For many areas of activity, business processes are dependent on services or data that are the responsibility of parties outside the library team. This is increasingly the case, not least as libraries focus holistically on the student experience and on researcher workflows and as services become outsourced (e.g. hosted by vendors) or shared ‘above campus’ (e.g. Copac, KB+, Mendeley).
Service managers and designers therefore need to understand the implications for any proposed process or system change in terms of the parties involved and the associated restrictions, flexibilities and affordances.
The method, which is sequenced as follows, will benefit from iteration. Allow no more than 30 minutes for a first cut, ideally as a group exercise, and expect surprises and welcome disagreement! Almost certainly after the first cut it will be necessary to seek clarification about the status of some systems.
- Step 1 – Agree the problem being addressed and make a list of the systems and services involved (perhaps using Method A)
- Step 2 – Set up the quadrant model as illustrated and rehearse the distinctions between the quadrants
- Step 3 – Populate the quadrants from the list of systems
- Step 4 – Consider whether you need colour coding to classify the systems in some way to help understand the nature of the problem. The coding you adopt will depend on the nature of the problem; for example, procuring a new LMS, as per the Bloomsbury example below, is different from Gathering library analytics
- Step 5 – You may decide to repeat Step 4 to consider a different facet of the problem; for example, the degree to which the system owner, such as internal IS or a vendor, will be responsive to new requirements.
You may find it beneficial to go through this exercise twice – once for the current systems landscape and again for a proposed future scenario.
The objective of the method is therefore to identify the challenges arising from systems ownership relating to any proposed service scenario or process change. This will be particularly helpful when considering hosted or shared service models, but will also apply in cases where ownership is distributed exclusively within the institution.
Here is how the process was used by the Bloomsbury library consortium in considering the systems and actors relating to the implementation of a new Library Management System. In this case, the colour coding was used to address a key question – “To what extent do the related systems behave in a manner that would be regarded as standard by an LMS vendor?” (for example, in terms of data exchange formats).
Examples of Use
This method is used or referenced in the following LMS Change Case Studies
Designation of business system ownership can be covered in Function Palettes and Cross-functional Process Maps. However, whilst offering a complimentary perspective, such diagrams do not help to visualize the extent and gradation of the problem space.