Balanced Value Impact Model

About the Balanced Value Impact Model

The BVI Model is a cohesive model to provide a useful definition and process of impact assessment. The BVI Model reflects the broader process of impact assessment and strategic planning. Principles from the BVI Model can be applied in different settings or at a less advanced level. The adoption of the BVI Model challenges organisations to be more evidence-based and to investigate the underlying assumptions driving institutional values and strategies.

The definition of impact is:

the measurable outcomes arising from the existence of a digital resource that demonstrate a change in the life or life opportunities of the community.

The BVI Model is a means to structure an activity for purposes of setting strategic contexts, deciding what to measure and to add purpose, direction and a disciplined approach to the often vague concept of impact. Defining modes of value for digital culture is not solely driven by economics but contain indicators of other more intangible values, even including non-use. This balanced approach seeks to show that the digital resource demonstrably made the host organisation grow better – becoming more efficient and effective in reaching its goals; while stakeholders become more satisfied, finding social, community and educative benefits of tangible worth that enhance society.

The concept underlying the BVI Model follows a process that stresses the importance of distinguishing between actions, the outputs and the outcomes of these actions, and ultimately the impact a memory organisation or its digital presence has on people. Qualitative and quantitative methods to collect data such as usage statistics, case studies, surveys and focus groups are at the heart of measuring this impact. The aim is also to challenge implementers to think of more profound indicators of impact. In particular, the BVI Model encourages a continuous assessment to look beyond the immediately measurable ‘output’ towards the demonstrable outcome, which leads to defining the real impact.

To enhance the reputation of an organisation, it must demonstrate impact through evidence of reaching out to a community, having a positive influence upon society and showing the significance of its activity to the lives and life opportunities of people in its diverse communities.

The BVI Model operates across 5 stages.

Intellectual and administrative journey to the delivery of BVI Model 2.0

The original BVI Model was the result of a funded research commission from the Arcadia Fund (a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin). The goal was to research and test the best methods for assessing the impact of digitised collections, so as to construct a synthesis of methodologies and techniques and resolve these into a cohesive and achievable methodology for impact assessment of digitised resources and collections. This research began as a means of resolving the Arcadia Fund’s concern that they were investing significant sums in digital projects but without the same means of assessment of impact that were available for their environmental funding. It soon transpired that the current state of impact assessment in digital resources was nascent, and thus the path to the BVI Model was born.

Evaluation and impact toolsets were inspirational to the development of the BVI Model in 2010–12, and its continued development to date (Tanner, 2012). There is no shortage of tools and excellent guidance on data collection, metrics and usage figures; but there remained a sense that the full panoply and depth of impact assessment was a goal still to be achieved beyond usage figures or web metrics. As an analogy, if the digital ecosystem is an engine, then BVI Model sought to find its place as a manual guiding the mechanic to understand the engine better. Understanding the engine means knowing which tools to use, and thus how to plan and to use tools effectively.

The development of BVI Model and its revised version, as provided in this book, starts from this consideration, that working at the methods level was far too low down in the process and there were too many methods to make a process that was cohesive and applicable to all its possible users. The BVI Model thus attempts to step back and consider application models rather than just the methods themselves. Over the years, I have consulted with many experts and those with an active interest in impact assessment to gather ideas, and for their guidance on the feasibility of certain core concepts and ideas. I have further tested impact assessment methods and models in expert practitioner workshops, focus groups and social experimentation. I have consulted for various libraries, museums and archives, (not shared here as covered by non-disclosure agreements) and this experience has informed the practice and development of then BVI Model.

Core to the development of the BVI Model to version 2.0 has been participation in the Europeana Impact Taskforce (Fallon, 2017) to advance the tailored development of a practical toolkit for impact design, assessment and narration (the outcomes of this process are available at This is a culmination of previous Europeana partnering, beginning in 2012 with the chairing of a wide-ranging Impact Assessment Taskforce considering the means of measuring the impact of digital resources and the creation of a set of principles or a framework to enable the effective measurement of impact for Europeana and its partners. This work had a strong influence on the Europeana Strategic Plan for 2015–20 (Europeana Foundation, 2014b) and the associated White Paper on implementing impact assessment in that strategy (Europeana Foundation, 2014a). I worked closely with Europeana in 2015–16 to clarify their objectives concerning impact. This work put in place practical recommendations for implementing the BVI Model to carry out, measure, document and communicate the impact of the Europeana digital platform for European cultural heritage (Tanner, 2016a). The case study Workers Underground is an exemplar of impact implementation (Verwayen, Wilms and Fallon, 2016).

BVI Model Implementations

The BVI Model has been implemented or used as a model in a wide range of instances. Some implementations or adaptations of BVI Model are listed next.

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