D3.1—Evaluation of Cost Models and Needs & Gaps Analysis
"An analysis of existing research on the economies of digital preservation and curation"
This report "D3.1—Evaluation of Cost Models and Needs & Gaps Analysis" (previously released for comment as project milestone MS12) provides an analysis of existing research related to the economics of digital curation and cost & benefit modelling. It reports upon the investigation of how well current models and tools meet stakeholders' needs for calculating and comparing financial information. Based on this evaluation, it aims to point out gaps that need to be bridged in order to increase the uptake of cost & benefit modelling and good practices that will enable costing and comparison of the costs of alternative scenarios—which in turn provides a starting point for a more efficient use of resources for digital curation.
To facilitate and clarify the model evaluation the report first outlines a basic terminology and a general description of the characteristics of cost and benefit models.
The report then describes how the ten current and emerging cost and benefit models included in the evaluation were identified and provides a summary of each of the models. To facilitate comparison of the models, it also provides tables that lists each of the models' core features, such as which information assets they handle, which curation activities they address and how they breakdown costs.
This is followed by an in depth analysis of stakeholders' needs for financial information derived from the 4C project stakeholder consultation.
The stakeholders' needs analysis indicated that models should:
- support accounting, but more importantly they should enable budgeting
- be able to handle various types and amounts of assets and use cases
- have a sound definition and breakdown of costs and enable modelling of cost variables
- be supported by easy to use tools, preferable with default values/settings
- support assessment of the benefits and value of digital curation
These needs were used to inform an analysis of the previously identified models to identify gaps in the models capabilities to meet user needs (as defined by the stakeholder analysis). The most important gaps we discovered were associated with:
- poor usability
- lack of reliability
- lack of consensus on how to define, qualify and structure cost data
- lack of representation of the benefits of the investments in digital curation
On top of the needs and gap analysis, we identified actions which, if practical and possible may support the uptake and inform further development of cost & benefit models within the digital curation field. These recommendations for investigation and action include:
- provision of a high-level quick entry guide to all existing models that describes the scope and structure of the models indicating their relevance for different stakeholders and use cases
- provision of a vocabulary and a generic description of cost & benefit models
- provision of clearly designed and user-friendly tools with default reference settings that can be fine-tuned to accommodate for various stakeholder needs, and usable user-interfaces
- provision of benefit models in addition to the cost models
- provision of a shared knowledgebase with cost data and use cases
Finally, we have developed a set of good practices proposals for developers of models within the field of digital curation, and here, as in many other areas, the most important point is to keep it simple.