Technology Solutions Planning in Libraries: Overview

This is another topic that I give a 3-hour workshop on, and since I’ve had positive feedback on the other two series of posts on Card Sorting and Personal Digital Archiving, I figured this might be worth sharing as well. To start off, here’s the workshop description:

Whether you’re considering purchasing an ILS or a shared calendar program, choosing a technology solution which suits the needs of your library presents many challenges. This session will explain the process of creating and executing a project plan which will lead to an informed selection. Avoid the familiar traps of choosing a technology because it is; the highest-rated, most expensive, cheapest, comes recommended by a colleague, or they have snazzy marketing copy. Learn how to find the perfect fit for the unique needs of your library. Discover how to gain market intelligence, gather business, functional, and technical requirements, evaluate competing vendors, get buy-in from staff and colleagues, create an RFP and make your final selection. Common pitfalls of choosing free software solutions will also be discussed. Learn how to avoid the instant-gratification snare with these programs that could cost you in the long run.

Five Pitfalls of Choosing a Technology Solution

Making a technology decision on behalf of your library is a complex decision which should take into account your unique infrastructure, current technology needs, and available resources including staff time and experience as well as finances. What’s right for one library or organization may not necessarily be a good fit for you. Here are some common reasons people choose a new technology, but taken individually, they should not be the basis of an educated technology decision:

  • The boss heard about it at a conference
  • A friend told them it was awesome :) !!!!
  • It’s the most expensive, it’s the cheapest, or it’s free
  • The IT department has been working with that technology for the past 10 years and are reluctant to try anything new
  • The company has great marketing copy

Costs of Making the Wrong Choice

Choosing the wrong technology solution can set back an organization significantly in long-term resource costs in time and energy to:

  • Retrain staff on another product
  • Recreate data
  • Overcome bad feelings developed about the technology

When to Use this Process

  • When your library has a need or “requirement” for a technology solution
  • – If you can’t write the requirements, you don’t have a need yet!

When Not to Use this Process

  • Just dipping your toe in the water
  • You want to try a technology because everyone else is using it.

Next: Develop the Project Plan