One of the goals of the Libraries Assessment Committee this year is to test a process improvement tool identified for its applicability in the Libraries. The committee therefore invited Sherrie Tromp of ODL (Center for Organizational Development and Leadership) who co-authored several publications on process improvement and root cause analysis in higher education to attend this meeting to discuss key concepts and procedures in her books.
Sherrie shared copies of two of her books on process improvement and root cause analysis with the committee. She articulated and explained the essential steps of the process improve project once a specific goal for a targeted area is established. The approaches she described work better when the process improvement project involves no more than 7 or 8 people and when the process to be improved is identified at low but critical levels. It was also pointed out that time commitment is a key factor since the project usually takes 3 months. Having a good facilitator who solicits periodic input, keeps all stakeholders informed of the group progress, encourages candid and open discussions, and works with the project group throughout the whole process is also essential. Data-gathering which informs the discussions and helps the group ascertain the "current status" is another key variable. Integrating changes into formal procedures is the last but most challenging step of the whole project. The steps Sherrie outlined and the time required to adequately carry a project out suggest that we should limit the testing to one functional area, rather than several areas as originally anticipated.
Sherrie and Prof. Brent Ruben, Executive Director of ODL, will conduct sessions on Excellence in Higher Education (EHE) for
University Librarian's Cabinet on October 24 and 25. Sherrie pointed out that EHE, adapted from the organizational excellence
framework of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program, consists of seven
major self-assessment categories:
2) Strategic Planning
3) External Focus
4) Information Analysis
6) Process Evaluation and
7) Outcomes and Achievements.
As a result, core processes and important organizational support processes will be identified by the Cabinet based on current strategic priorities. These processes are primary candidates for testing or using the process improvement tool identified to improve the processes which help lead to higher organizational effectiveness. To integrate our work on adopting easy-to-use process improvement tools into the Libraries' overall strategic directions, Samson will try to "strike a chord" of this relationship and connection at the EHE sessions for Cabinet.
The Committee will coordinate RUL's participation in the ARL E-metric pilot project which will begin soon. The E-Metrics project is an effort to explore the feasibility of defining and collecting certain data on the use and value of electronic resources and services. A review of the definitions and "unit of measures" recommended by the project suggests that we may not currently collect data for some aspects of our activities. For instance, we already collect statistics on number of reference questions received, number of answers sent, or not answered, through "Ask a Librarian". We also know over 87 percent of the answered queries were responded to on either the same day or on the next day this past year, and over 96 percent were answered within the "24 to 48 hours" specified in the Ask a Librarian guidelines. It is not clear if we also kept track of how much time we spent per question which is recommended by the E-Metric project. Therefore, we will need to bring these recommended "unit of measures" to the attention of the appropriate Councils. Depending on the merit or usefulness of these measures, we may or may not consider collecting them on a regular basis and simply rely on sampling data.
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 6, 2002 at 9:30 am.