KB+ Workflow Task Group – Looking to Autumn 2012

The development of library workflows and associated support (such as alerts) is a priority task for KB+ developments in Autumn 2012. In order to ensure grounded input from the start, we’ve established a task group running from June to September, with volunteer members from the library teams at Birmingham, Cambridge, Kings and Salford. Other institutions are helping with parallel reports and user interface task groups.

The workflow group has agreed a simple five-step work plan.

Step 1 – Agree what we mean by ‘workflow’ and which types of workflow support will make KB+ most useful to library operations. We listed seven types of activities ranging from coordinating publisher updates and supporting renewals decisions (both really important) to task-based messaging within the local library team (not a priority – email does that pretty well for now).

Step 2 – Meet up to detail the important workflows that will make a difference from Autumn 2012 onwards. The Cambridge team kindly hosted 9 of us on 27 June, when we focused on publisher updates and decision support around new deals and renewals. We covered approximately 75 square feet of white board space in 4 hours (sounds impressive), generating just 5 iPhone photos (all that work for 5 low quality snaps) … and a mass of important thinking. We found an old fashioned ‘swim lane’ diagram (once it was explained to us by @owenstephens) to be a good way of systematizing workflow actions and ideas as a shared service design – each column in the diagram relates to a key actor in the envisaged process. From this annotated photo of our efforts, you can see that the write up in Step 4 will be essential to bring this to life!

Discussions of the KB+ Workflow Task Group


Step 3 – Compare our ideas with GOKb partners. KB+ is collaborating with the Mellon Foundation funded GOKb (http://gokb.org/post/25021222983/gobkpressrelease)  project involving four US Higher Eds from the Kuali OLE consortium (Chicago, Duke, North Carolina State and Penn). We want to leverage their efforts with data beyond the UK deals and also share ideas about optimal workflows between local library, above-campus and vendor functions. We’ll also look at the Kuali Rice community source software that they are using to enable workflows. We have two meetings in July and August.

Step 4 – Draft and mutually agree a report. As emphasized by the KB+ Community Group, this report needs to be an accessible document that sets out the workflow priorities for KB+ development from the perspective of how they will fit with real library operations and key local systems (such as Link Resolvers). It will also provide the ‘Use Case’ requirements to inform the development team. The final report will be reviewed by the group in early September.

Step 5 – Use the report as the basis for a library update meeting in the autumn. Our group is suggesting that the report should form a good basis for a UK community update meeting for managers and practitioners to discuss how KB+ will fit and enhance their practices and lessen their local workload.

 David Kay

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