D4.2—Community Validation of ESRM

"an assessment of Community Validation of the Economic Sustainability Reference Model designed to
comprehensively gauge the ESRM's fitness for purpose and utility for the wider community"

Executive Summary

The creation of the Economic Sustainability Reference Model (ESRM) pre-dated the 4C project and was conceptually very influential in the formulation of the project. The purpose of including it as an explicit strand of project work was to further refine the model and to do so in response to an extensive community evaluation of its suitability and utility.

A series of engagement activities was designed to showcase the ESRM model and to gather feedback about it from different stakeholder groups. Internal 4C consortium discussions also took place to shape and refine the model. Input was also sought from the 4C Advisory Board. The ESRM was presented on at least 27 different occasions to a total audience of between 600-800 people and was discussed at various focus group and workshop sessions where more detailed input was gathered.

The headline points made by the community in response to the ESRM were:

  • The purpose of the model needs to be clearer and more practical
  • More user guidance is required
  • The model doesn’t map well onto all working domains
  • The terminology and definitions need more attention
  • Senior managers are unlikely to engage with the model without mediation
  • There is not enough acknowledgement of organisational contex
  • There is a problem with the way that the concept of ‘value’ is articulated in the model
  • It is not obvious how the ESRM joins up with other resources
  • There are some things missing or not visible enough in the model

The detailed feedback and the general community preference to make it more useful signalled the need (and the demand for) a model that shifted focus from the economics of sustainability towards the more practical issues of sustaining digital assets and sustaining the digital curation services that sustain those assets. With this in mind a decision was taken to ‘fork’ development of the ESRM and to create a new model called the Digital Curation Sustainability Model (DCSM). The DCSM is neither an ‘economic’ model nor a ‘reference’ model and is sufficiently different to the ESRM to warrant its existence as a separate (though closely related) entity.

The current purpose (as of February 2015) of the DCSM is to complement and enhance the advice and guidance available to the community and to provide those with responsibility for digital assets and curation services (practitioners) with a systematic way of considering and discussing sustainability issues with senior managers and funders/investors (strategists). The DCSM takes over from the ESRM as the principal output of the 4C project task on sustainability and will be hosted and maintained on the Curation Costs Exchange (CCEx) community platform.

The ESRM work has proved to be a very valuable framework and mechanism for engagement with the community and also a useful vehicle for discussion within the 4C project consortium about the way that different modelling activities (costs, benefits, economic and business) all relate and overlap with each other and share components.

icon D4.2 - Assessment of Community Validation of the ESRM (1.34 MB)