When someone asks me about archiving digital objects I’m never sure what sort of quality they want. Most of the time someone’s just talking about the lower-case “archive” and maybe a button in Microsoft Outlook or a WordPress plugin. In this case they just want to ‘hide the old stuff somewhere, so they don’t have to think about it’. That’s a real business need, but it’s not true archiving.
But occasionally someone is talking about the upper-case “Archive” and need to plan for a true archival system that is managed by professional Archivists and caters to a specific clientele! In the digital world there are even easily accessible tools like Archivematica which is:
“a free and open-source digital preservation system that is designed to maintain standards-based, long-term access to collections of digital objects. It uses micro-services to provide an integrated suite of software tools that allows users to process digital objects from ingest to access in compliance with the ISO-OAIS functional model. Users monitor and control the micro-services via a web-based dashboard” (Library of Congress, Standards, PREMIS Implementation Registry).
Now once upon a time Microsoft Office had a bit of a bad reputation in the archival world. I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true! This was primarily because Archivists needed to pay for licenses to install, open and use the MS Office Suite on their workstations, especially when they were trying to run a conversion/normalization process. But those tough old days are nearly gone. Today it’s pretty easy to download free MS Office viewers, as well as basic MS Office apps that are now available for free on both iOS and Android (soon).
If this isn’t enough for you and your Archivists, then keep in mind that you can also talk to general Information Management professionals who know the Microsoft stack and can help you set up controlled, automated processes to convert your MS Office documents to more open formats in usual and ordinary course of business. Maybe at the end of such a process (maybe using Nintex Workflow… maybe using Collabware CLM…) you’ll save the files to a shared directory where a system like Archivematica can keep watch, scoop them up and start the true archival work.
If you want to know more about Archivematica and technical & descriptive metadata for archival preservation, start here: