10-25 - Society of Georgia Archivists Annual Meeting Cliff Landis Digital Initiatives Librarian Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library
  2. 2. Introductions ● Librarian / Technologist with 15 years professional experience, primarily in academic libraries and archives. ● Currently: Digital Initiatives Librarian ● Maintain digital collections and software ● Joined AUC RWWL in March 2017 ● Obsession of the moment: Women in Red - Botanists →
  3. 3. Introducing the Team! ● Kevin Banks - Principal, Office of Computing and Information Technology ● Michael Chromey - Assistant Director, Collections ● Justin De La Cruz - Unit Head, E-Learning Services ● Robert Fallen - Systems Librarian ● Joshua Hogan - Assistant Department Head, Digital Services ● Karen Jefferson - Records Manager ● Stacy Jones - Processing Archivist ● Matthew Ownby - Project Archivist ● Sarah Tanner - Head, Archives Research Center ● Christine Wiseman - Department Head, Digital Services
  4. 4. The “Motivating Factors” ● Collections split across multiple platforms ● Inflexible functionality ● Increasingly diverse collections ● Limited preservation capabilities ● No ability to administer platforms locally ● Closed-source; no ability to independently improve platforms ● ...and of course, rising costs!
  5. 5. I know what you’re thinking about...
  6. 6. ...but we won’t be talking financials today.
  7. 7. We will be talking about... ● How to manage a project on a tight schedule ● How to communicate efficiently to keep your team on-task and on-schedule ● How to discover what your organization needs out of a system ● How to build consensus using shared documentation ● How to save time & energy by reusing documentation ● How to compare systems against your needs ● How to validate vendors’ claims
  8. 8. Project Management Basics
  9. 9. A New Challenger Approaches! Investigate a replacement for current digital collections system(s), and make a recommendation to library administration.
  10. 10. The Project Management Triangle https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Project-triangle-en.svg
  11. 11. The Project Management Triangle FAST GOOD CHEAP https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Project-triangle-en.svg
  12. 12. A New Challenger Approaches! Investigate a replacement for current digital collections system(s), and make a recommendation to library administration. ● Scope: ○ What functionality are we replacing? What does “good” look like? ○ Who will be impacted by this change? Who are the stakeholders? ● Schedule: ○ When do we need to deliver the final recommendation? What does “fast” look like? ○ What will the follow-up steps be after the recommendation? ● Budget: ○ What is our maximum budget? What does “cheap” look like? ○ Who is on the team? Who is the team’s sponsor? Who will the final recommendation go to?
  13. 13. Phases of Project Management https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management#/media/File:Project_Management_(phases).png
  14. 14. Two types of work: Organizing work, Doing work 1. Set pins up 2. Knock pins down 3. Go to Step 1 https://pixnio.com/sport/bowling/bowling-bowl-alley
  15. 15. Focus on Documentation ● Reduce conflict and vagueness by achieving consensus around documents. ● Organize stakeholders’ work around completing straightforward tasks ● Provide unambiguous instructions for each task assigned
  16. 16. Reducing email pain ● Email out agendas and post- meeting notes ● Invite everyone to “Reply All” for correcting omissions or misrepresentations ● Prefix each project email’s subject line with a short code ● Bold main points, draw attention to requested actions. ● Keep it clear and concise. Don’t explain/think aloud in emails -- facts & actions only!
  17. 17. Soylent Green Archival Science is People! ● Communication ○ Project Management ○ Systems Thinking ○ Rhetoric & Public Speaking ○ Philosophy ○ Foundations of Computer Science ○ Management ○ Human Resources ○ Design (Web, Visual, Universal) ○ Work / Life Balance ○ Reflection & Self-Awareness Archival Science is about people, not objects. If you hate people, you’re in the wrong field. If you hate change, you’re in the wrong field. But when the days get hard, we can all dream of being a forest ranger...
  18. 18. Phase 0: Project Initiation
  19. 19. Initiation: Project Charter ● Specific Objectives ○ Digital Collections: Capability to manage photos, documents, audiovisual, born-digital materials ○ Institutional Repository: Capability to manage electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), faculty publications, and hosted journals ○ Secondary objectives: Investigate preservation opportunities, and journal review process management. ● Conditions, Constraints, and Assumptions ○ Annual budget limited to $XXXXX ○ No additional staff/developer positions ● Deliverables: ○ Recommendation Report due May 15, 2018 (10 months).
  20. 20. Initiation: Project Charter ● Specific Objectives ○ Digital Collections: Capability to manage photos, documents, audiovisual, born-digital materials ○ Institutional Repository: Capability to manage electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), faculty publications, and hosted journals ○ Secondary objectives: Investigate preservation opportunities, and journal review process management. ● Conditions, Constraints, and Assumptions ○ Annual budget limited to $XXXXX ○ No additional staff/developer positions ● Deliverables: ○ Recommendation Report due May 15, 2018 February 28, 2018 (7 months).
  21. 21. Initiation: Project Timeline TeamGantt.com https://www.teamgantt.com/
  22. 22. Gantt Chart https://www.teamgantt.com/
  23. 23. Documentation!!! OSF.io https://osf.io/
  24. 24. Phase 1: Requirements Analysis
  25. 25. Phase 1 - User Stories
  26. 26. Functionalities Themes Institutional Repository Digital Collections Management System Journal Management ETD Management Preservation Setup Report Security Systems Integration Workflow Store Embargo Metadata Preservation Records Access Browse Display Download Search Govern Training
  27. 27. Phase 1 - Requirements Document
  28. 28. Phase 2: Vendor Research
  29. 29. Phase 2 - Request For Information
  30. 30. Phase 2 - System Comparison
  31. 31. Phase 2 - System Comparison Remember: it’s all about communication ● All behavior makes sense in context ● Know your audience. What are the vendor’s goals, what are your goals? ● Assume good faith, but do your own research and verification ● Keep an eye on all behavior
  32. 32. Phase 3: Software Demos
  33. 33. Phase 3 - Software Demos ● Set up webinars ● Request recordings for all sessions ● Ask questions about any odd/concerning responses from the RFI document ● Gather follow-up questions from your team for the vendors ● Create a ranked system comparison list, with pros and cons for each vendor/system ● Develop your short list ● Ask for references
  34. 34. Phase 4: Analysis & Vendor Selection
  35. 35. Phase 4 - Claim validation
  36. 36. Phase 4 - Background Checks & Comparisons ● Call or email to get impressions of the client’s experience of both the vendor and the system (~5 questions) ● Contact vendor’s provided references ● Contact vendor’s clients not provided by the vendor ● Review public interfaces of both groups ● Investigate public interfaces at similar institutions (Oberlin Group, ACS)
  37. 37. Phase 4 - Content Survey ● For pricing, you have to know what you have ○ Collection ○ Current System ○ Size in GB ○ Number of objects ○ Number of “pages” ● Anticipate the growth rate, including any current or forthcoming grants
  38. 38. Phase 4 - Invite RFPs ● Send the short list of vendors a Request for Proposal (RFP) ● Include content survey and growth rate info ● Ask for pricing for three years, broken down by year, with the assumption that all installation/migration work happens in year one ● Include optional packages in your evaluation
  39. 39. Phase 5: Final Report
  40. 40. Phase 5 - Final Report ● Compile information from all previous phases and write draft analysis (part of the final report) ● Confirm pricing structures and anticipated cost growth rate ● Discuss and make selections ● Write final report Appendix A: Task Force Process → ● Pass through sign-off chain ● Deliver report
  41. 41. Phases of Project Management https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management#/media/File:Project_Management_(phases).png
  42. 42. Phases of Project Management https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management#/media/File:Project_Management_(phases).png
  43. 43. Phase 6 - Project Closeout The most neglected phase of all projects, but often the most important... ● Verify scope ● Customer sign-off ● Conduct a lessons learned review ● Write documentation (Project History File) ● Write project final report (if another project will follow) ● CELEBRATE SUCCESS!
  44. 44. ...and then?
  45. 45. Cliff Landis jlandis@auctr.edu

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