Tracking your digital preservation journey with DPC RAM

Jenny Mitcham

Jenny Mitcham

Moving forward in digital preservation can be difficult unless you have a sense of both:

a) Where you are now…


b) Where you would like to be

Maturity modelling can be a helpful way of really getting a sense of these two things. By doing so, you will highlight gaps in your current capabilities and demonstrate where resource and effort is required to move you forward and closer to your goals.

In a previous blog post, Sarah Middleton talked about the importance of internal advocacy to facilitate making progress with digital preservation. Carrying out a maturity modelling exercise can help you in this in a couple of different ways:

  1. Firstly, as a method of communicating with colleagues whilst carrying out the exercise. You may find that you don’t have all the answers you need, but by taking the model to colleagues, you can start a useful conversation with them about how your digital preservation needs are being met at the moment, and start to raise awareness about digital preservation at the same time.
  2. Secondly, once your maturity modelling exercise is complete you can use it as a communication tool for talking to senior managers within your organization. There may be ways to condense the information down into a quick or easy graphic or table that effectively conveys the current situation and key gaps in digital preservation provision. It can be helpful to use a community-validated model or standard for this purpose as it demonstrates that your goals are based on recognised good practice within the sector.

So, where to start?

Last year the Digital Preservation Coalition developed a new maturity model for digital preservation called the Rapid Assessment Model (or DPC RAM) for short. Read all about it and download the model here:

This model isn’t actually entirely new, being based on a previous model created and published by Adrian Brown in his book Practical Digital Preservation: a how-to guide for organizations of any size (2013). With Adrian’s blessing (and helpful feedback) we altered and enhanced this model and released it to the wider digital preservation community. The work was carried out in conjunction with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the UK and incorporated feedback from many of our Members and Supporters.

The model was created with the following guiding principles in mind:
● We wanted it to be easy to use and quick to apply
● We wanted it to be applicable for any organization that has a need to preserve digital information for the long term and for any type of content
● We wanted it to be based on current digital preservation good practice

So we’d like to encourage you to give it a go. It shouldn’t take too long and if you download the Excel worksheet that goes along with it, you can very quickly and easily produce a visualization of where you are and where you would like to be – a great communication tool to share with colleagues when talking about your digital preservation plans and resourcing needs.

This is still only the start of your digital preservation journey but after carrying out some basic maturity modeling at least you will give yourself a clearer sense of where you are now and where you want to go. Starting a journey is so much easier when you know which direction to set off in!

Jenny Mitcham, Head of Good Practice and Standards for the DPC