Give a Little Bit: Using Lean Tools to Create Efficiencies in Library Acquisitions


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Presentation at Charleston Conference: Issues in Book and Serials Acquisition, November 2011. Version with notes. See paper from conference proceedings at

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  • Raise your hand if you like show and tell…. Impulse for presenting on this topic was out of my own lack, & overcoming it. Building expertise in workflow analysis--thought I had some competence, but not until we had a consultant come did I feel I had a toolset that felt solid. So, I wanted to share that toolset with you. I will also be talking about a specific acquisitions workflow with our credit card ordering. So I will cover some of the workflow details in addition to discussion our analysis process.
  • It’s OK to doodle during this session. Provided are blank Cross-Functional Maps. Please feel free to sketch out a workflow as I talk--we’ll come back to those.
  • Campus and Library Context: - We got a new Chancellor (equiv. of university president) In 2009 - California and UC budget cuts - Organizational Excellence initiative at the campus level - Shared Service Centers for administrative functions: consolidated payroll, financial at the administrative level and acad colleges. - Library Context: A reorg in Technical Services, increasing EDI automation, turnover in our Accounting department, which brought a learning curve as well as opportunities to rethink processes.
  • With the changes in the Acquisitions and Accounting units, there was a need to focus on collaboration.
  • New Yorker Image License of Limited Duration: Trojan Horse with two solders looking out: “How do we know it’s not full of consultants?” July 4, 2011 “ Enter BPI or Business Process Improvement Program” - A campus-level subsidized program - Library applied to work with consultant - Opportunities for team-building across Acquisitions and Accounting. - Opportunities to change process: before BPI launch, another retirement of key ordering lead who was also one of two cardholders.
  • I4 Process: Ideas and Involvement, Implementation and Impact Description of Team Members: Sponsor: AUL for Administrative Services Project Leader: Head of Accounting and Personnel Facilitator: Acquisitions Librarian (me), also a Subject Matter Experts Three Subject Matter Experts from Acquisitions and Accounting A “Maverick” to look for new patterns, ideas and question: from Accounting/Personnel A Technology representative: our Head of Systems
  • After creating a high-level map to describe the 5-7 main steps of the process, the group focused most of its efforts on a cross-functional or “swim lane” map to surface the details of the current process. - As-Is = a specific case - Square Post-Its: verb/noun: “WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?” (not what should happen…) - Diamond: decision, review, inspection - Add roles along Y axis as they came up - Added arrows last, after process description was complete
  • In order to not get derailed from working on the process description, we were encouraged to “park” certain items as they came up: 1) Issues related to the process; 2) Data to collect to answer questions about the process; 3) Improvement Ideas; 4) Differences in other workflows or cases other than the specific case being described.
  • We used the Customer Scorecard tool to gather information from outside sources to answer the question “How are we doing?” A short survey by phone or email covered these questions: - What do you need/require from this process? List top 3 and rank. - How are we doing today? (A-F) - What does an A look like? How is our competitor doing? [other libraries, could be experiences from other institutions] We had extended discussion to determine who our customers might be for this process. Students and faculty would be too far removed from the process to give us useful feedback, although they were recipients of our work. We decided on a mix of internal customers and recipients of the payment process “down the line”: 2 collection development librarians, campus accounting staff, and 2 vendors. -Campus Accounting/Vendors: if not on “bad” list, everything’s OK. Vendors: “hey, you’re *OUR* customers…this feels weird.” -SELECTORS! Head of Humanities and Social Sciences; Rare Books Selector in Special Collections -- Some lower grades--as perceived loss of flexibility in ordering Special Collections—we conducted a follow up interview to get more information.
  • Data Gathering: Our Consultant told us: “you will start to say ‘We need more data on this.’” -- AND SHE WAS RIGHT! (C-3PO vs. Data) CC BY 2.0 JD Hancock (jdhancock)
  • - From “it happens all the time” to “it happens X times per month” 18 mos of orders: helped to do that reality check of how far we’d come, and to share that with one of our administrators who is more removed from our processes - Our % of credit card orders was small compared to the rest of our monographic orders--this process was small but painful. - Credit card orders were distributed over default state budgets and special budgets, including rare material. - Key dates gave us a measurement of our “cycle time”, or the time elapsed from beginning to end. - Also helped us determine our improvement target.
  • So back to our swimlane map. We made multiple passes to add layers to the process, including: - Cycle and process times - Pain Points - Errors or Rework (2 key spots: accounting and selector-provided info) - Wait time - Identify value added steps--what was critical?
  • Some additional tools we used included the Cost/Value quadrants shown here. These surfaced quick wins: changes we could make in the process with little effort but substantial impact. Most of these had to do with how we handled paper. Other tools included: - Cause and Effect diagrams: 5 whys ; fishbone diagram - RACI Analysis - Risk Analysis
  • Then we got to the stage of Process Redesign - Surprisingly, here is where we also experienced resistance--here’s where it got real. - Two cards per cardholder to triage Account Codes in Accounting and better support transaction identification. - Paper sign-offs during the receiving process was eliminated.
  • The Redesign, continued: - Considering the whole process—we consulted outside of the library to include campus accounting in our redesign. We presented what we were considering and what our goals were. Once they understood how information was recorded in the ILS, they readily agreed to an automated report to replace paper for random transaction audits. This was seen as a big win, as it was one of the controlling authorities for the process. With Shared Service Centers, many administrative campus units were focused on process efficiencies. We also came away from the conversation with a renewed sense of partnership.
  • RESULTS - Lighter process time. Accounting finished soon after closing month vs. 3-4 months later. The report used for transaction audits helps track this turnaround as well. - Fewer steps in Acq (still some paper) - Unexpected Glory – Library BPI Teams among those awarded Chancellor’s Citation of Excellence - Vocabulary and Tools to apply to other projects (using swimlane for one of our systemwide projects).
  • Here are some resources to consult - This first one was a foundational resource for our consulting sessions…. - I discovered the second one in preparing for this talk--recently published and covers many processes. - I also found an article about archives, discussing the MP/LP approach (More Product/Less Process) which discusses many of tools mentioned here. Task Rate Calculator (iTunes) Kaizen by Karen Martin & Associates Mind Tools app (iPhone/iPad)
  • So, how are your doodles?
  • Give a Little Bit: Using Lean Tools to Create Efficiencies in Library Acquisitions

    1. 1. Give a Little Bit Using Lean Tools to Create Efficiencies in Acquisitions …and Beyond Lisa Spagnolo, University of California, Davis Charleston Conference, November 3, 2011
    2. 2. it’s OK….
    3. 3. UC Davis Organizational Excellence Page By Aram Bartholl CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
    4. 4. Give a little bit I'll give a little bit of my love to you There's so much that we need to share Send a smile and show you care Collaboration, aka The Supertramp Application 1. Supertramp was a British band formed in 1969, with many hits in the 70s and 80s. See Wikipedia. Sigh.
    5. 5. The New Yorker, July 4, 2011. Used with permission. Image removed due to presentation license duration.
    6. 6. Shelley Sweet at I4 Process
    7. 7. The Cross-Functional or “Swim Lane” Map Roles Tasks
    8. 8. “As Is” means “As Is”…
    9. 9. Issues Data Improvements Differences Park these:
    10. 10. The Customer Scorecard
    11. 11. CC BY 2.0 JD Hancock
    12. 12. “But it happens all the time!”
    13. 13. Back to the swim lane map… Additional tags to indicate: • Cycle and process times • Pain points • Errors and rework • Wait time • Key value-added steps
    14. 14. 1 Quick Wins 2 Longer Term 4 Maybe… 3 Unlikely Cheap and Easy Expensive or Difficult Value High Low
    15. 15. Other Tools: 5 Whys: to get to the root cause of a problem Fish Bone Diagram:
    16. 16. Please help…. …no, don’t.
    17. 17. Big wins can come from unlikely places… Detroit, Michigan. “Office workers at the Chrysler Corporation…” Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online (Public Domain Collection)
    18. 18. Results: Making It Better • A shorter cycle time • A lighter process • A transferable tool set • Unexpected glory.
    19. 19. Some Resources: Daines, J. Gordon, III. “Re-engineering Archives: Business Process Management (BPM) and the Quest for Archival Efficiency.” The American Archivist, v. 74: 123-157.
    20. 20. Lisa Spagnolo Acquisitions Librarian University of California, Davis Thank you.