Assessment Project Management in the Real World - Hour Two


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2009 ACRL Conference - Workshop
Co-presenter: Joanna DiPasquale

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  • Now that we know our team, how do we figure out what to do? I find that an assessment project usually gets sticky when we jump into “what questions to ask” to soon. These steps will help us understand what our project is, what information we need to gather, how, and from whom. These often seem like things that everyone should already know about the project. Assume nothing! Put everyone on the same page; project management is an expectations game.
  • This is often the “charge” in a library. Is it specific enough? Do you all interpret the scope in the same way? Boundaries are important! Where does the project stop and start? If you’re coming into an pre-existing project and are only charged with doing the “assessment” portion, the group may have the overall project scope available. If not, you may need to work with them to define it. “ The LibQual assessment project will entail the purchase, preparation, distribution, and data analysis for the LibQual+ survey. This project will include outreach to staff. This project will produce recommendations for strategic planning. This project will not include follow-up focus groups or interviews.” Everyone should agree to the scope, and clarification should be sought until all parties are satisfied – transparency !!
  • Less is more – we’re trying to FOCUS and avoid scope creep! We’re often given a “charge” – and to me, these are relatively useless. I’m an ESTJ, and I want clarity, direction, specificity, which comes in handy when you’re developing objectives. Be exhaustive, list everything. Control your scope. Can you actually achieve all of the objectives? Make sure you have all of the people and resources you need to achieve your objectives. Note if something is out of reach. As always, make sure everyone involved in the project agrees on the objectives. Make SMART objectives: Specific, measurable, aggressive, realistic, time sensitive “ Conduct an analysis of library entry data to determine which user populations use Butler library the most, and compare it to the distribution of responses to our survey. I will complete this by April 1, 2009.” “ Create, distribute and analyze a survey of Butler library users that addresses their technology and research needs. Survey will be distributed in fall 2008. Analysis and recommendations complete in spring 2009.”
  • This is something important to establish at the very beginning. Is this work just for internal use? Director only? AULs only? Can all staff access this, why or why not? If it’s to be made public in any way, you will certainly want to go through the IRB process, we’ll talk about that later.
  • I’m the assessment librarian. I never get to make the decisions. This is BY FAR the most frustrating part of my job – but I trust my colleagues to work with me to understand the data as best we can, and ensure that they have all of the information they need to make informed decisions. Identifying the decision makers will help you target your assessment project. Understanding their perspectives and questions is critical to effective assessment. This can be uncomfortable, but in the end, we know where the authority lies, and it’s important to be open about that.
  • About once a week someone will walk into my office and say “I want to do a survey.” You may be thinking that right now. And, you might actually need to do a survey, but we need some more information first. This “Information Needs” process helps remove us from jumping into “writing survey questions” and pulls back to say “What information do we need? What information do we have? What’s the best way to gather that information? How will we apply this information?” If nothing else, don’t waste your patrons’ time by making them fill out surveys that will not result in a better library. Respect your patrons! Knowns vs. Unknowns
  • Activity: “ What are some organizational challenges you’ve experienced with library assessment?”
  • Now you know what types of questions you want to ask! Of course, during this stage it’s important to keep in mind – how will we respond to this information? What happens is we learn something we don’t agree with? Tough – assessment is always a balance of listening to our users and respecting our own expertise.
  • Result? Promote reference librarians as “subject experts” who have a Phd in their subject area. Make it clear what each librarians’ area of expertise is, generic “librarian” is not as helpful as the “Anthropology Librarian.”
  • See activity.
  • Open the workbooks to activity 6.
  • By creating a visual map of the work to be done, we’re providing transparency and direction to our team members and clients. This can be an incredibly valuable tool, and may help advocate for more resources or time. Also, the process of developing the WBS within the team creates a dynamic environment, where everyone is interacting, contributing, and learning from each other.
  • Remember, nothing is set in stone! You can always add to and adjust the WBS. Again, this is all about transparency and responsibility. When everyone can see what’s going to happen, there are fewer surprises, and you’re more likely to accomplish the goals of the project.
  • Team members, clients and decision makers are notified of the WBS and timeline, and agree to it.
  • Cornell has developed a set of documents… forms… that help facilitate their project management process. Before an assessment project starts, they ask the client to fill out a Project Initiation Dialogue form asking them about their goals, audience, questions, timeline, etc. Based on the initiation form and further dialogue, a project plan is developed and agreed to. (Cite RBML project.) A report is produced at the end of each assessment project. Once the assessment is complete, the client is sent two feedback forms. One immediately, to assess the work of the RAU, and one six months later to understand how the results were used by the client. Ideal!!!!
  • Assessment Project Management in the Real World - Hour Two

    1. 1. Hour Two: Project Management Fundamentals for Assessment Assessment Project Management in the Real World
    2. 2. Hour Two <ul><li>Project Scope </li></ul><ul><li>Project Objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Project Audience </li></ul><ul><li>Project Decision Makers </li></ul><ul><li>Information Needs </li></ul><ul><li>Work Breakdown Structure </li></ul>
    3. 3. Project Scope <ul><li>What is the purpose of this project? </li></ul><ul><li>What will this project produce (deliverables)? </li></ul><ul><li>What will not happen during this project? </li></ul>
    4. 4. Project Objectives
    5. 5. Project Audience <ul><li>Who will receive the work that the assessment project produces? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Decision makers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Library Administrators </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Library Staff </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Students and Faculty </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>University Administration </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Library Community </li></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Identify Decision Makers <ul><li>Who needs to use the information produced by this assessment project to make decisions and produce results ? </li></ul>
    7. 7. Information Needs “I want to do a survey.” <ul><li>Knowns </li></ul><ul><li>What information do we have? </li></ul><ul><li>What do we know to be true? </li></ul><ul><li>What information is not required? </li></ul><ul><li>Unknowns </li></ul><ul><li>(aka Info Needs ) </li></ul><ul><li>What information do we need? </li></ul><ul><li>What are our questions about this project? </li></ul>
    8. 8. Information Needs <ul><li>Group brainstorming session </li></ul><ul><li>Ask each team member to prepare a list of questions about the project before the meeting. </li></ul><ul><li>Project manager facilitates the brainstorming session. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Using a flip chart, record each team members questions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Go around the room until each question has been recorded. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Number the questions consecutively. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All questions are respected, heard, and recorded. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Team members may ask for clarification. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Team members may pass. </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Information Needs <ul><li>Categorize Needs </li></ul><ul><li>Group info needs into like categories. </li></ul><ul><li>Prioritize Info Needs </li></ul><ul><li>Which info needs are the important? Which are urgent? Which would simply be “nice to know” or “interesting?” </li></ul><ul><li>The team may have time to address only the high-priority information needs. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Information Needs Brainstorming Question Information Need Methodology Question Text Results “ Where do students go when they have questions?” Do students understand the support options available on campus? Survey <ul><li>i. “Who is your first choice when asking for help with research?” </li></ul><ul><li>Professors </li></ul><ul><li>TAs </li></ul><ul><li>Librarians </li></ul><ul><li>Friend </li></ul><ul><li>Classmate </li></ul><ul><li>IT Staff </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Center </li></ul><ul><li>NA </li></ul><ul><li>Other __________ </li></ul>Students, for the most part, understand the support options available to them, and report that they utilize library staff when they have appropriate questions. Professors, classmates and friends rated more frequency than librarians (24%). “ Where do students go when they have questions?” What influences student choices to ask or not ask a librarian when they need research help? Survey Focus Group ii. “Why is this person your first choice when asking for help with research?” Students perceive faculty as the experts , both in terms of the course content, but also with the assignment at hand. The professors expectations are the most important to the students.
    11. 11. Information Needs <ul><li>Identifying information needs </li></ul><ul><li>Prioritize info needs </li></ul><ul><li>Assign methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Define deliverables </li></ul><ul><li>Collect actionable data </li></ul><ul><li>Understand how we will apply the data </li></ul>
    12. 12. Work Breakdown Structure
    13. 13. Work Breakdown Structure <ul><li>Deliverables : What will the team produce? </li></ul><ul><li>Components : Each part of the deliverable </li></ul><ul><li>Tasks : What do we need to do to produce the deliverable? </li></ul><ul><li>Responsibility : Who will complete this work? </li></ul><ul><li>Due date : When should this be done? </li></ul>
    14. 14. Work Breakdown Structure
    15. 15. Activity 6 Work Breakdown Structure
    16. 16. Project Timeline <ul><li>Establish project time line based on the work breakdown structure, using assigned due dates. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Assessment Project Management Tools <ul><li>Cornell University Libraries: </li></ul><ul><li>Research and Assessment Unit </li></ul><ul><li>Project Initiation Dialogue Form </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand your clients needs and expectations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Project Plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Outline the project, and seek agreement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Report Cover Page </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback Form </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assess the assessment! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Assessment Project Plan <ul><li>Your team: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Roles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Skills & Interests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Skill Gaps </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Project Scope </li></ul><ul><li>Project Objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Project Audience </li></ul><ul><li>Decision Makers </li></ul><ul><li>Information Needs </li></ul><ul><li>Methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Work Breakdown Structure </li></ul><ul><li>Project Timeline </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone signs-off on the project plan. </li></ul>
    19. 19. 10 Minute Break 5 Minute Break 5 Minute Break
    20. 20. Photo Credits <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>