Libraries, Medical; Library Technical Services; Task Performance and Analysis
Library and Information Science
Objective: Examine the efficiency of work processes in the Technical Services Department, with the goal of reducing the turnaround time by 50% or more for three specific processes: (1) acquiring books for requestors; (2) implementing serials title changes; and (3) handling of journal issues from receipt to binding.
Method: In summer 2003 the Library initiated a Continuous Process Improvement project. The project’s goal is to reduce time and/or save money by examining and improving work processes. The charge for the Technical Services team is to (1) reduce the turnaround time by 50% or more for firm orders from when the book is ordered to when it reaches the requestor; (2) reduce the time it takes by 50% or more to implement a serials title change, which involves staff throughout the library; and (3) reduce the time it takes by 50% or more for a newly-received journal issue to reach the shelf and eventually be bound. The team is utilizing value-added flow analysis to examine the processes and will make recommendations to management for changes to be implemented in a pilot project.
Results: The Team met weekly over four months to identify the specific steps involved in each process, review the time involved in completing each task, analyze whether or not the step added value, and suggest improvements to the process. Team members documented and timed current workflow in spreadsheets and flowcharts. The Team proposed a number of procedural changes and initiatives that were accepted by library management for a five-month pilot project which is now ongoing. Important components of the implementation are establishing procedures for better communication and additional staff training.
Conclusion: Value-added flow analysis is a useful tool for continuous process improvement. The Library’s goal of reducing turnaround time by 50% or more for these three specific processes will be achieved, as demonstrated in the pilot project. Technical Services will be better able to serve its internal and external customers.
Presented at the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, on May 25, 2004.
continuous process improvement, value-added flow analysis