Although successful digitization projects are developed collaboratively, Leigh Grinstead says that the project manager is the main person responsible for maintaining the vision of the project. This was my key takeaway after last week’s webinar, “Project Management and Workflow for Digitization Projects.”
“It’s that project manager that holds on to the vision, and uses it as the ultimate motivator,” she said. “You need to act as the project’s advocate. You will also need to consider everyone’s expectations.”
This was my second Lyrasis webinar hosted by Grinstead. The 2-hour webinar focused on the project manager’s responsibility in making sure a digitization project’s vision comes to fruition. This includes meeting the expectations of supervisors, staff and stakeholders.
What also stood out to me is that most of the webinar participants did not have a digitization mission statement at their organization. Grinstead said that this is common. Some stated that they were currently in the process of creating one. Several examples of a digitization mission statement from various university libraries across the U.S. were presented in the webinar. Some were short and concise. Others were more extensive in detail.
Those new to project management or management positions in general were introduced to the idea of “doing” versus “managing.” Grinstead said that this is one of the hardest transitions a first-time manager undertakes, in addition to determining what their management style should be.
Figuring out your management style, she said, will depend on the institutional culture and the personality of the staff. For example, a manager with only volunteer staff may have a more flexible management style than they would with paid staff–or in my case, student assistants. Also, thinking about past supervisors regarding what you liked most and/or least about their management style is a great way to determine your management style, she said.
Of course, having the proper hardware and software for digitization projects is important. Grinstead said that she visited many institutions that do not have digital image collection management software in place, such as DSpace. These institutions are in the beginning stages of their digitization program, and some even outsource their projects to vendors.
I liked the concept of performing a pilot project for exceptionally large digitization projects that are to be completed in-house. This was explained by digitizing just one-fourth of the project in order to examine all elements of the project and overall budget costs, and to see if it is worth going forward with completing the entire project.
Budgeting typically includes staff, which in many cases is the largest part of the budget. But Grinstead said that most cultural heritage institutions frequently have difficulty considering overall staffing expenses in their overall costs.
“Things will happen”
As with all things dealing with technology Grinstead said “things will happen.” Most of us are aware of typical setbacks regarding hardware and software malfunction. She also reminded us to have plans in place for the unforeseen, such as bad weather storms and even staff departures.
Much of what was covered in the workflow portion of the webinar was discussed in her previous webinar. So this part of the webinar was more so a refresher. But it was interesting how she raised the idea of incorporating a pilot project within the workflow.
For instance, incorporating a pilot project can help estimate the time it will take within key workflow steps such as adding metadata, performing quality control, digitization, editing, and creating derivatives (access files, thumbnails, etc.). Knowing this will provide an ever better estimate of how long the entire project will take.
Currently we use Trello to keep track of our projects’ workflow. Webinar participants listed other software that they use including Microsoft Project, ProcessMaker, Smartsheet and even Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
“Having something, anything to organize and begin that process is important,” Grinstead said.