Tuesday, 22 October 2013

LMS Stage 2 rolls along (P2 replacement project)

Geoff wrote a couple of posts about this project late last year - see 15 November and 19 December.  While much of the PLS attention and energy over the past couple of years has been focussed on the roll out of the state-wide LMS, as we move into the final year of implementation the momentum is starting to pick up for our stage 2 project.

A quick recap to save you from re-reading last year’s posts.

  • LMS Stage 2 project is to replace the software we currently use to select and purchase library materials (P2)
  • P2 is ageing, inflexible and costly to operate so there is real incentive to move forward to an ‘off the shelf’ commercial solution
  • A workshop was held in October 2012 with network selectors and acquisitions staff to discuss issues relating to selection and procurement of library materials
  • When procuring a state-wide LMS it was decided that we would try to maximise the functionality of the LMS Acquisitions module to achieve greater integration between our systems
  • We need to preserve the fundamental process we currently undertake using P2 which involves decentralised selection and receipt of items with centralised ordering and payment
  • Replacing our procurement system provides an opportunity to explore new approaches that will improve options for selection, increase efficiency and deliver better collection management outcomes
  • The Symphony Acquisitions module has some of what we need but further development work is required to meet our consortium requirements
  • A collaborative software development project is being pursued with SirsiDynix to develop a commercial product that will be available for all SirsiDynix customers
With an overall vision and timeframe in mind, PLS has spent much of 2013 talking to SirsiDynix about options for partnering and also working our way through the various government procurement processes and approvals that are required to start a software development project of this kind.  While time consuming, this early work is critical to ensuring that the partnership works for both parties and will deliver the required outcomes.

In August the PLS project team began working with SirsiDynix to scope functionality requirements via online document sharing and early morning phone meetings.  The time difference between Salt Lake City and Adelaide is about 15 hours so flexible work hours are a must for this project. Scoping functionality requirements has to be done as a collaborative effort as it needs to take into account the consortium needs of the SA public libraries but also the requirements of other SirsiDynix customers.  While our academic and specialist library colleagues share many of our procurement needs, they also do some things quite differently so the solution needs to be flexible and highly configurable.

At the request of SirsiDynix, in late September PLS sent two of our team (Kathy Haese and myself) to SirsiDynix headquarters in Utah to spend an intensive week exploring and documenting product concepts, key deliverables and system functionality requirements. 

The benefits of all being in the room together for 5 straight days can’t be underestimated.  We got a lot done – talking over the top of each other, drawing extensively on the whiteboard, explaining exactly how we need things to work etc.  The project advanced significantly in that time, which was really exciting.  And before you know it, just as our body clocks adjusted to Utah time & after 5 days in the office with a very brief look around Salt Lake City & surrounds we were boarding a plane for a 26 hour haul back to Adelaide.

Doing this kind of work collaboratively can be challenging as we all had our own ideas of how the system might work but it was essential to make sure our needs were fully understood and aligned with the SirsiDynix development framework. We now have a shared vision and terminology which will be important as we move forward.  Spending this time in the early planning and scoping stage of the project also ensures that we don’t waste time and energy in a product only to realise major deficiencies along the track.

The next step for this project is to finish the scoping documentation so that a partnership agreement can be finalised between the Libraries Board and SirsiDynix.  Once an agreement is in place, PLS will continue to work with the SirsiDynix team during the development process to ensure the network’s functionality requirements are met.  The PLS project team will also be engaging with subject matter experts across our network, as well as our library suppliers.

We have been talking about the decommissioning of P2 for a long time now, and it still feels like it’s a long way off, but it’s slowly becoming a reality.  Watch this space.

Some photos of the trip to Utah below.

Jo Freeman
A/Associate Director

Public Library Services
SirsiDynix headquarters in Lehi - about 46 kilometres south of Salt Lake City

SirsiDynix headquarters – one of many new buildings

Taken from the car park at the Thanksgiving Point train station with the SirsiDynix building on the left

The SirsiDynix APAC support team with Kathy Haese – note the Australian flags.  We delivered TimTams!


The FrontRunner commuter train provides efficient public transport from Salt Lake City to Lehi, travelling at 127km per hour

View from the train

And on our last day, with a dramatic change in the weather, a little bit of snow

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