By Amanda Armstrong, DPL Cohort 75.5, Business Librarian, Denver Public Library
My first Black Belt project started thanks to a wonderful coincidence; I attended my Green Belt training with Peak Academy the day before a BizBoost Team Meeting. This team of five librarians provides one-on-one appointments to train business owners and entrepreneurs to use the library’s sophisticated databases to obtain credible, quantifiable data for their business and marketing plans. In my role as Business Librarian, I coordinate the team’s efforts.
To get an appointment with our team, customers complete a BizBoost Request Form on the Denver Public Library website. The customers’ requests come to a central mailbox, where the librarians review them and then contact the customer to schedule a mutually convenient appointment.
As I had prepared for the team meeting in the week prior, my plan was to introduce an initiative where we would test having me respond to and schedule all of our appointments instead of having it handled by each team member. My manager and I thought this might streamline the process for staff and customers, so we wanted to try it out. But after attending Green Belt training with Peak Academy, I decided to tap into the knowledge of our great team. So, after receiving my manager’s okay, I created a new plan.
At the team meeting, we mapped the BizBoost process from beginning to end, identified the waste, and evaluated our findings. In beginning to brainstorm, I learned that another appointment team had tried having one person coordinate all appointments, and they had learned that schedules often fluctuated resulting in a great deal of back and forth communication (lots o’ waste!). In addition, the highest level of frustration and waste came from entering the appointment data in two places, not from scheduling.
As a result, we identified three solutions:
- Ask the Reference Department Managers to make the Google stats tracking results available so librarians could review their entries and avoid duplication.
- Ask Library IT to add a question to the BizBoost Request Form asking customers about their availability. This was identified as an easy lift that had the potential to reduce the back and forth around scheduling.
- Work with the Reference Managers and IT to combine the data collection tools.
Within a few weeks (and coincidentally, while I was at my Black Belt Training), IT added the availability question to the BizBoost Request Form and my fellow librarians immediately reported a reduction in e-mail correspondence. When I completed the Peak Innovation Form, I estimated that this one simple change cut in half the amount of time it typically took to schedule an appointment. This is going to save the BizBoost Team about 18 hours a year, with a similar saving for our customers.
In September, two librarians began testing the new combined data collection tool to verify that it worked well and had the necessary reporting functionalities. There were a few hiccups and updates, which IT put in place quickly. In October 2018, the entire department began using the combined tool and it has been very exciting to see all of the data coming together in one place. This saves time for our librarians, simplifies the training process, and allows us to run reports about appointments from one system. This morning, I asked for feedback at a Reference Department staff meeting, and multiple staff members responded by giving me the thumbs up.