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The Make it Digital scorecard is a decision making tool for organisations wanting to select and prioritise content for digitisation to improve access.
Based on a good practice digitisation framework, it is focused on assisting with diverse material that cannot easily be compared. The goal is to improve consistency and transparency in decision-making over time.
While the scorecard is designed to be flexible, its intended focus is on making content digitally available to the public. This may mean that for digitisation of privately held material or content for office-oriented information retrieval systems, some criteria are not relevant, while other important considerations such as legal record-keeping requirements are not covered. We would however be interested in feedback from those who are interested in the possibility of such applications, and invite such users to adapt this tool’s methods for their own purposes.
The scorecard may be particularly useful for those on limited budgets starting out on a digitisation programme for the first time, or those building a new digital collection that draws on a number of non-digital sources. It is also designed to be useful for funders and budget holders wanting to prioritise resources.
By design, a team, group or committee with decision-making ability is expected to use the tool and agree on final scores through discussion.
In circumstances where a decision has already been made to digitise particular material the scorecard will be less useful. However it may still act as a checklist to verify the soundness of those decisions.
Government agencies and businesses with specific record-keeping obligations but with an interest in public access, should in the first instance refer to their own information management practices and policies. These are likely to address core requirements for digitisation of records and care or disposal of originals.
Use of the scorecard cannot substitute for having good information and organisation of the materials you plan to digitise. Nor can it substitute for appropriate policies for acquisition, retention and disposal of materials your organisation holds. The scorecard relies on the judgement of users to evaluate the scores and results in reference to those policies.
We have developed a pre-selection checklist that can be used as part of the tool to help you determine whether you have the basics in place to manage a digitisation programme. If you have not undertaken digitisation before on any significant scale, we recommend that you undertake this self-assessment before getting started.
The Make it Digital scorecard is not designed to be a cost-saving tool, although some of the criteria involve assessment of costs. While digitisation is in our view a desirable strategy for increasing both short and long-term access to content, it is rare that the cost of managing digital content over the long term is cheaper than the cost of managing non-digital content. Format obsolescence and storage hardware failure, for instance, are two factors that can contribute to higher costs.
The Scorecard derives its criteria from the good practice digitisation framework, and assesses each according to the weighting you give it. Where a criterion is not important or is of little importance, it is removed or discounted. This means you are only scoring criteria that are relevant to you, your organisation, or your digitisation programme.
This approach also allows you to tailor the Scorecard to each specific digitisation programme you intend to run. For instance, you may run one programme based on preservation work and another based on developing searchable digital resources. Each programme can be given its own weighted scorecard according to the purpose and outcome you expect to be met.
The scorecard criteria
Alternatively, you may want to assess quite diverse content and purposes with one consistent set of criteria. The Scorecard allows you to set that criteria in line with your priorities and then apply it to multiple items in one process.
There are three steps involved in using the Scorecard:
The pre-selection work is aimed at organisations that have had little experience at undertaking a digitisation programme or a selection process for digitisation. It includes a capability checklist as well as the first set of Scorecard criteria focused on practicalities like scoping candidates and ensuring copyright clearances. These first criteria are not weighted, as they are essential steps to every good digitisation effort.
The second step involves weighting the remaining criteria according to whether they are important, not important or may be important. This weighting will determine the number of criteria that are relevant to you, and should provide clarity on what you want to achieve. The criteria have been designed so that it is possible but unlikely for all of them to receive the highest weighting. Weighting should be solely relative to the other criteria you are scoring – the importance measure is not a judgement or reflection on the importance of your organisation’s activities in general.
The final step involves making the assessment of how well a candidate fits against your weighted criteria. In making this assessment, it is important to assess what will actually be delivered at the end of the digitisation process, not what can potentially be delivered. For instance, a digitised item that transcends the original will almost certainly require a software delivery mechanism to enable this – if implementation of the mechanism has not been factored in, then the candidate is unlikely to be a good fit.
The more criteria that are met or exceeded, the higher the priority of the candidate. Where different candidates meet or exceed the same number of criteria, those with the highest scores are a better overall fit. If need be, criteria that are only partially met can also be reviewed to determine if the fit can be improved by amending the proposal.
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