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Digital preservation and archives planning

Don’t lose data due to legacy systems

Many organisations hold digital data in out-of-date software. Legacy systems are hardware or software that is outdated making data access problematic. Important information may be lost when the hardware or software fails, when a vendor withdraws maintenance or from incompatibility with newer systems.

Legacy systems cost money to maintain access to data that’s required for legal, compliance or business purposes.

When are legacy systems a problem?

  • Organisational mergers, restructures and changes to official functions mean data and systems are no longer needed
  • Moving data to the cloud renders in house systems unsustainable
  • Information in systems is required permanently or very long term by law
  • Systems cover a range of business areas, leaving authority unclear for retention decisions and requirements
  • Licensing and support costs for legacy systems become too high
Legacy data in an old MS-Doc operating system, By Tony Webster – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Case Study:  System waste at Superpartners.

I work in the Australian financial services sector and heard a very worrying piece of information about Australia’s largest superannuation administrator, Superpartners. Superpartners has a variety of administration platforms that manage the superannuation accounts for millions of superannuation members. Some of the systems are quite old, and some are maintained in-house, so they embarked on a system replacement process a couple of years ago. After a system selection process, they selected the CapitalX system from Synchronised Software and also contracted in Tata Consultancy Services as a third-party integrator.

All was fine on the surface until recently, when some serious holes started to appear and the project missed critical delivery dates. Superpartners management investigated and found that the system could not perform rudimentary tasks. Apparently Superpartners were locked into the contract with Synchronised Software as it did not contain the necessary termination conditions that would allow them to cancel the project.

Some backroom deal was done that saw Superpartners buy the source code of the system for an undisclosed sum. Effectively they bought their way out of the contract. They also sacked Tata. So now Superpartners have spent a truck load of money and they have the source code to a system that does not work.

Apparently the budget spent to date is around $70 million. This is a lot of money for something that does not work. But to make matters worse, apparently they have budgeted an additional $120 million to develop the system internally to a stage where they can actually use it. So a total of around $190-200 million to roll out a new superannuation administration system. This is an insane amount of money, and it is being indirectly paid for by the members of the superannuation funds administered by Superpartners.

From Crickey 17.5.2010

Decommissioning legacy systems involves appraisal and disposal decisions

Planning decommissioning of IT systems starts with an assessment of the value and expiry date. The decommissioning plan covers strategies for access and security, metadata, conversion, migration or deletion, and the strategy for how to get it done. Our records management consultants are expert in legal frameworks for information management and recordkeeping, information retention, digital preservation and metadata. We offer innovative approaches to planning, control and exploitation of information resources to support efficient business activities.

If you want a plan for realising the benefits from ICT systems disposal, without losing your data, contact us to discuss your legacy systems plan.

Archival planning

Managing archives requires a combination of project management and technical skill. Arranging and documenting archival records to industry standards involves researching and collecting metadata about:

  • Provenance (who created the records)
  • Functions (what are the processes or activities documented)
  • Series (what are the structures, arrangement and relationships of records) and item level descriptions so that archives can be searched, retrieved.

The structures for managing archives are important to maintain links and relationships, particularly for digital records, ensuring integrity of the records.

History embedded in tree rings, By Michael Gäbler – Self-made Scan with “Epson Perfection 4490 Photo” from the middle part (size 15,34 × 18,04 cm) of a polished slice of petrified wood from Arizona.., CC BY 3.0,

Planning archive transfer, digital records migration projects

Our records management consultants have extensive experience in developing project plans for large scale, complex archival processing and transfer projects, such as NSW State Rail’s archives and transfer of Sydney Olympic Authority records after the 2000 games, establishing archival repository for Timor Leste, Department of Finance.

Our qualified archivists have many years of experience working in and for archival authorities, to develop a scope of work, project plans and to supervise the execution of archival projects.

Our archival work involves:

  • Project scope and planning
  • Appraisal
  • Retention authorities
  • Arrangement and description
  • Standards for digital archives
  • Digitisation
  • Custody transfer
  • Storage design and standards
  • Access controls

When you need archival expertise to plan and execute an archives management or transfer project, contact us for a practical, informative discussion and an obligation free quote.

Digital preservation

We aim to make digital records self- documenting, ensuring that records have adequate metadata to preserve their context and ensure the authenticity and accessibility of records over time.

We have worked extensively with New Zealand Archives, and NSW State Records on developing their digital records standards and prototypes for the ingestion of digital objects.

Our work in developing metadata standards ensures that digital records systems are designed to capture, keep and preserve digital archives.

Beware of technological obsolesence, By MOS_KIM-1_IMG_4211.jpg: Rama & Musée Bolore-framing: Tomer T (talk)scale:

Our records management consultants have delivered archives and records repository planning projects for: