NINCH: Good project management in a pinch

Chapters 1 and 2 of the NINCH Guide focus on project planning and management and material selection for creating and managing digital resources for cultural heritage items. And while the content is definitely focused more on cultural heritage institutions and easily applicable to academic libraries, its advice on project management is  useful for any kind of digital project (and nondigital projects as well). NINCH suggests beginning with the following:

  • What work needs to be done;
  • How it will be done (according to which standards, specifications, best practices);
  • Who should do the work (and where);
  • How long the work will take;
  • How much it will cost, both to “resource” the infrastructure and to do the content conversion;
  • Where, after having answered all of these questions, one might obtain funding.

To that list, I would add two very crucial pieces for us in the library world at the beginning and end:

  • Consider the needs of the end-user and how they will benefit from the work that needs to be done; and
  • evaluate the stages of work as they’re completed and make course corrections as necessary.

A good digital project is not something you deliver and forget about; it’s something that you build on going forward. As you move on to future projects, looking back, conducting a post-mortem with your stakeholders (such as a steering committee or advisory group) and realizing what worked well and what didn’t is important.

Some questions on this week’s reading:

  • What experience do you have in project management and project planning?
  • While NINCH provides some universal project management advice, it is heavily focused on an academic/cultural institution’s digitization project. Would their approach to managing a digital project work well outside an academic institution?
  • How does a project management plan such as this transfer to other library work — could you implement something like this for a website redesign, a renovation, or a grant application?
  • How does something like this work when you may not be able to gather all your stakeholders in the same room — how does project planning across state (or even international) lines challenge the best practices that NINCH has gathered?

My esteemed colleague mmmeyer3 is going to discuss how material selection fits into project management later today.

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4 responses to “NINCH: Good project management in a pinch

  1. This week’s blogs are particularly timely. I just found out I was hired for an internship at a firm that specializes in genetic testing. In order to comply with Q&A testing assurances, they have to have an archival plan implemented for all their generated reports. I don’t have all of the details yet, but what I have learned they have done the following:
    -scanned in several years of reports as PDFs with the help of a couple of high school kids
    -there is no metadata (actually, in the interview they asked me what metadata was)
    -the names of the files are generic, whatever the scanner program gave them (i.e. scan 1, scan 2, scan 3….)
    -there was no verification of the scans
    -the documents were not OCRd

    These will be my tasks – all in 5 weeks. 🙂 Challenge – ACCEPTED.

    I will be creating my own project management plan with the help of this reading after I get started next week. I cannot wait to dive into the challenge and figure out how to get this archival project rocking.

    Who knows, if I do a great job, it might just result with them seeing a need for a permanent position within their (growing) company. At the very least it will be an amazing internship addition to my CV.

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