When considering shared or outsourced services, it is important to distinguish between two critical dimensions – where the service is located and by whom the service is operated. Whilst these issues (and the associated opportunities) can be considered separately, the potential options and feasible direction of travel is more likely to be clarified by asking both questions together, thus distinguishing clearly between four operational scenarios:
- Locally operated and locally hosted – like a traditional LMS
- Locally operated and externally hosted – like a new generation LMS
- Externally operated and externally hosted – like a sector service
- And least likely, but possible, externally operated and locally hosted
As soon as we take the lid off these options, further distinctions become important in terms of modes of ‘shared operation’. Consider three key variants:
- Operation of the underlying IT service – i.e. hosting software as a service (SaaS) to satisfy an agreed service level
- Provisioning the service with data / content / transactions – e.g. for circulation or a service desk
- Shared / community provisioning – e.g. working with Jisc Collections on KB+
The method, which may be completed as a personal or group exercise, is sequenced as follows. Almost certainly the first cut will provoke more detailed examination of the nature of shared operation
- Step 1 – Define the outsourced / shared scenario to be addressed and make a list of the real world operations / systems / services involved (perhaps using a Function Palette as the functions may be the same)
- Step 2 – Set up the quadrant model as illustrated and rehearse the distinctions between the quadrants
- Step 3 – Determine what you mean by ‘operation’, considering the variations listed above
- Step 4 – Populate the quadrants with the list of functions / systems as they are now
- Step 5a – Either create another quadrant to position the systems as they might end up in your future scenario
- Step 5b – Or alternatively do that using the same quadrant, linking Current -> Future positions as illustrated below
- Step 6 – Consider fine tuning positioning of operations within each quadrant, treating each axis as a spectrum of possibilities
- Step 7 – You may decide to repeat Steps 4 through 6 for a different definition of ‘operation’ – for example, for service staffing as to opposed IT operation.
The objective of the method is therefore to identify and assess potential direction of travel towards hosted / shared / sector services for the set of operational functions or systems in a specified problem space – which may be the whole of the library management footprint or a subset pertaining to such as bibliographic records supply. The method also facilitates consideration of different levels or modes of outsourcing or sharing.
Here is how members of the WHELF consortium modelled the direction of travel potentially arising from a shared library management system implementation.
Examples of Use
This method is used or referenced in the following LMS Change Case Studies