Processing by the numbers


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How archival processing metrics can help with project management

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Processing by the numbers

  1. 1. Processing by the numbers:How metrics can help withproject planningAdrienne Pruitt, MSLIS, MA, Boston CollegeOctober 27, 2012 Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives ConferenceSession S18
  2. 2. Processing metrics• Why to keep metrics• How to keep metrics• Trends and pitfalls• Encouraging participation
  3. 3. “Statistical measures have a hardness aboutthem – they demand attention, they just won’t goaway, especially when they are published; and Ithink they should shake us up and . . . make uslook more closely at what we are doing.”– Tom Wilsted, “Scoring Archival Goals,” 1977 “Clearly, our incompetence in the area of processing metrics greatly harms both our capacity to plan projects and granting agencies’ ability to fund them.” – Mark A. Greene and Dennis Meissner, “More Product, Less Process,” 2005
  4. 4. Reasons to keep processing metrics • More accurate – and likely to be funded – grant proposals • Better budget justifications • Cost/benefit analysis • Work priorities • Assessment of processing workflows • Donor relations • Benchmarking – in the archival profession as a whole
  5. 5. Participation inthe ProcessingMetricsCollaborative:TrackingStatistics in theMetricsDatabase ProcessingMetricsDatabase
  6. 6. What we track:• Daily activities, by employee, in 15 min. increments• Time spent per series• Format by series and box Define: • Complexity levels • Processing levels • Formats • Collection types • Tracking tasks
  7. 7. Tracking tasks: what and why
  8. 8. Charts by activity, bycollection, by month,by processor, hoursby linear foot
  9. 9. Collection level reportsSummarizes:• collection’s condition• collection type• format• complexity• processing level- things most likely toaffect processing times
  10. 10. Things to watch out for 1. Start-up costs 2. Complexity and processing levels“Do not put your faith in 3. Time spent NOT processingwhat statistics say until 4. Standardizationyou have carefully 5. Clear definitionsconsidered what they do 6. Cost vs. valuenot say.” 7. Staff implementation-William W. Watt
  11. 11. Linear footage wiki page
  12. 12. Oversize items, linear footage, and hours/linear foot
  13. 13. Promoting the keeping of metrics
  14. 14. Sources consulted• Ericksen, Paul. “Beneficial Shocks: The Place of Processing-Cost Analysis in Archival Administration.” The American Archivist, 58, no. 1 (1995): 32-52.• Greene, Mark A. and Dennis Meissner. “More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing.” The American Archivist, 68, no. 2 (2005): 208-263.• Gustainis, Emily. “Processing Metrics Collaborative: Database Development Initiative.” Harvard Medical School Wiki. Accessed September 10, 2012. base• Gustainis, Emily. “The Way We Work.” NEA Newsletter, 38, no. 3 (2011): 4-6.• Mengel, Holly. “The Decision to Minimally Process Should be a Collection-by-Collection Decision,” PACSCL Hidden Collections Processing Project (blog), January 27, 2012, collection-by-collection-decision/.• Mengel, Holly and Courtney Smerz. “PACSCL Debriefing.” Presentation at the University of Pennsylvania, April 22, 2012.• Turner, Adrian. “Project Tracking and Timeline.” Uncovering California’s Environmental Collections. February 23, 2012 (accessed September 10, 2012).• Walters, Emily. “Changing the Landscape.” Accessed September 10, 2012. Questions?