Digital Continuity Plan

Digital continuity is an approach to keeping and managing digital information to ensure that it can be used in the way that is required for as long as required, and no longer. 1

'Digital continuity ensures information is complete, available and useable by those with a need for it. It also ensures the information is not kept for longer than needed. Information is useable when you can:

  • find it when you need it
  • open it when you need it
  • work with it in the way you need to
  • understand what it is and what it is about, and
  • trust that it is what it says it is.' 2

Information is a key component of normal business activity, yet information today is more vulnerable than it ever has been. Agencies cannot afford to ignore information management, because lost, unreliable or poorly controlled information can have a significant impact on the quality and effectiveness of decision-making and other aspects of business. Increasingly, information in digital formats comprises a major component of business. As a consequence, digital information management needs to be considered as an integral component of business governance.

Decisions that impact digital continuity should be based on an understanding of risks and the costs and the value of the information. Responsibility for digital continuity rests with individual agencies.

Your agency can use this document and other more detailed advice to formulate and implement a plan to address digital continuity. Your plan should include a staged or incremental approach to digital continuity, addressing areas of highest business priority and business risk first.

Benefits of digital continuity to your business

The benefits of digital continuity include:

  • more efficient and effective business processes
  • increased transparency of business activities and greater accountability to government, stakeholders and the community
  • reduced storage and other costs
  • reduced risks to business of unusable or lost information
  • ability to meet the intent of whole-of-government policies.

About the Digital Continuity Plan

The Digital Continuity Plan, based on six Digital Continuity Principles, will help agencies to achieve business benefits, including efficiencies and mitigation of risks. Agencies should also see the Principles on Open Public Sector Information, which relate to aspects of digital continuity.

The Digital Continuity Plan:

  • identifies the practical outcomes that arise from the Digital Continuity Principles and suggests key actions to achieve these outcomes
  • assists all agencies in the ongoing management of digital information while allowing them to address agency-specific requirements and optimise benefits
  • links to more detailed advice on how to carry out each action, and identifies useful tools where appropriate.

The plan was developed by the National Archives in consultation with a number of Australian Government agencies.

Digital continuity outcomes

The following outcomes arising from the Digital Continuity Principles can be implemented through the Digital Continuity Plan:

  • The benefits of digital information to your business, the government and the community are optimised.
  • People, processes and technology are aligned to support effective information management.
  • Information is fit-for-purpose over its life.

The key actions in the Digital Continuity Plan are aimed at achieving these outcomes. The actions are not intended as a step-by-step process or as a 'one size fits all' solution. Instead it is envisaged that individual agencies will implement the plan using Check-up 2.0 assessments and take into account their own business priorities and risks.

Digital continuity and digital transition

Digital continuity is an approach that focuses on continued management of information that is already in a digital format.

Digital transition addresses the transition from paper and other physical formats to digital formats. Under the digital transition approach, digital formats are preferred over paper formats when reviewing processes or undertaking new initiatives or change.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2016