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Friday, January 20, 2012

TRAC: A4.1: Business planning

A4.1 Repository has short- and long-term business planning processes in place to sustain the repository over time. 

The repository must demonstrate that it has formal, cyclical, proactive business planning processes in place. A brief description of the repository’s business plan should show how the repository will generate income and assets through services, third-party partnerships, grants, and so forth. As for A1.2 (succession/ contingency/escrow planning), the repository must establish these processes when it is viable to avoid business crises. These questions may be pertinent to this requirement:
  • Under this plan, to what extent is the repository supported, or expected to be supported, by revenue from content-contributing organizations and agencies, such as publishers?
  • To what extent is the repository supported, or expected to be supported, by revenue from subscribers or subscribing institutions?
  • What measures are in place, if any, to limit access by nonsubscribing stakeholders?
  • What financial incentives are offered, if any, to discourage subscribers from postponing their investment in the repository? From discontinuing investing in the repository?
  • To what extent is the repository supported, or expected to be supported, by other kinds of parties?
  • How will major future costs, such as migrations, capital improvements, enhancements, providing access in the event of publisher failure, etc., be distributed between publishers, subscribers, and other supporting parties?
  • What contingency plans are in place to cover the loss of future revenue and/or outside funding?
  • In the event of a catastrophic failure, are reserve assets sufficient to ensure the restoration of subscriber access to content reasonably quickly?
  • If this is a national or government-sponsored repository, how is it insulated from political events, such as international conflicts or diplomatic crises, that might affect its ability to serve foreign constituencies? 
Evidence: Operating plans; financial reports; budgets; financial audit reports; annual financial reports; financial forecasts; business plans; audit procedures and calendars; evidence of comparable institutions; exposure of business plan to scenarios.




An awful lot of this TRAC requirement is met simply by being a unit of the the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.  (This will be a recurring theme across a lot of TRAC A4.)  The U-M, like most large universities, has an elaborate bureaucracy for managing budgets and expenditures, and producing a cornucopia of reports, statements, and other fine documents.

In addition, like a lot of non-profits across the US, ICPSR produces an annual report that it makes available publicly, and this contains high-level documentation for both planning and reporting.  For example, the ICPSR annual report includes a breakdown of revenues and expenses across major areas, and usually contains several essays on recent accomplishments, upcoming initiatives, and areas of focus for the upcoming fiscal year.

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