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KeepIt Course 5: DRAMBORA: Risk and Trust and Data Management

KeepIt course module 5, Northampton, 30 March 2010
Tools this module: TRAC, DRAMBORA
Tags Find out more about: this module KeepIt course 5, the full KeepIt course
Presentations and tutorial exercises course 5 (source files)

“The Digital Repository Audit Method Based On Risk Assessment (DRAMBORA) was developed by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and DigitalPreservationEurope (DPE) to assist repository management and staff to identify, assess, manage, and mitigate risks.”

Our expert leader for this session was Martin Donnelly from DCC, who joined us at just a couple of days notice, flying from Edinburgh and hopping into a hire car to reach Northampton before opening the presentation, all in a morning.

Here Martin shows how to apply the DRAMBORA methodology with a risk management exercise, and how to use the online interactive version. The presentation concludes with a view of how DRAMBORA complements DAF, effectively bringing the KeepIt course full circle, because DAF was the first tool we encountered back in course 1. First, we consider the relation between risk and trust.

[slideshare id=3664701&doc=keepit5-dramboranorthampton-given-100408053617-phpapp01]

I first came across DRAMBORA following its launch announcement and I registered for a guest login to try it. My initial impression was of a complex and awkward tool, and that wasn’t just the login process. It seemed to be engineered for perfect archiving scenarios, and expectations of comprehensive use seemed unlikely to be realised by typical repositories, given the estimated 28-40 hours to complete a full audit. It probably didn’t help that I wasn’t anticipating or trying to fulfil a real task when exploring the new tool.

I next encountered DRAMBORA in one of the DCC’s 101 lite courses (like this one). It wasn’t referred to as DRAMBORA, but I recognised the fingerprints. We were given a small group exercise to assess a single risk. Suddenly it became clearer. It is possible to apply the elements of DRAMBORA and build the bigger picture as needed. In other words, fit the tool to the task, not the other way around. DRAMBORA is well structured for this, and the benefits of this approach have been realised for the institutional repository of the LSE.

What these risk scenarios and exercises reveal is the degree of team building necessary to manage risk associated with digital content produced across large institutions.



The DRAMBORA method is based on discrete phases of (self-)assessment (see illustration left). In comparison with TRAC, we saw that self-assessment is a key feature that differentiates DRAMBORA. This method requires institutional and contextual profiles, and a detailed understanding of a repository’s activities and ‘assets’, an approach that recalls the work done earlier in the course with AIDA. At this point it becomes possible to identify the risks that might impact the repository. These risks then need to be itemised and assessed individually. The intended outcome is a a strategy for managing the risks

So, what is risk, and how is it handled by DRAMBORA?

  • Definition: risks describe challenges or threats that impede the achievement of repository objectives, obstruct activities, and prejudice the continued availability of essential assets.
  • In DRAMBORA, risks have several attributes: probability, impact, severity (a derived value, p*i), owner(s), and management strategies.

What does a risk look like, and how can we elaborate one? A large set of sample risks is provided in the Appendix to the original paper-based DRAMBORA methodology (registration required).

Slides 42-43 tabulate the anatomy of a risk. To try this out we have an exercise (slides 45-47), designed to take 1h. First, identify one risk (based on your own experiences wherever possible), and complete the DRAMBORA worksheet (.rtf format). In part 2, you will identify what steps your repository might take to manage and mitigate the identified risk over time. Or you can learn from one user’s experience of trying this exercise.

As an alternative to the paper-based process, try DRAMBORA Interactive, which guides users smoothly through the audit process, with built in features for reporting. The presentation provides a step-by-step guide to DRAMBORA Interactive (slides 52-90), or treat this as a revision for the first half of the presentation.

One of the more intriguing features of the Interactive version is snapshot view (slides 88-89). This records the state of a repository at a given moment in time, and can be compared with other audit snapshots to track changes.

DRAMBORA has interesting connections with DAF, the Data Asset Framework. Both were developed at the DCC and are “self-management tools to assess the effectiveness of approach to data management or preservation”. Where DAF emphasises the researcher-data axis, DRAMBORA is more repository-process focussed (slide 94).

Coming soon is the data management tool, a combination of DAF, AIDA, LIFE and DRAMBORA. The KeepIt course is indebted to them all for framing the course from start to finish, and for providing a rich set of tools for repository managers to tackle the challenge of digital preservation.

DRAMBORA is the final tool to be covered in this KeepIt course. All that remains to complete the course is revision and evaluation.

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