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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 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 measurable outcomes arising from the existence of a digital resource that demonstrate a change in the life or life opportunities of the community.
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 2.0The 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 https://impkt.tools/). 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 ImplementationsThe 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.
BVI Model Images
These images provide visual overviews of the BVI Model or certain functions within it.
Feel free to download, share and use with attribution as per CC BY 4.0.
The BVI Model in 5 Stages
Conceptual overview of the BVI Model
- Stage 1: Set the context focuses information gathered on the organisational and community context through Strategic Perspectives and the Value Lenses.
- Stage 2: Design the framework populates a defined logical BVI Framework with decisions about what and whom to measure and how to do that measurement.
- Stage 3: Implement the framework is the project management phase, where each of the mini-plans set in Stage 2 is set into action and data is gathered that will, over time, become the impact evidence base.
- Stage 4: Narrate the outcomes and results collates, analyses and turns the evidence into an impact narrative shared with interested stakeholders, especially decision makers.
- Stage 5: Review and respond activities should be embedded throughout to establish the iterative and cyclical nature of impact assessment.
A narrative summary might state the following.
- Rich digital content is available for existing users and new audiences, placing content in every home and hand to share and make new personal experiences. This resource has changed our stakeholders’ behaviour in ways that link to benefits in education, social life, community cohesion, a sense of place and improved welfare. (Social impact)
- Because of these changes we are also delivering substantial economic benefits to our stakeholders that demonstrate the worth and value of our endeavours in clear monetary terms. (Economic impact)
- Innovation in the building of the digital resource and its functionality means that we are gaining a strategic advantage in a vital area of activity for the future sustainability of services and engagement. (Innovation impact)
- This digital resource enables our organisation to be more effective and efficient in delivering change and resultant benefits to stakeholders, both internally and externally. (Operational impact)
In combination, stages 1 and 5 express the essential novel components of the BVI Model. These stages provide an additional sense of perspective on the overall impact assessment. Perspective drives all assessments of impact, and so the BVI Model intends to ensure that perspective is clearly understood and purposefully decided. Impact derives power from providing actionable evidence to decision makers.
Without engaging in the process of understanding context and then applying that context to the review and respond stage of the impact assessment, it is highly possible that the impact narrative and results are partial, unusable or lacking in actionable meaning.
The middle stages (2, 3 and 4) are standard activities in almost any assessment of impact. They are required to fulfil the BVI Model. It is notable, though that it would be entirely possible to ignore the first stage and jump straight to Stage 2. Where this happens, then the BVI Model is set aside. However, there are many situations where impact assessment is an exercise of fulfilling a government requirement, measuring a key performance indicator (KPI) or a simple evaluation. In such circumstances, it may be entirely sensible to jump straight to the process from Stage 2 onwards.
The BVI Model is best suited for memory institutions and presumes that the assessment is mostly (but not exclusively) measuring change within the ecosystem of a digital resource.
A user’s journey through the BVI Model to Framework might look as follows.
- In thinking about the memory institution’s strategic direction, they map their existent documents/policies/vision statements to the four Strategic Perspectives.
- They can then use these to focus on their context, investigating the digital ecosystem and the stakeholders and to analyse the situation of the organisation further.
- These provide a strategic context that allows for decision making about what is to be measured and why that measurement is needed.
- The practitioner can then use the Value Lens to focus attention on those aspects most productive for measurement in that context.
- The Framework (often a spreadsheet – see Templates) can then be completed for each Perspective-Value pairing.
- This output is built into an action plan for implementation at Stage 3, where the integration of what needs to be measured is related to the practicalities of time, money and other resources.
- Once all this planning is achieved, then the implementation is phased according to the Framework, and data is gathered alongside any activity measured. The timeframe might be a few months for one measure and more extended periods for others – the Framework helps to keep it all in sync and not to lose track of the varied activities.
- Once a critical mass of data is gathered such that results can be inferred, then the process can start to move into the analysis; narrated via the four Strategic Perspectives: Social, Economic, Innovation and Operational.
- This narrative acts as a prompt to decision makers and stakeholders to guide future direction and to justify current situations.
- The stage 5 of revision, reflection and respond assumes that there is embedded continuous learning to allow for decisions made in every stage to be informed by the results and to be modified in response to change, to feedback and to success criteria.
Further reflection on the possible institutional benefits derived from an evidence-based decision-making process helps to turn ideas into action and promote sustainable change management. Most importantly, impact assessment should be about making ever deeper connections with stakeholders so as to work with them in response to the evidence and insights gained. This relationship is the most likely means of gaining the greatest benefits for all.