5.1 Harold B. Lee Library BPR Project Final Report


After completing the activities associated with the initial analysis, detailed analysis, and redesign phases of the Harold B. Lee Library hBPM project, the project team has created this final report to discuss the activities and recommendations associated with this study. This project has been a successful experience for all of the participants, and we recognize the efforts of everyone involved.

Project Participants

  • Randy Olsen—Project Sponsor
  • Robert Murdoch—Project Sponsor
  • Dr. Markus Gappmaier—Project Coach
  • Carla Kupitz—Project Director
  • Hank Belliston—Lettering Process Owner
  • Carol Barksdale—Cataloguing Process Owner
  • Amanda Davis—Circulation Process Owner
  • Richard Jensen—Reference Process Owner
  • Kevin Dueck—Project Team Lead
  • Joshua McKibben—Project Team Member
  • Bryce H. Peterson—Project Team Member
  • Jason Thorpe—Project Team Member

Activities Performed—Initial Study

Kickoff Meeting and Initial Visioning—the objectives of this meeting included the following: build a relationship of trust with the client team members, understand the project objectives and scope, gain a high-level understanding of the target business process, solidify project logistics, and facilitate initial visioning. The meeting was successful, and the external project team members agreed to draft an engagement letter and submit it to the internal project team members for approval. In addition, ideas were discussed relating to the ideal vision of the new process and the overall goals of the library.

Engagement Letter—a copy of the engagement letter can be found in the appendix of this report.

Best Practice and Benchmarking Research—while the internal project team members reviewed and approved the engagement letter, the external project team performed best practice and benchmarking research. This research included visiting the Provo City Public Library. The external project team visited the public library to learn library-specific vocabulary and understand smaller-scale versions of the target processes involved in this study. One best-practices principle the team learned at the public library can be summarized by the library’s workflow objective—touch the book as few times as possible.1 This objective helps the public library staff focus on moving the book from acquisitions to the stacks as quickly as possible.

Interviews—the external project team performed preliminary interviews with Hank Belliston, Carol Barksdale, and Amanda Davis to understand the activities involved with acquiring, cataloguing, lettering, and shelving books. From these interviews, the team learned about the cross-departmental logistics of the different library processes and the functionality associated with each department.

Site Tour—upon receiving the signed engagement letter, the external project team began observing business processes at the Lee Library. Hank Belliston provided a site tour for the external project team members and explained the various processes performed at each location on the tour. By participating in the site tour, the external team members learned the following:

  1. The overall process of receiving and shelving a book is quite complex!
  2. A degree in Library Science is required for creating call numbers and performing other cataloguing activities.
  3. An item received by the library can take a variety of paths before reaching its final destination.

The site tour concluded the activities performed during the initial study phase of the project. The majority of these activities focused on observing current processes and environments.
1 Jenne Whitmore, Circulation Superivisor, Provo City Public Library. February 2003.

Activities Performed—Detailed Study

Apprenticeship Learning—after observing the different processes associated with acquiring, cataloguing, lettering, and shelving library materials, the external project team performed the activities relating to the target process—lettering. The current lettering process consists of several activities: stamping, peeling, scanning, printing, clipping, cutting, affixing, and burning. Occasionally, books are covered with Mylar to protect their covers. By performing each of these activities (except Mylar covering), the team discovered the “feel” aspects and the environment of the process. Many details overlooked during the site tour were understood more effectively during apprenticeship learning. In addition, actually performing the process helped the external team to understand the potential complexity of the process.

Picture Card Design Method—the PCDM modeling tool helps the project participants understand the true nature of the target process by modeling the events, activities, people, resources, documents, and exceptions associated with the process. A digital photo of the PCDM model can be found in the PowerPoint presentation located in the appendix of this report. The PCDM session provided additional understanding of the cataloguing, lettering, and circulation processes; the external team members used this additional understanding to continue analyzing the cross-departmental workflows associated with the lettering process.

Participatory Video Analysis—to gain additional insight relating to the subtleties of the lettering process, the external project team set up video cameras to record the process. Initially, the local experts showed signs of “camera awareness,” but this awareness disappeared quickly. The local experts were conversing and working normally within minutes of starting the video taping, and the process subtleties were captured for further review.

Feedback Meeting—after completing the three activities associated with the detailed study phase, the external project team prepared a formal presentation describing their findings for the internal team members to review. During this meeting, the internal team members provided corrective feedback and additional insight to enhance the external team members’ understanding of the target processes. After the presentation, all of the team members began brainstorming and visioning for redesign. The ideas presented during this visioning session became the catalyst for the formal visioning session using the MetaPlan methodology.

The feedback meeting concluded the activities performed during the detailed study phase of the project. The majority of these activities focused on participating in and “feeling” the current processes and environments.

Activities Performed—Redesign

Additional Visioning with MetaPlan—the MetaPlan methodology utilizes colored cards to visually express ideas. Each participant is given several cards and asked to write his or her ideas in capital letters on the cards. The cards are then taped to a whiteboard or chalkboard for all to see and discuss. During this visioning session, the external team members posted ideas presented during the previous visioning session, and the internal team members used these catalyst ideas to brainstorm additional ideas. The external team quickly realized that the most effective ideas come from the local experts! As part of this visioning session, the internal project team members reviewed the various ideas and scrutinized them for feasibility. The ideas deemed infeasible were moved to a different board. The feasible ideas were then grouped by functional area and the internal project team was prepared to begin modeling the new process.

PCDM for Redesign—to remind everyone about the overall objective of the library, the project team wrote the phrase Focus on the Customer! on the whiteboard. The team then began redesigning the process with the overall objective in mind. During the process redesign, customer cards were placed at either end of the model before any of the activity cards were placed. After the activity cards were placed, the detail cards associated with each activity were positioned. As the modeling began, break-through visioning was translated into revolutionary improvements in the process. This activity generated a lot of excitement within the project team as potential improvements were discovered and modeled.

ProcessModel Simulation—to validate the improvements modeled during the PCDM for redesign session, the process was replicated in a software tool called ProcessModel. This tool allowed the project team to simulate the workflow of both the old and new processes for comparison purposes. The results validated the potential revolutionary improvements by fully implementing the new process. Although the project team was unable to represent batch processing, the single unit throughput results were seven times more efficient in favor of the redesigned process. The simulation and the results of the simulation were presented to the internal project team members for review.

Participatory Video Analysis—to validate the logistics of the new process, we brought in video cameras to tape an actual walkthrough of the redesigned process. This activity was enjoyable for all of the participants, and the project team learned more about the logistical requirements to fully implement the redesigned process.

After concluding the activities associated with the redesign phase of the project, the external team prepared and presented the final recommendations.

Final Recommendations

The recommendations listed below were presented to library administration and the internal project team on Tuesday March 25, 2003. The recommendations were discussed and scrutinized. The following were presented as formal recommendations:

Acquisitions Process—the acquisitions process has been reviewed once before by an hBPM project team. Changes were made that provided measurable improvements. While reviewing the lettering process, the project team identified other aspects of the acquisitions process that can still be improved to provide additional savings and reduce throughput time.

Recommendation: approve and launch an additional hBPM project to review the acquisitions process again.

Cataloguing—the project team analyzed this process as it relates to the cross-functional interactions with the lettering process. Because our study did not include reviewing the cataloguing process in detail, the project team had no formal recommendations to present.

Recommendation: None

Lettering—as the target process for this hBPM study, the lettering process received the majority of recommendations. The following formal recommendations were presented, and the implementation of these recommendations could potentially reduce the lettering throughput time from an average of five days to an average of one to two days:


  1. Utilize a reverse workflow strategy to eliminate process queues—currently the lettering employees work on several book trucks simultaneously. This practice creates queues at each work station. We recommend the lettering employees begin each shift working on the book truck closest to completion. After finishing the truck closest to completion, the truck is delivered to its target destination and work is started on the next closest truck to completion.
  2. Combine the stamping/peeling and scanning activities—currently, the stamping/peeling and scanning activities are separated and each have a queue. These activities could be combined easily by simply moving the scanning computer next to the stamping/peeling station. This change would eliminate excessive extracting, placing, and replacing of books from the book trucks.
  3. Redesign the lettering room furniture layout—to facilitate the reverse workflow and combination of activities recommendations, the furniture layout in the lettering room will need to be changed. This will require marginal effort, and the changes can provide a more effective workflow environment.
  4. Place a burning plate near the label removal (stamping) station—books requiring re-labeling must have the current label removed. This removal can be made easier by applying heat to the existing label. To facilitate easier label removal without having to change stations, the project team recommends that a burning plate be placed next to the stamping/peeling station.
  5. Organize the lettering queue—currently, cataloguers bring books into the lettering room and place them on an available truck. This practice results in trucks containing books with different process requirements. By organizing the lettering queue to require separation of new books needing stamps and books simply needing a new label will facilitate more effective truck processing.
  6. Request that a book repair employee come to the lettering room once per day—the current practice to cover some books with Mylar includes sending the book to the Book Repair office. This step can potentially add several days to the overall processing time required to move the book to book processing. Thus, the team recommends a book repair employee come to lettering once per day and complete the covering activity in the lettering room to eliminate the need for sending the book to the Book Repair office.
  7. Perform the final quality check in the lettering room—the current final quality check is performed at the reference desks for each collection. This check potentially adds an additional one to three days to the process and could be performed in the lettering room without having to move the book to another location.
  8. Hire an additional part-time lettering supervisor—to facilitate the final check recommendation, the project team suggests the library hire a part-time assistant supervisor for the lettering room. This employee would be responsible to perform the final quality check and other administrative activities assigned by the current lettering supervisor.
  9. Send book trucks directly to book processing—currently, completed book trucks are sent from lettering to circulation. At circulation, the books are unloaded onto sorting shelves, picked up by a reference desk employee, reviewed at the reference desk, and placed on sorting shelves bound for the general stacks of the library. Performing the final check in lettering would eliminate the need to send the physical books to the circulation sorting shelves and the reference desks. The book paperwork would still be sent to the reference desks, but not the physical books.
  10. Request that special departments retrieve their books from lettering—currently, the lettering supervisor takes the different special collections books to their specific areas. Because the subject selectors must come to the sixth floor to inspect and approve books in acquisitions, they could easily pick up the books destined for their area at that time.

Circulation—the current responsibility of circulation in the target process is to unload the trucks from lettering onto sorting shelves in the circulation area. Because the final check could be performed in lettering, the need to unload the trucks in the circulation sorting shelves would be eliminated.

Recommendation: Remove this step from the process.

Reference—currently, the reference desks perform a final quality check on books coming into their area. The final check in lettering could eliminate the need for this step in the process.

Recommendation: Remove this step from the process.

Book Processing—the project team analyzed this process as it relates to the cross-functional interactions with the lettering process. Because our study did not include reviewing book processing in detail, the project team had no formal recommendations to present.

Recommendation: None

Stacks—the project team analyzed this process as it relates to the cross-functional interactions with the lettering process. Because our study did not include reviewing the shelving process in detail, the project team had no formal recommendations to present.

Recommendation: None

Implementation Results

As a result of implementing the above recommendations, the project team is confident revolutionary improvements can be achieved. The following table summarizes the potential improvements:
Process Description     Current Process Time     Redesign Process Time
Acquisitions                    5-10 days                       5-10 days
Cataloging                        2-3 days                        2-3 days
Lettering                            5 days                            1-2 days
Circulation                      1-2 days                           None
Reference                          1-3 days                          None
Sorting                            1 day                                  1 day
Total Time                      15-24 days                       9-16 days


After completing the hBPM project, the external team members were very impressed with the dedication to excellence of the library faculty and were grateful for the opportunity to work with the library on this project. If the recommendations listed in this report are fully implemented, the team is confident that these changes will contribute to streamlining the target processes and to achieving the overall objectives of the library.


Location / Hours

The Catalog Department is located on Level 6 of the Harold B. Lee Library. The Department is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.