Thursday, 15 November 2012

Beginning the design of a post-P2 world

Part of the LMS project includes a sub-project - finding a way to electronically select, procure, receive and pay for library materials.  In the office we call it the "post-P2" solution or project.  

The original business plan for the LMS set the post-P2 solution as being in place about 2 years after we commenced the LMS roll out.  There is some pressure to replace P2 because it is ageing, it is quite inflexible & also because it is costly to operate.  However the amount of work required to map a new model is considerable, so it isn't something we can do too quickly.

So we're just kicking off the P2 replacement project. We've already done considerable desktop research, talked to our library material suppliers, to libraries interstate, to SirsiDynix and to some current P2 library users to gather information.  This approach includes the recent invitation for staff to participate in a workshop at PLS today looking at the issues related to selection, procurement, receipt and payment for library materials. (Thanks to those who were able to attend.  The information we gleaned will be used as part of our planning.)  We will be following up this session with other opportunities for library staff to provide input into the project.

One option for a P2 replacement is for us to maximise the functionality of the Acquisitions module of the Symphony LMS - with some modifications to meet our business requirements.  To explore this option we have decided to meet with and discuss acquisitions processes with several current Symphony users who in some ways use acquisitions a bit like our consortium wants to - i.e. multiple library groups all using one LMS to manage their ordering processes while maintaining control of their own funds.

SirisDynix has indicated that the LA County public library system and the Stanford University libraries in the San Francisco region are the best library systems to examine.   Therefore Jo Freeman & Geoff Strempel will be visiting these libraries as well as meeting with SirsiDynix technical staff in Utah to work through what is possible. (With the engagement of new staff at PLS Jo is able to begin a transition process out of the LMS implementation team and into the role of project manager for the P2 replacement process. I will write more about our new staff soon.)

We are hopeful that we will bring home some information from the US that will allow us to begin moving the project forward.

What do we think we will end up with as a post-P2 system?  While we don't have any concrete ideas at this stage we do have some overarching principles that are informing our thinking. These are the principles that underpin P2, but will hopefully take advantage of the technologies of 2012 & beyond. 

We will be looking for the best possible system that meets the operational needs of libraries regarding selection and receiving of new items, while also ensuring that there are efficient mechanisms to managing orders and payment, while also maximising choice and discounts. There are some tensions between some of these principles, and so getting this balance right is an important part of our decision making.

We are hopeful that we will be able to utilise existing software from Symphony, supplier websites and accounting systems to meet these needs rather than writing any new software. These are the principles which will inform our decisions.  We will be working with library staff, suppliers and SirsiDynix to turn these principles into a reality within the next two years.

Of course we will keep everyone informed along the way, and provide ongoing opportunities for input as we progress.

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