Delivering a project on time, on budget, and with quality doesn’t always mean it’s successful. And even if expectations of cost and speed are met—or were unrealistic—stakeholders are the final judges of the project. In their eyes, the project may be late, over budget, or inferior quality.
People are fundamental to every aspect of an archival project. They commission projects, provide resources, support (or challenge) projects, and produce results. People deliver projects as managers and team members, and others influence projects as sponsors and archival project stakeholders. How people behave and feel about the project influences its success.
Project managers are expected to be both good managers and leaders. Leadership is one of the most critical competencies a project manager must have. Leadership in archival projects is demonstrated through setting the vision for the project and supporting strategy, and creating a shared vision with the team. Archival leaders create an environment that encourages the best in team members, allowing them to develop and learn.
Project managers for archival projects have a wide variety of responsibilities. They oversee activities, serve as liaisons between departments, and facilitate meetings. They hire staff, attend professional development activities, and review instructional materials. This post covers characteristics of effective archival project managers.
Most archives repositories find it a challenge to keep a balance between meeting the needs of their users, their administration, and their collections. The hands-on tasks involved in the daily management of ever-growing collections of digital information leaves little time for conceptual planning of the digital preservation program.
However, institutions need to approach digital preservation holistically, rather than as a series of actions that fulfill the foundational requirements of stability and accessibility. Not only should institutions commit to creating and implementing digital preservation policies, but they need to understand that these actions are part of digital preservation in and of itself.
I want to raise the profile of archivists and ensure that they are supported by their organizations and by an informed public that appreciates the value of their service. The vitality and growth of the field depends upon positioning professionals to be confident voices in a dynamic information environment.
The sustainability of digital materials depends on standard file formats that will last for the long term. As technology changes rapidly, archivists and other information professionals need to use a narrow set of sustainable file formats to retain information between systems and programs. As new formats develop, sustainability must become part of the design process from the beginning to make the efforts of digital preservation successful.
Digital preservation is a series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for the highest utility—and for as long as possible or necessary. Archivists work to save bits and bytes beyond the limits of media failure, software obsolescence, and technological change. The phrase “digital preservation,” however, has been questioned because it may not sufficiently describe what needs to occur for digital materials to be accessible over time.
In this new era, we are creating principles that apply to digitized and born-digital materials, while continuing to acquire, store, and provide access to physical records of enduring value.