Principles, Assumptions, Constraints, Risks

The export utility to move the PAWDOC files out of the Fish document management system and into files residing in Windows Explorer folders, has been completed by the Fish supplier, m-Hance. Broadly speaking, it will deliver files with a title which starts with the Reference Number; then has three spaces followed by the file description that I originally input to Fish (truncated after 64 characters); and ending with the date when the file was originally placed in Fish. I have already received the utility documentation which provides full instructions of how to install and run it and am confident I know what to do. So all that remains is for me to receive the utility (which I expect early next week) and to give it an initial test run on the PAWDOC collection in Fish.

I’ve already created a full draft of the Project Plan Description document and the Project Plan Chart, so the test run will inform me of any final changes that I need to make to the plan. After that, all that will be left to do is to fix an overall start date and then to insert the start and end dates for each task.

One part of the Project Plan Description that was of particular interest to construct was the section on Principles, Assumptions, Constraints and Risks. Since some of them really require expert digital preservation knowledge and experience – commodities which I don’t have – I’ve sent these out to my colleagues Matt Fox-Wilson, Jan Hutar, and Ross Spencer in the hope that they will let me know of any serious errors of judgement that I may have made. The text of the section I sent them is shown below:

Principles

The Principles below have been followed in the construction of this Project Plan, and will be applied throughout the performance of the project:

  • No action will be taken which will increase the cost or effort required to maintain the collection
  • Backup, disaster recovery and process continuity arrangements are considered to be significant factors in ensuring the longevity of a collection and will therefore be included as an integral part of this preservation project plan.
  • All Preservation actions on individual document files will be undertaken after the files have been transferred out of Fish into stand-alone files in Windows folders, so that a substantial number of transferred documents will be subjected to detailed scrutiny thereby improving the chances of identifying any generic errors that may have occurred in the transferrence process.

Assumptions

The Assumptions below have been followed in the course of constructing this Project Plan.

It is assumed that:

  • The analysis of the files remaining in Fish after the ‘Export and Delete’ utility has been run, will take no longer than three weeks elapsed time.
  • There is no publicly available mechanism to convert Microsoft Project (.mpp) files earlier than version 4.0.
  • There is no publicly available mechanism to convert Lotus ScreenCam (.scm) files produced earlier than mid 1998.
  • Application and configuration files that were included in the collection do not need to be able to run in the future as they do not contain content information. The mere presence of the files in the collection is sufficient.
  • The zipping of a website is currently the easiest and most effective way of storing it and providing subsequent easy access.
  • Versions of Microsoft Excel Word from 1997 onwards are not in immediate danger of being unreadable and therefore require no preservation work. Earlier versions are best converted to the latest version of Excel that is currently possessed – Excel 2007.
  • Versions of Microsoft Word for Windows from 6.0/1995 onwards are not in immediate danger of being unreadable and therefore require no preservation work. Earlier versions, including those for Macintosh, are best converted to the latest version of Word that is currently possessed – Word 2007.
  • Versions of Microsoft PowerPoint from 1997 onwards are not in immediate danger of being unreadable and therefore require no preservation work. Earlier versions, including those for Macintosh) are best converted to the latest version of PowerPoint that is currently possessed – PowerPoint 2007
  • None of the versions of HTML, including those pre-dating HTML 2.0, are in immediate danger of being unreadable; and therefore no preservation work is required on any of the Collection’s HTML files.

Constraints

This project may be limited by the following constraints:

  • Some of the disks and zipped files in the collection contain huge numbers of files of various types and organised in complex arrangements. To address the preservation requirements of these particular items could delay the project indefinitely. Therefore no attempt will be made to undertake preservation work on these items; but, instead, a note will be included in section 3 of the Preservation Maintenance Plan (Possible future preservation issues).
  • Disks that can’t be opened must remain in the Collection in physical form only.
  • No automated tools are available for undertaking conversions of large numbers of files; and the use of macros has been discounted as being too error-prone and risky. Therefore, all the Preservation work defined in this Project Plan has to be undertaken manually by a single individual.

Risks

There is a risk that:

  • The Zamzar service may be unable to convert some of the files submitted to it, despite tests having been completed successfully.
    Mitigation: record the need to take further actions on specified files in the future, in section 3 of the Preservation Maintenance Plan
  • The analysis of the files remaining undeleted after the Fish file export has taken place, may throw up unexpected issues and may take much longer than anticipated. Mitigation: After two and a half weeks work on this activity, the issues will be recorded in a document, and the need to address the issues in the future will be recorded in section 3 of the Preservation Maintenance Plan.

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