Following up on A.J. Million’s post on alignment, our latest guest blogger post from Amra Porobic and Ulla de Stricker speaks to communicating value. Read on, and don’t forget to sign up for their April 16th webinar.
On April 16, the SLA Solo Division is sponsoring a webinar (click here for details) presented by the undersigned, Amra Porobic and Ulla de Stricker. As the title suggests, the webinar is a pragmatic approach to the challenge so many solos experience: How to demonstrate value to those who make the funding decisions.
We teamed up to distill some key messages for solos challenged by the tension between offering the ‘right’ information services to knowledge workers on the one hand and addressing the perceptions of funders on the other hand. The foundation of the webinar is an acceptance of reality: In a changing work environment where practices we may not find optimal are nevertheless the norm, we must adjust and adapt. We focus on some strategies that may prove helpful – not to mention sanity preserving.
We begin by discussing the changing work environment: Such impacts as staff turnover, downsizing, new technologies, outsourcing, and social media (to name but a few) are producing an understandable attitude of “good enough must do”. Constrained budgets are forcing reductions in availability of content all the while expectations of access to free information vastly overestimate their quality (we are not talking about reputable resources such as PubMed). More problematic still is the pervasive perception that all university graduates are competent researchers; the challenge here is that recent university graduates may have a difficult time discerning the shortcomings in free resources – after all, the university licensed databases were also free to them.
Then, we look at our own realities: In a framework of the risk of our positions being eliminated altogether, solos must – for example – spend valuable time determining how to render professional information support without access to key resources previously funded. In addition, solos must constantly keep up with new (cloud, mobile) technologies in order to understand clients’ requirements.
Our recommendations are down to earth: Focus on the clients’ reality and forget what we learned in library school! For example, we suggest a focus on key decision makers’ perception of priorities and in accordance select a few key activities: Push key alerts (not necessarily articles, but “in the context of your project X, you may wish to be aware of Y”); accept that today’s knowledge workers cope in their own ways; distinguish between clients needing personalized service and clients capable of self-service; and pioneer the introduction of services or tools influential clients would find valuable (even if it is something as simple as assistance with configuring tablet access to information). The key theme is to be a business and project partner, not just a content custodian and service provider.
To send attendees off to a creative future, we discuss impact. Statistics of usage may – but often do not – correlate to business impact value. We offer suggestions on the need for soliciting business impact statements (not the same thing as kudos for great personal reference service): How did our content and service offerings impact decision making, productivity, competitiveness, and other key performance aspects?
We are proud and excited to present our collective wisdom. Join us on April 16!