Archive for the "News" Category

Implementing change: the critical role of workforce planning and capability development

Posted on March 15th, 2016 by Gillian McAllister

computer key - Change

When managers take on a change management project, they generally expect to encounter challenges that call for skills in persuasion, conflict resolution and people management. However, managing a change program also requires a range of more technical management skills. These can sometimes be overlooked in the drive to bring staff on board but are critical if the change is to be successfully implemented.

One of the first questions a manager needs to explore when faced with change is: does my team have the skills to work in the new way? Staff might understand the desired goal (‘client centred services’, for example, or ‘digital by default’) but not have the experience and know-how to translate these concepts into operation. Skills audits can therefore be an important step in preparing for change. A manager needs to understand the skills that will be needed to operate in the proposed new way and to determine whether there is a skills gap within his or her team.

Once gaps have been identified, decisions need to be made about how those gaps will be bridged. Do new skills need to be brought in through recruitment, or through training and staff development, or a mixture of both? This can become a strategic decision for the manager: if a particular skill set is critical to the new way of working then recruitment of experienced staff might be the most effective approach. Where recruitment is not an option, training existing staff in high-impact, critical skills must form part of the change program. A hybrid approach is also possible: a manager can choose to bring in experienced contractors or consultants to bridge gaps in the short term on the understanding that they will share their skills with ongoing staff. These are all strategies which help build the organisation’s capacity for change.

Of course, training is not the only option available to managers when it comes to changing the way staff work together. Change tool kits can be provided to staff so that they have information at their fingertips about new structures and strategies. Redesigning work processes in consultation with staff can also help to translate the goals of a change program into practical reality.

Finally, a significant challenge all managers face at times of organisational change is managing that change while continuing to deliver on a day-to-day basis. Managers need to be able to hold the business together while simultaneously changing it. This is a major test of any manager’s technical skills and, if not managed well, can undermine progress being made to implement change. To navigate this challenge, it is essential as a first step for a manager to establish a clear set of priorities and then communicate this to staff. Staff can feel overwhelmed by the need to manage their existing workload and also contribute to the change program – so it is important that they have visibility of key priorities and understand what work can be put aside or stopped while the transition occurs. This can also be a time for managers to identify one-off projects that can be managed by bringing in temporary or external resources. Resource planning in this way means that staff are supported through the change process and the team or branch can continue to deliver core programs and services.


 

Building Better Teams

Posted on March 15th, 2016 by Amy Simpson-Deeks

People on Puzzle

 

Organisations are made up of teams of individuals; the capability and efficiency of these teams is vital to ensuring organisational goals and outcomes are met. Strong teams:

  • Have the skills they need to do what is required of them;
  • Understand their role in meeting the organisation’s strategic objectives; and
  • Work well together.

The first step in building strong teams, and one which is often overlooked, is to gain an understanding of each team’s current level of capability. There are a number of ways to approach this. At Fyusion we have found it valuable to focus at the team level and to take a consultation-based approach to understanding the capability of the team. We then build on this understanding to provide practical support to team leaders for build team capacity. Mid-level managers directly influence the work/behaviours of operational teams and are therefore critical to improving performance or implementing change.
Fyusion’s approach involves:

  1. Establishing which key skills and types of knowledge – or capabilities – the team requires. What does the team need to be able to do in order to meet its objectives?
  2. Measuring the current capability of the team using a 360 degree review process, consulting with senior managers, peers and clients to understand what they need from the team and how well the team is currently delivering.
  3. Taking an inclusive approach, involving all team members at every step of the process.
  4. Supporting team leaders. In particular, Fyusion can provide new and inexperienced leaders, as well as those confronted by significant change, with tangible tools to help them turn a team around. These tools can include:
  • Organisation charts to provide an overview of the team, roles and operational structure;
  • Process maps outlining important process steps, key roles and responsibilities;
  • Work Review and Handover Procedures;
  • Training Needs Assessment staff interview guides;
  • Individual Change Plan staff interview guides;
  • Meeting and communications frameworks;
  • Guidelines for buddying arrangements to bridge skills gaps in the team; and
  • A list of current projects being conducted by the team.

This process provides both team members and the organisation with a detailed, evidence-based view of how well a team is equipped to deliver on its objectives, and then provides team leaders with the practical tools to improve capability at team level. It can be used to support newly-formed teams and those impacted by major organisational changes, or as a means to measure and develop the capability of established teams. Either way, stronger teams means a stronger organisation.


 

Australia Day Achievement Award

Posted on March 15th, 2016 by admin

australia-day-logo-for-web

Fyusion director Lisa Koch led the Attorney-General’s Department’s Shared Service Taskforce in 2014-2015 which won an Australia Day Achievement Award in 2016. This project consolidated the common back-office functions of the Museum of Australian Democracy, the National Archives of Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Library of Australia, the National Museum of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery. Congratulations to the Taskforce!


 

Paper presented to the Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies in Libraries Conference (QQML) 2015

Posted on March 8th, 2016 by admin

Unlocking value in a reference library through the application of business process mapping and job analysis techniques

Vicki McDonald,1 Dr Gillian McAllister2 and Lisa Koch2

1 State Library of NSW (Sydney, Australia)

Fyusion Asia Pacific Pty Ltd (Australia)

Abstract: The State Library of New South Wales is a world leading library and centre for digital excellence committed to the continuing development of its collection of international renown. In 2012, it became evident that the Library’s funding from government was reducing and that the Library needed to find new ways to deliver its services. This paper describes how the collection management function at the Library was reviewed and the specific research approach that was applied to not only identify areas where efficiencies might be found but also to position the Library for the future.

Introduction

The State Library of NSW (SLNSW) is the principal public library for the state of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia. The objective of the Library is to document the development of Australia from the time New South Wales was substantially Australia and to create a collection that reflects the cultural heritage of NSW in both the Australian and international contexts. At the heart of the Library’s collections are the significant collections of its two great benefactors: David Scott Mitchell and Sir William Dixson. In 2010, the collection was valued at AUD$2.14B and is a major asset for the state.

Like all libraries today, the State Library is facing new challenges. These challenges include:

  • Adapting technology to expose its collections;
  • Meeting expectations of existing clients and engaging new audiences;
  • Collecting across a range of formats and preserving them for the future; and
  • Reducing budgets.

In 2012, it became evident that the Library’s funding from government was reducing and that it needed to consider how it would deliver services within a smaller budget envelope. The Library’s budget forecasts indicated that by 2016/17, the cumulative impact of savings measures or budget cuts would be approximately $3.2M. Some savings in operations were identified, such as a review of electricity use. However, these measures were not enough on their own. The key area where the Library had flexibility to save funds was in the staffing area. Modelling indicated that the Library needed to reduce its staffing from 398 equivalent full-time staff positions (EFT) in 2011/12 to 312 EFT in 2016/17 – a reduction in 86 EFT or 20%. At the same time, however, the Library wanted to have flexibility to introduce new services: it did not want to have its aspirations constrained by its budgets.

In this environment, the Library asked each of its branches to conduct a review of its activities to identify opportunities to make budget savings. The most extensive of these reviews focused on the Library’s core function – the collection management function. At the State Library, the collection management function is understood as encompassing:

  • Assessment, identification and selection;
  • Acquisition;
  • Archival and bibliographic description and physical arrangement;
  • Contributing to client services in regard to access to the collection;
  • Retention and disposal;
  • Asset management of the collection.

To assist it with this review, the Library engaged a consulting firm, Fyusion Asia Pacific, to conduct detailed research into:

  • How the function was currently organised and performed; and
  • Where efficiencies and savings could be made without compromising either the Library’s position as a major collecting institution and reference library or its strategic goal of being a centre of digital excellence.

This paper sets out the research approach that was employed to build an evidence base for the review. It also discusses the central review findings and how they supported the Library to achieve its budget savings. Finally, the paper looks back over the past 18 months and reflects on the process of achieving the budget savings and, at the same time, managing a transformative change.

Research challenges

Two specific challenges faced the research team in designing a data collection strategy to inform the review. Firstly, the collection management function was dispersed across several units at the Library and was not managed as a single, interdependent set of tasks. A number of different branches contributed to the Library’s overall performance of this core function. Within this arrangement, some branches were central to the performance of the function and some more peripheral. However, each branch involved in the collection management function was structured and staffed differently and operated quite independently. While there were governance mechanisms, such as committees and project teams, to coordinate the different aspects of the work, collection management work was not strongly integrated across the Library.

From a research perspective, this meant that it was necessary to understand the operation of each of these branches. This required the collection of information at the group or branch level as to how each branch was structured and staffed; its systems for work prioritisation and planning; how tasks were allocated across the branch; the work processes used to carry out core operational activities; work outputs; and how team members worked together on a day-to-day basis.

The second challenge in collecting data for the review was the nature of the work carried out by staff working within the collection management function. Professional work, such as that of librarians, involves complex tasks that call for autonomy and the use of judgment (Alvesson 2004). Professional work is distinguished by the fact that it is not routine and structured (Howard 1991) and is often quite individualised (Greenwood et al 1990). While elements of librarianship have undoubtedly been standardised or commodified (Abbott 1998), there remain areas of the profession where work is carried out with a high level of discretion and autonomy. For the purposes of the review, this meant that it was important to understand not only how the different teams operated across the collection management function but also how individuals within the function executed their roles.

In summary, information for the review had to be collected at both the team and individual level.

Research design

The research design was driven by the challenges outlined above and the necessity to collect information at a very granular level. Initial background information was reviewed and interviews were conducted with key informants across the Library to gather a broad perspective of the function. However, to understand in detail how teams and individual staff were carrying out their work, the project adopted two business analysis techniques: business process mapping and job analysis.

Business process mapping

Business process mapping was used as a research method to build a picture of the day-to-day operations of the teams and work units involved in the collection management function.

Five workshops were conducted with staff from different teams in order to understand and document the following issues:

  • Roles and responsibilities of the Branches;
  • Where work comes from, the inputs and outputs, and key stakeholders of the Branch;
  • Workloads and priorities; and
  • Workflow including hand over of work, bottlenecks and single points of risk.

This provided the information that was required at the level of team or branch. As this information was collected using a standard approach, it was possible to compare how work was managed across different work units.

Job analysis

To meet the second research requirement of understanding how individual staff members approached collection management work, an online job analysis survey was administered to all staff involved in the function. The survey had a strong job design focus and required staff to identify the specific tasks they undertook as part of their job role.

A significant amount of research was conducted to ensure that the survey was relevant to the activities undertaken within the function. Sources that were used in the development of the questionnaire included:

  • Input from the Project Reference Group which oversaw the review;
  • Review of the Library’s formal position or job descriptions;
  • The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006); and
  • The Occupational Information Network (or O*NET).

The response rate to the survey was 55%. The survey results provided detailed, quantitative data about the key areas of work activity within the collection management function and the skills and capabilities required by staff to carry out collection management work. The survey data was capable of analysis at the work unit level as well as at the level of specific roles.

Achieving budget savings: findings from the review

The data collection provided the basis for a comprehensive analysis of the performance of the function across the Library. The final report, delivered in July 2013, provided a total of 38 detailed recommendations for change relating to:

  • Structure;
  • Job roles;
  • Work processes;
  • Communication mechanisms; and
  • Governance arrangements.

The key areas for change, particularly as they relate to the Library’s need to find efficiencies and savings, are set out below.

Structure

Of the 38 recommendations, the set of recommendations relating to a new functional structure for the Library’s collection management work was the most significant: it represented a fundamental change to the way that the Library organised this work. The review found that collection management work at the Library was split by format. Some teams worked only on published collections, including serials and newspapers, while other teams focused on unpublished collections, including manuscripts, pictures and oral history. Importantly, this split had led to duplication and inefficient processes. For example:

  • Both areas were working with maps and rare books;
  • There were separate governance processes around acquisitions and donations.

The review found that some work tasks were common to all teams but other work was more specialised. There were several collection management activities that were broadly common between teams. These included:

  • Selection of items (either for purchase or acceptance as a donation);
  • Rehousing;
  • Creation of accession records;

There was clearly scope to standardise and integrate these common tasks across teams and establish multi-skilled teams which were format agnostic in their work. However, the data collected for the review also indicated that there were tasks which needed to be recognised and retained as specialist activities.

To manage this tension between generalisation and specialisation, the review recommended a new structure with four branches:

  • Collection Strategy and Development: responsible for planning and policy development across the Library’s collections as a whole;
  • Research and Discovery: focused on in-depth collection research and promoting the Library’s collections, with a particular emphasis on its unique materials;
  • Collection Access and Description: responsible for the arrangement, description and cataloguing of items so that they are ready for inclusion into the collection;
  • Data Quality, Systems and Standards: the business owner for the Library’s library management systems with responsibility for setting appropriate requirements for data standards across all materials.

This structure was based closely on the collection management life cycle and integrated collection management work across all formats. As a result, it provided the platform for the implementation of a number of other key changes and efficiencies.

Allocation of work ‘appropriate to grade’

A clear finding from the data collection and the staff survey in particular was that, within their roles, some staff worked across almost all tasks within the collection management function. Teams had become quite ‘thin’, with an insufficient number of junior professional and support roles. This had resulted in senior staff spending a proportion of their time on simpler activities that were not appropriate to their job grade and salary level. The review made a number of recommendations for reallocating work in a more cost-effective way.

Processes

Consistent feedback was received throughout the review that much more could be done to standardise procedures between the different work units within the collection management function. Broadly similar collection management tasks were carried out by different teams, yet different approaches were taken according to format. There was also an absence of strong processes in some areas, a factor nominated by staff as an important impediment to efficiency.

Building more formalised processes was therefore an important recommendation from the review. Standardisation of work processes had the potential to provide a number of efficiency benefits, including:

  • A consistent standard of work; and
  • ‘Process velocity’ and faster completion of tasks.

Clear processes and criteria for different tasks could also provide:

  • Greater flexibility in resourcing and sharing of workload; and
  • Opportunities to allocate less complex tasks to more junior staff.

This recommendation has been adopted by the Library and work is being undertaken to build more transparent processes.

Planning and prioritisation of work

The new structure included a work unit responsible for strategic planning in relation to the collection and the work required to manage the collection. This is a relatively small team with specialist positions dedicated to policy and strategy.

The establishment of this unit has been a significant part of the change for a number of reasons. Firstly, in an environment where there are fewer staff resources, strategic prioritisation of work becomes critical. This unit sets the strategic direction for the management of the collection so that resources can consistently be allocated to the most important projects or areas of activity. One impact of the greater focus on work planning has been the reduction in project backlogs.

Secondly, the establishment of this unit has strengthened the Library’s capacity to manage its collection as a whole. One team now has lead responsibility for this task, which has given the Library greater visibility of this important asset and greater assurance as to its management.

Digital collecting

A consistent theme throughout the review was concern that the Library had a significant gap in relation to management of digital resources. This has been a challenge for all large libraries and few in Australia could be regarded as having resolved the issue at this stage. However, it was important that the Library started to fill gaps in the management of digital resources, including developing a stronger approach to data standards and quality and building capability and capacity in digital collecting. For this reason, the review recommended the creation of a specialist unit to support this work.

This unit has consolidated some collection management activities that were previously performed across the Library’s collection services areas and the Library’s IT area. It is the ‘business owner’ of Library systems relating to the management of the collection and has recently led a large-scale renewal of those systems.

This unit is supporting the Library to bridge the gap in relation to digital collecting and to transition into a more digital future.

Reflections on the implementation journey: progress to date

It is now almost two years since the review was completed and the Library has made steady progress in implementing the recommendations. The necessary staff reductions have been achieved and budget savings made, with a new structure put in place in June 2014. In a recent staff survey about the change process, staff indicated that there were many positive aspects of this change. From their perspective, the review had helped to identify skills and capability needs and gaps; eliminate duplication of activity across the branches; create flatter structures; and increase collegiality and knowledge-sharing, particularly through the colocation of teams. At the same time, staff identified areas where continued focus was required.

From the perspective of the Library’s leadership, a number of important lessons have been learnt about managing a change of this type.

The scale of change

It is important to recognise that the organisational change undertaken by the Library in relation to the collection management function was radical or transformative change rather than incremental change (Greenwood and Hinings 1996). The Library was seeking to make a fundamental break with its traditional pattern of organising (by format) and establish an alternative structure which would not only reduce budget but also enable it to succeed in a new environment. An indicator of the extent of the change is that all staff had to move into new roles and different branches on the first day of the new structure (6 June 2014). Significant budget savings (20%) have been achieved but it has required fundamental organisational change.

Factors required to drive change

The Library had previously attempted to streamline its collection management function but without success. In looking back at the current change process, several factors can be identified as contributing to it greater success.

  • The evidence base for the review was very strong because of the detailed research undertaken.
  • The review was undertaken by an independent consultancy firm, giving the findings greater credibility and persuasive power with Library Executive and staff.
  • The review process was constantly supported and championed by the most senior Library leaders.
  • The Library’s focus on change did not stop with delivery of the review findings but has continued throughout the implementation process. Senior leaders have continued to drive the change with ongoing staff consultation.

Limitations on the pace of change

While the change has delivered many benefits to the Library it has also taken time to implement. There have been two key factors influencing the pace of change:

  • The Library has two separate library management systems for managing its collections. In December 2014 the Library announced that it will commence implementation of a state-of-the-art library management system in 2015/16. It is anticipated that the integrated solution will provide the Library with enhanced discovery of collections, but also achieve efficiencies in the collection management function.
  • The implementation of the collection management function review recommendations coincided with a period of significant organisational change: similar reviews across the organisation (and changes to organisational structures); the implementation of new enterprise systems; and a new employment Act which has required new procedures for the recruitment of staff.

Resourcing the new structure

The Library has continued to review the new structure and adjust roles where required to ensure achievement of its objectives. Some roles have been redesigned slightly as experience with the new structure has revealed better ways to work. The Library has also recognised the need to bring in specialists on short term contracts to work on particular projects. The resourcing structure has therefore become more flexible and capable of responding to changes in workload.

Implementing more standardised processes

A key finding from the review was the need to build more formalised work processes. In the previous structure some key areas of the collection function were not documented. With the significant number of staff in new positions and the loss of knowledge and expertise due to staff leaving the organisation there is a critical need for documented procedures and consistency in practices. The Library continues to work with staff to design new processes and this remains an important focus during the implementation phase.

References:

Abbott, A. (1998). “Professionalism and the future of librarianship.” Library Trends 46(3):14.

Alvesson, M. (2004). Knowledge Work and Knowledge-Intensive Firms. New York, Oxford University Press.

Greenwood,R., C.R.Hinings, et al. (1990). “The P2-Form of Strategic Management: Corporate Practices in the Professional Partnership.” Academy of Management Journal 33: 725-755.

Greenwood, R. and C. R. Hinings (1996). “Understanding radical organizational change: bringing together the old and new institutionalism.” Academy of Management Review 21: 1022-1055.

Howard, J.H. (1991). “Leadership, Management and Change in the Professional Service Firm.” Business Quarterly 55(4): 111-118.


 

Paper presented to the Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies in Libraries Conference (QQML) 2015

Posted on March 8th, 2016 by admin

Unlocking value in a reference library through the application of business process mapping and job analysis techniques

Vicki McDonald,1 Dr Gillian McAllister2 and Lisa Koch2

1 State Library of NSW (Sydney, Australia)

Fyusion Asia Pacific Pty Ltd (Australia)

Abstract: The State Library of New South Wales is a world leading library and centre for digital excellence committed to the continuing development of its collection of international renown. In 2012, it became evident that the Library’s funding from government was reducing and that the Library needed to find new ways to deliver its services. This paper describes how the collection management function at the Library was reviewed and the specific research approach that was applied to not only identify areas where efficiencies might be found but also to position the Library for the future.

Introduction

The State Library of NSW (SLNSW) is the principal public library for the state of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia. The objective of the Library is to document the development of Australia from the time New South Wales was substantially Australia and to create a collection that reflects the cultural heritage of NSW in both the Australian and international contexts. At the heart of the Library’s collections are the significant collections of its two great benefactors: David Scott Mitchell and Sir William Dixson. In 2010, the collection was valued at AUD$2.14B and is a major asset for the state.

Like all libraries today, the State Library is facing new challenges. These challenges include:

  • Adapting technology to expose its collections;
  • Meeting expectations of existing clients and engaging new audiences;
  • Collecting across a range of formats and preserving them for the future; and
  • Reducing budgets.

In 2012, it became evident that the Library’s funding from government was reducing and that it needed to consider how it would deliver services within a smaller budget envelope. The Library’s budget forecasts indicated that by 2016/17, the cumulative impact of savings measures or budget cuts would be approximately $3.2M. Some savings in operations were identified, such as a review of electricity use. However, these measures were not enough on their own. The key area where the Library had flexibility to save funds was in the staffing area. Modelling indicated that the Library needed to reduce its staffing from 398 equivalent full-time staff positions (EFT) in 2011/12 to 312 EFT in 2016/17 – a reduction in 86 EFT or 20%. At the same time, however, the Library wanted to have flexibility to introduce new services: it did not want to have its aspirations constrained by its budgets.

In this environment, the Library asked each of its branches to conduct a review of its activities to identify opportunities to make budget savings. The most extensive of these reviews focused on the Library’s core function – the collection management function. At the State Library, the collection management function is understood as encompassing:

  • Assessment, identification and selection;
  • Acquisition;
  • Archival and bibliographic description and physical arrangement;
  • Contributing to client services in regard to access to the collection;
  • Retention and disposal;
  • Asset management of the collection.

To assist it with this review, the Library engaged a consulting firm, Fyusion Asia Pacific, to conduct detailed research into:

  • How the function was currently organised and performed; and
  • Where efficiencies and savings could be made without compromising either the Library’s position as a major collecting institution and reference library or its strategic goal of being a centre of digital excellence.

This paper sets out the research approach that was employed to build an evidence base for the review. It also discusses the central review findings and how they supported the Library to achieve its budget savings. Finally, the paper looks back over the past 18 months and reflects on the process of achieving the budget savings and, at the same time, managing a transformative change.

Research challenges

Two specific challenges faced the research team in designing a data collection strategy to inform the review. Firstly, the collection management function was dispersed across several units at the Library and was not managed as a single, interdependent set of tasks. A number of different branches contributed to the Library’s overall performance of this core function. Within this arrangement, some branches were central to the performance of the function and some more peripheral. However, each branch involved in the collection management function was structured and staffed differently and operated quite independently. While there were governance mechanisms, such as committees and project teams, to coordinate the different aspects of the work, collection management work was not strongly integrated across the Library.

From a research perspective, this meant that it was necessary to understand the operation of each of these branches. This required the collection of information at the group or branch level as to how each branch was structured and staffed; its systems for work prioritisation and planning; how tasks were allocated across the branch; the work processes used to carry out core operational activities; work outputs; and how team members worked together on a day-to-day basis.

The second challenge in collecting data for the review was the nature of the work carried out by staff working within the collection management function. Professional work, such as that of librarians, involves complex tasks that call for autonomy and the use of judgment (Alvesson 2004). Professional work is distinguished by the fact that it is not routine and structured (Howard 1991) and is often quite individualised (Greenwood et al 1990). While elements of librarianship have undoubtedly been standardised or commodified (Abbott 1998), there remain areas of the profession where work is carried out with a high level of discretion and autonomy. For the purposes of the review, this meant that it was important to understand not only how the different teams operated across the collection management function but also how individuals within the function executed their roles.

In summary, information for the review had to be collected at both the team and individual level.

Research design

The research design was driven by the challenges outlined above and the necessity to collect information at a very granular level. Initial background information was reviewed and interviews were conducted with key informants across the Library to gather a broad perspective of the function. However, to understand in detail how teams and individual staff were carrying out their work, the project adopted two business analysis techniques: business process mapping and job analysis.

Business process mapping

Business process mapping was used as a research method to build a picture of the day-to-day operations of the teams and work units involved in the collection management function.

Five workshops were conducted with staff from different teams in order to understand and document the following issues:

  • Roles and responsibilities of the Branches;
  • Where work comes from, the inputs and outputs, and key stakeholders of the Branch;
  • Workloads and priorities; and
  • Workflow including hand over of work, bottlenecks and single points of risk.

This provided the information that was required at the level of team or branch. As this information was collected using a standard approach, it was possible to compare how work was managed across different work units.

Job analysis

To meet the second research requirement of understanding how individual staff members approached collection management work, an online job analysis survey was administered to all staff involved in the function. The survey had a strong job design focus and required staff to identify the specific tasks they undertook as part of their job role.

A significant amount of research was conducted to ensure that the survey was relevant to the activities undertaken within the function. Sources that were used in the development of the questionnaire included:

  • Input from the Project Reference Group which oversaw the review;
  • Review of the Library’s formal position or job descriptions;
  • The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006); and
  • The Occupational Information Network (or O*NET).

The response rate to the survey was 55%. The survey results provided detailed, quantitative data about the key areas of work activity within the collection management function and the skills and capabilities required by staff to carry out collection management work. The survey data was capable of analysis at the work unit level as well as at the level of specific roles.

Achieving budget savings: findings from the review

The data collection provided the basis for a comprehensive analysis of the performance of the function across the Library. The final report, delivered in July 2013, provided a total of 38 detailed recommendations for change relating to:

  • Structure;
  • Job roles;
  • Work processes;
  • Communication mechanisms; and
  • Governance arrangements.

The key areas for change, particularly as they relate to the Library’s need to find efficiencies and savings, are set out below.

Structure

Of the 38 recommendations, the set of recommendations relating to a new functional structure for the Library’s collection management work was the most significant: it represented a fundamental change to the way that the Library organised this work. The review found that collection management work at the Library was split by format. Some teams worked only on published collections, including serials and newspapers, while other teams focused on unpublished collections, including manuscripts, pictures and oral history. Importantly, this split had led to duplication and inefficient processes. For example:

  • Both areas were working with maps and rare books;
  • There were separate governance processes around acquisitions and donations.

The review found that some work tasks were common to all teams but other work was more specialised. There were several collection management activities that were broadly common between teams. These included:

  • Selection of items (either for purchase or acceptance as a donation);
  • Rehousing;
  • Creation of accession records;

There was clearly scope to standardise and integrate these common tasks across teams and establish multi-skilled teams which were format agnostic in their work. However, the data collected for the review also indicated that there were tasks which needed to be recognised and retained as specialist activities.

To manage this tension between generalisation and specialisation, the review recommended a new structure with four branches:

  • Collection Strategy and Development: responsible for planning and policy development across the Library’s collections as a whole;
  • Research and Discovery: focused on in-depth collection research and promoting the Library’s collections, with a particular emphasis on its unique materials;
  • Collection Access and Description: responsible for the arrangement, description and cataloguing of items so that they are ready for inclusion into the collection;
  • Data Quality, Systems and Standards: the business owner for the Library’s library management systems with responsibility for setting appropriate requirements for data standards across all materials.

This structure was based closely on the collection management life cycle and integrated collection management work across all formats. As a result, it provided the platform for the implementation of a number of other key changes and efficiencies.

Allocation of work ‘appropriate to grade’

A clear finding from the data collection and the staff survey in particular was that, within their roles, some staff worked across almost all tasks within the collection management function. Teams had become quite ‘thin’, with an insufficient number of junior professional and support roles. This had resulted in senior staff spending a proportion of their time on simpler activities that were not appropriate to their job grade and salary level. The review made a number of recommendations for reallocating work in a more cost-effective way.

Processes

Consistent feedback was received throughout the review that much more could be done to standardise procedures between the different work units within the collection management function. Broadly similar collection management tasks were carried out by different teams, yet different approaches were taken according to format. There was also an absence of strong processes in some areas, a factor nominated by staff as an important impediment to efficiency.

Building more formalised processes was therefore an important recommendation from the review. Standardisation of work processes had the potential to provide a number of efficiency benefits, including:

  • A consistent standard of work; and
  • ‘Process velocity’ and faster completion of tasks.

Clear processes and criteria for different tasks could also provide:

  • Greater flexibility in resourcing and sharing of workload; and
  • Opportunities to allocate less complex tasks to more junior staff.

This recommendation has been adopted by the Library and work is being undertaken to build more transparent processes.

Planning and prioritisation of work

The new structure included a work unit responsible for strategic planning in relation to the collection and the work required to manage the collection. This is a relatively small team with specialist positions dedicated to policy and strategy.

The establishment of this unit has been a significant part of the change for a number of reasons. Firstly, in an environment where there are fewer staff resources, strategic prioritisation of work becomes critical. This unit sets the strategic direction for the management of the collection so that resources can consistently be allocated to the most important projects or areas of activity. One impact of the greater focus on work planning has been the reduction in project backlogs.

Secondly, the establishment of this unit has strengthened the Library’s capacity to manage its collection as a whole. One team now has lead responsibility for this task, which has given the Library greater visibility of this important asset and greater assurance as to its management.

Digital collecting

A consistent theme throughout the review was concern that the Library had a significant gap in relation to management of digital resources. This has been a challenge for all large libraries and few in Australia could be regarded as having resolved the issue at this stage. However, it was important that the Library started to fill gaps in the management of digital resources, including developing a stronger approach to data standards and quality and building capability and capacity in digital collecting. For this reason, the review recommended the creation of a specialist unit to support this work.

This unit has consolidated some collection management activities that were previously performed across the Library’s collection services areas and the Library’s IT area. It is the ‘business owner’ of Library systems relating to the management of the collection and has recently led a large-scale renewal of those systems.

This unit is supporting the Library to bridge the gap in relation to digital collecting and to transition into a more digital future.

Reflections on the implementation journey: progress to date

It is now almost two years since the review was completed and the Library has made steady progress in implementing the recommendations. The necessary staff reductions have been achieved and budget savings made, with a new structure put in place in June 2014. In a recent staff survey about the change process, staff indicated that there were many positive aspects of this change. From their perspective, the review had helped to identify skills and capability needs and gaps; eliminate duplication of activity across the branches; create flatter structures; and increase collegiality and knowledge-sharing, particularly through the colocation of teams. At the same time, staff identified areas where continued focus was required.

From the perspective of the Library’s leadership, a number of important lessons have been learnt about managing a change of this type.

The scale of change

It is important to recognise that the organisational change undertaken by the Library in relation to the collection management function was radical or transformative change rather than incremental change (Greenwood and Hinings 1996). The Library was seeking to make a fundamental break with its traditional pattern of organising (by format) and establish an alternative structure which would not only reduce budget but also enable it to succeed in a new environment. An indicator of the extent of the change is that all staff had to move into new roles and different branches on the first day of the new structure (6 June 2014). Significant budget savings (20%) have been achieved but it has required fundamental organisational change.

Factors required to drive change

The Library had previously attempted to streamline its collection management function but without success. In looking back at the current change process, several factors can be identified as contributing to it greater success.

  • The evidence base for the review was very strong because of the detailed research undertaken.
  • The review was undertaken by an independent consultancy firm, giving the findings greater credibility and persuasive power with Library Executive and staff.
  • The review process was constantly supported and championed by the most senior Library leaders.
  • The Library’s focus on change did not stop with delivery of the review findings but has continued throughout the implementation process. Senior leaders have continued to drive the change with ongoing staff consultation.

Limitations on the pace of change

While the change has delivered many benefits to the Library it has also taken time to implement. There have been two key factors influencing the pace of change:

  • The Library has two separate library management systems for managing its collections. In December 2014 the Library announced that it will commence implementation of a state-of-the-art library management system in 2015/16. It is anticipated that the integrated solution will provide the Library with enhanced discovery of collections, but also achieve efficiencies in the collection management function.
  • The implementation of the collection management function review recommendations coincided with a period of significant organisational change: similar reviews across the organisation (and changes to organisational structures); the implementation of new enterprise systems; and a new employment Act which has required new procedures for the recruitment of staff.

Resourcing the new structure

The Library has continued to review the new structure and adjust roles where required to ensure achievement of its objectives. Some roles have been redesigned slightly as experience with the new structure has revealed better ways to work. The Library has also recognised the need to bring in specialists on short term contracts to work on particular projects. The resourcing structure has therefore become more flexible and capable of responding to changes in workload.

Implementing more standardised processes

A key finding from the review was the need to build more formalised work processes. In the previous structure some key areas of the collection function were not documented. With the significant number of staff in new positions and the loss of knowledge and expertise due to staff leaving the organisation there is a critical need for documented procedures and consistency in practices. The Library continues to work with staff to design new processes and this remains an important focus during the implementation phase.

References:

Abbott, A. (1998). “Professionalism and the future of librarianship.” Library Trends 46(3):14.

Alvesson, M. (2004). Knowledge Work and Knowledge-Intensive Firms. New York, Oxford University Press.

Greenwood,R., C.R.Hinings, et al. (1990). “The P2-Form of Strategic Management: Corporate Practices in the Professional Partnership.” Academy of Management Journal 33: 725-755.

Greenwood, R. and C. R. Hinings (1996). “Understanding radical organizational change: bringing together the old and new institutionalism.” Academy of Management Review 21: 1022-1055.

Howard, J.H. (1991). “Leadership, Management and Change in the Professional Service Firm.” Business Quarterly 55(4): 111-118.


 

Happy birthday – Fyusion turns 12!

Posted on February 1st, 2016 by Lisa Koch

Happy birthday - Fyusion turns 12!

Today is a significant anniversary for Fyusion – the firm was established 12 years ago on 28 January 2004. We have been fortunate over the last 12 years to have worked with Government at all levels and across emergency services, transport, justice, health, human services, education, the arts, taxation and central government.  It has been a wonderful journey so far.

So, where did we start? I have always been interested in the role, function and community service obligations of Government at all levels.  It is a challenging and complex sector but a most rewarding one to work with and contribute to. After running a consulting practice in the NSW Government, I decided to establish Fyusion so that I could continue to do what I loved but from a different perspective.

Fyusion started in 2004 during the time of a buoyant economic environment.  I recall many of our Government clients were in a fight for talent and couldn’t recruit fast enough to meet the needs of their ever-growing projects. What was interesting about this time was that there was considerable scope for innovation, and exploration across policy and delivery agencies.  New services could be introduced, there was heavy investment in IT and people were developed and cultivated to combat the ‘war for talent’. Efficiency rather than savings was top of mind. Some sectors in Government were preparing themselves for the exit of as much as 50% of their workforce over the next ten years through retirements. Redesigning the workforce to overcome this and an urgent need to capture and transfer knowledge were key features of our consulting engagements.

Four years later…..the GFC hit….priorities changed and budgets appeared to shrink overnight.  Then 2012 saw a further tightening of spending. Downsizing, savings and restructuring the public sector has driven most projects since 2008. Some of our government clients have halved in size and have had to do some very interesting thinking about their capability, delivery and core services. Over the last eight years projects have focused on removing duplication, doing more with less, redesigning organisations, and identifying real savings.  Although challenging we have seen some highly innovative outcomes which have injected new life and renewed focus into many Government organisations.  As the savings have become harder to find, Government agencies have had to reinvent themselves and learn to operate completely differently compared to the previous 15-20 years.  It will be interesting to see how this transition continues over the next 12 years and how Government will continue to reshape to meet new demands but most importantly the needs of the community.

I am indebted to our clients for willing to partner with us over the years and allow us to become part of their organisations during our projects. Thank you also to my wonderful team who have made the last 12 years so enjoyable.  I am looking forward to another 12 years and beyond…..


 

Getting to know the NSW Public Sector Capability Framework

Posted on January 27th, 2016 by admin

From its inception, one of the key priorities for the NSW Public Service Commission has been the development of a Capability Framework for the public sector. A well-articulated set of capabilities was essential if the Commission was to achieve its objective of building a high-performing public sector workforce.

While the concept of a capability framework is familiar to those working within the Commonwealth public sector, it represents a new approach to workforce management for the NSW public sector. The capabilities are essential inputs, and provide a consistent underpinning, to everything from the design of roles through to recruitment and performance management. So while it might take some time to become familiar with the Framework, there are practical benefits to be realised from applying it.

For recruitment and selection, the Framework provides the platform for designing roles around the broader skill set required for their successful execution. Role descriptions no longer revolve around the tasks required to be completed within the role but instead focus on the key capabilities required for the role. So, rather than recruiting on the basis of past experience in executing specified tasks, the field can be broadened to attract candidates with the critical skills needed to carry out all dimensions of the role. There is a much greater chance of attracting applicants who will be able to develop the role into the future and who will truly be the “right person for the role”.

For managers, the capabilities provide benchmarks as to what can be expected of staff at different levels. It can often be very difficult to assess softer skills such as communicating effectively or working collaboratively within a team. The Capability Framework describes what these skills should “look like” in execution and provides practical examples of how they should be demonstrated according to the requirements of the role. Managers therefore have an objective basis for assessing employees’ performance and can use these benchmarks to coach staff to bridge performance gaps.

Finally, for public sector staff, the Capability Framework provides a roadmap for skills development and career progression. It shows how staff need to develop their skills through stages, such as:

cpaability framework

In our experience, the Capability Framework is a valuable resource across all elements of the employment cycle and will support the development of a more agile, mobile and flexible public sector workforce in NSW. It is worth getting to know.


 

Capturing organisational knowledge

Posted on January 27th, 2016 by admin

Given the ongoing push to realise savings across both the public and private sectors, it is likely that high staff turnover will continue to impact organisations over coming years. Whenever a staff member moves on for any reason, there is a risk to the organisation of losing the knowledge the person has acquired over the course of their employment – like their understanding of key processes and procedures, workplace culture, and stakeholder management. This knowledge can build up over years of working with an organisation, and can continue to be a highly valuable resource after the employee has moved on – if you know how to retain it. Good knowledge capture involves eliciting knowledge from the person who currently holds it, distilling that knowledge, and repackaging it in a way that makes its accessible as a resource to the organisation.

Fyusion recently completed a project for a public sector client in which a key role (and point of risk for the organisation) was about to retire. This person held a vast amount of institutional knowledge and expertise, and only had a very short period of time in which to hand this over to the person newly recruited to the role. Feedback from participants and senior management indicated that this short project (completed within two weeks) successfully achieved the key outcome of retaining institutional knowledge and thereby reducing the risk to the organisation posed by the staffing change.

So how can you go about capturing this knowledge?

  1. Map key processes and practices with the exiting staff member;
  2. Support this with network maps (who to go to for specific types of information);
  3. Where possible, facilitate a discussion about the processes and maps between the incoming and outgoing staff members;
  4. Develop lists of supporting documents and tools required to carry out the processes; and
  5. Identify key issues for transition.

This information can now be used as a resource and reference point for the incoming staff member.

Process mapping is just one way to capture your employees’ valuable knowledge. To find out more about how Fyusion can support your organisation with knowledge capture, contact Lisa Koch on 0419 875 775 or lisa.koch@fyusion.com.au


 

Testing the market – where do I start?

Posted on January 27th, 2016 by admin

Many managers we have worked with find themselves, at one time or another, in a situation where they need to navigate a procurement process. Without much support or perhaps even having undertaken a gruelling government procurement process before, they nervously begin to tiptoe through what feels like a minefield to acquire a value-for-money solution. Navigating this pathway can be extremely daunting when you have various levels of oversight looming, from management, audit and – more seriously– ICAC in the government space.

Those in the know can find the road to procurement success – but with the State Government’s devolution of procurement in full swing, an agency can easily be left wondering where to start. How do you ensure that your procurement outcome is optimal and that the process you have taken will stand up under scrutiny?

The greatest mistake is to jump straight into developing the requirements for your tender. The key to success is to be an informed buyer. Charging ahead without all the information you need can result in a lengthy and poor outcome. Take the time to consider:

1. Procurement plan and approach:
Remember that procurement pathways can take many forms – all of these should be considered, from extending existing solutions, partnering with other organisations, piggybacking on existing contracts, and approaching the market. An RFT is very time-consuming and is not always the only solution!

2. Requirements of end users:
Consider users, owners, other business units, organisation plans and strategies. This means having open and frank discussions with internal stakeholders to really understand the drivers and outcomes that will inform the procurement requirements and your strategy to meet the need.

3. The capability of the market:
Don’t be afraid to take your ideas out into the marketplace to find out who can do what by communicating with both previous and new suppliers. The better informed you are, the better the outcome will be – so before you begin to develop your requirements, get out there, talk to industry and find out how they can meet your needs.

In our experience, good procurement planning will always save you time, money and resources in the long run – overall, a much better result.

testing the market


 

Looking back over 2015

Posted on January 27th, 2016 by admin

For many people, this is the time of year for reflecting on the 12 months just gone, and it is no different in the Fyusion office. As consultants, our work is driven by our clients’ needs and the changes and challenges they are asked to respond to. So what have been the themes that we have observed this year?

For many of our clients, 2015 has been a year of trimming budgets and finding further areas for savings to meet reduced funding allocations. Agencies have had to review roles and team resourcing to ensure that work is being performed at the appropriate level and in the most efficient way. Many teams have been restructured and ‘delayered’ to minimise unnecessary levels of management. For many agencies, structures are much leaner now than they were 12 months ago.

For other clients, the pressure to find savings has come as a result of consolidation with other agencies or ‘clustering’. In these cases, back office functions have come under the spotlight and agencies have been expected to find savings by merging common corporate support activities. Even where agencies have not been subject to machinery of government changes, they have been asked to investigate and plan for the move into a shared services environment. Inevitably, this leads to a reconfiguration and streamlining of team structures for corporate support functions.

Agencies are not only trimming team structures. Work processes have also had to be scrutinised, with agencies looking for ways to remove unnecessary activities and automate tasks, or at least make greater use of online systems.

Taken together, this environment is producing some noticeable trends. Agencies are increasingly focused on building the skills and capabilities of their staff so that staff can execute their roles as effectively as possible. This has brought into relief the importance of strong performance management and development systems. Many of our clients are looking for assistance to undertake skills assessments, develop training strategies, identify skills gaps and ways to fill them and support staff with coaching and development programs.

With many agencies under considerable pressure to deliver savings quickly, managers are paying much closer attention to the change management process. It is never easy to implement change but it is much more difficult to implement change smoothly in a climate of reduced resources and in which staff are experiencing ‘change fatigue’. Our clients are increasingly seeking assistance with the challenges of implementing change and, for our consulting team, change implementation plans are now an expected deliverable for any organisational review project. Fyusion has always offered a wide range of change support services but the demand for these services has grown significantly this year.

Looking across the last 12 months, 2015 has been a year where agencies have had to work hard to support staff and maintain a productive working environment while also delivering significant levels of change. For many of our clients, it has been a year where their management skills have been tested and honed. For Fyusion, it has been a year of working closely with our clients and finding creative solutions to support them through these challenges.


 

Our Key Services

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    Consultation and Research

    Investigate and better understand critical issues through research, evaluation and stakeholder consultation.

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    Organisational Design

    Assess, review and redesign organisational structures, business processes and job roles.

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    Workforce and People Systems

    Enhance organisational capabilities through job design and analysis, training, performance assessment and skills development.

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    Change Management

    Manage and implement the technical and cultural aspects of organisational change with a program customised to your organisation.

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    Organisational Planning and Review

    Support your organisation to achieve its objectives by creating a structured strategic, business or marketing plan.

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    Procurement and Independent Expert Advice

    Engage an independent specialist to support procurement, change management and training projects and prepare reports and corporate publications.