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Management and Digitization

April 15th, 2010 · No Comments


As I was working on a workshop about process planning for digitization, I came across this quote by Peter Drucker, ”Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”

No matter how pleasant you are (or you think that you are) the bottom line is that the funding and reputation of your institution rests on success.

There is a reason that business principles exist. There is a reason that companies that fail to follow these principles also fail. Few managers of digitization projects have business backgrounds. The number one failure seems to be a lack of project management skills.

There is not enough in the way of professional literature on this topic. Most is focused on case studies that are presented in ways that are specific to that particular project.

We need to try to develop standards or at the least, guidelines that are portable to most projects. A smart manager follows four important rules:

  1. Establish written procedures (aka process manuals)
  2. Develop deliverables (aka due dates and accountability)
  3. Track production (aka cost accounting)
  4. Adjust/improve processes as needed (aka communication and report generation)

In the words of many great politicians, “Let me be perfectly clear, “developing tracking and implementing good project management is not more time consuming than NOT doing it. On the contrary, the risk in not doing it is too great. Why don’t we put the time in to do this deeper structural work? My answer is that most of us do not realize the impact of not doing it.

The number crunching, procedure writing, report generation and pie chart creation is not the most attractive aspect of digitization. Showing the world a digitized version of a little-documented historic event is what pulls us in to this field. Creating tracking forms is NOT why 99% of us enter the profession.

I can’t even count the number of institutions that I have seen go over budget and have to stop in the midst of a digitization project. The lack of ability to manage, project and track costs has stopped some people from even trying. So, I think this is a fair forum to introduce some of these concepts.

Look for a serialized version of “Business Principles for Digitization” to be coming to the blog over the next month.

As always if you have suggestions of what you might like to see, drop me a note!

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Category: Archiving Challenges · Developing A Digital Collection