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Leaving nothing to chance

Ben Saxton, Digital Preservation Lead at Formpipe, explains how a digital preservation platform can help an organisation save money, improve compliance and shrink its carbon footprint

Organisations have come to rely on digital systems and applications for almost every aspect of their business. As well as reducing their environmental footprint and increasing content visibility, the move from manual, paper-based systems to digital provides greater flexibility and agility.

Data management has a vital role to play in this new, digital world. Being able to retrieve human-readable documents and data for business reasons, for clients or for external regulators is a key requirement. The more quickly and accurately this can be done, the greater the financial, compliance and commercial benefits.

As they pursue digitalisation projects and replace outdated applications and systems with modern alternatives, organisations must give consideration to the digital information that is left behind. There is a common misconception that creating information digitally will automatically guarantee its short-term and long-term visibility when what is actually required is a long-term digital preservation strategy.

Digital preservation is a critical element not just of data management but of corporate governance as more stringent regulations dictate how businesses store, protect and preserve digital content that might be spread across mobile devices and diverse corporate systems.

Companies spend a huge amount of money and resources on maintaining legacy systems that are no longer used on a day-to-day basis simply to ensure access to content stored within them. As the volume of data and assets increases so does the price paid by organisations, from higher storage costs and rising fees for data licences to an expanding environmental footprint.

The alternative is a proven approach to system retirement that allows content to be migrated to a dedicated preservation platform, achieving long-term (50 years+) preservation and the ability to reduce costs by retiring multiple legacy systems onto the same platform.

Buying tips
Purchasing a digital preservation platform can be daunting. There is usually a need for internal buy-in to ensure the project has the right level of resource and financial backing, as well as support from senior management, practitioners and other departments, especially IT.

In making the case for a project, it is vital to identify the key driving factor, which could be a positive aim or an action to correct an underperforming aspect of your business, and, at the procurement stage, to develop a User Requirement Specification (URS).

The Data Preservation Coalition (DPC) is a good source of advice on purchasing a digital preservation platform. It can provide examples of a URS and highlight questions that should be asked in any software procurement, as well as key decisions that need to be considered when searching for a data preservation tool, such as open source versus commercial software, whether to take on an enterprise or micro approach and how to approach workflow alignment to the current organisational structure.

In choosing a vendor, it is important to assess their cultural and behavioural compatibility, as the relationship will, by definition, be long-term. Question whether you feel comfortable working with the vendor, whether you trust their guidance and whether it is an organisation that can grow with you. The people who form the vendor’s delivery team need to share your project goals and believe in meeting the project’s driving factor.Similarly, consider the product’s and the vendor’s long-term prospects three, five or 10 years hence. What is their view on adopting new technology and how do they introduce that to their product and clients? Current examples can be seen around the transition from on-prem to the cloud or advancements in automated testing and data assessment. Get an idea of their track record in futureproofing and make sure this is part of the URS or documented alongside it.

One last piece of advice: don’t be afraid to be different! With software procurement, many organisations look to their peers and implement the systems they are using. This can be reassuring, but it might also mean missing out on functionality or a better commercial deal, especially in a sector still in its infancy, like digital preservation.

The Lasernet approach
Our approach to digital preservation is the product of 10 years’ experience in addressing the needs of national archives, government agencies and municipalities in Europe’s most digitised societies, Denmark and Sweden.

The demands placed on the Long-Term Archive digital preservation platform gives us confidence that we can meet all preservation needs, while also providing a repository where customers implementing data migration projects can store data until they decide on its ultimate destination. For the short-term or long-term, it provides a secure and low cost GDPR-compliant solution.

We are now bringing this proven preservation method to commercial businesses, so that they too can enjoy its benefits. These include:

*Cost savings from retiring multiple legacy systems, including hosting, maintenance and staffing costs;
*Better compliance from the ability to search for phrases or metadata and ensure that data and objects are not degraded, lost or accessed incorrectly; and
*Speedy retrieval of information, thanks to features such as the retention of previously saved and shared searches.

A particular benefit of Long-Term Archive is its smooth data migration and ingestion process, even from old and rare source systems – an area where many preservation projects fall down. A visual workflow tool delivers an easy to understand migration plan, with the option of rule-based gateways for data validation, metadata enrichment and file conversions.

Ultimately, Long-Term Archive brings digital preservation best practice to the commercial world, embracing all the tools and functions available and presenting them in a business friendly manner.

Formpipe is a leading developer of ECM-software and Information Quality Management and eQMS software solutions, with thousands of customers worldwide, in both the public and private sectors. Its software enables organisations to capture, process, store, archive and supply information in a systematic and controlled manner. In addition to Long-Term Archive, Formpipe’s product portfolio includes Lasernet, which offers unrivalled integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365, NAV, SAP and Infor, along with other ERP solutions and delivers business documents in almost any format. Its intuitive drag-and-drop capabilities ensure that creating layouts for print or electronic distribution is simple and accurate. Additional functionality supports faster ERP system upgrades; easier maintenance of visual identity, archiving and scanning; more effective management of existing legislation and standards, such as SOX, EuroSox and Basel II. A Microsoft Gold Partner and member of Microsoft’s Technology Adoption Program (TAP),
Formpipe Lasernet is sold and supported through a certified network of global partners.

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