Web Project Management for Academic Libraries

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Schachter also defines a project and describes its five phases start, scope, planning, monitor and control, and completion. Wamsley also provides a definition of a project and describes the five project phases. In addition, she describes the difference between a project and operational work, giving the example of providing reference to library users versus implementing a new reference service such as chat or instant messaging. Anzalone also gives a comprehensive overview of PM basics for librarians, particularly law librarians, although her introduction would be suitable for all types of librarians.

She describes the PM life cycle and covers common PM tools and techniques such as scheduling tools, software and estimation techniques. Most significantly, the author touts the PM approach as a solution to having to do more with less and having to respond to unrelenting technological change.

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In one of the few articles dealing with PM software, Zhang and Bishop discuss the use of Microsoft Project to implement an e-reference service using QuestionPoint software. They provide an overview of MSProject, its features and reporting capabilities, and also examine the successes and failures they experienced when using it. A helpful article for librarians who may be considering using this software program, it concludes with the suggestions that, before using a software tool, the librarians involved with the project consider: the size of the project, whether or not it warrants a comprehensive software program, experience with PM software, and the availability of PM software in the library through pre-existing licenses.

The third category of articles covers issues around PM training available to, or that may be required by, librarians. When describing the motivation for researching this topic, she notes that a consensus among a group of her colleagues at Purdue University Library was that they are doing more project work but had not received on-the-job training in PM. Interestingly, in the positions that called for PM skills related to the IT area, while in the positions that called for PM skills related to the public services area.

Choi and Rasmussen also note the need for PM skills among librarians, particularly those librarians working on digital projects. In , they conducted a survey of 48 librarians who work with digital projects from 39 libraries in order to discover the activities, staffing patterns, skills and training required for this type of library work. When asked what courses should be added to the library and information science curriculum in library schools, courses on the tools and techniques for PM and team leadership were two common answers from the respondents.

Respondents also ranked PM knowledge and skills second highest in importance in performing their work. In order to find out how Ontario libraries are managing their projects, a 28 question web-based survey was sent via seven listservs used by Ontario librarians, posted to LinkedIn and syndicated via the author's blog and Twitter feed.

An invitation to complete the survey was sent out twice, and the survey was open for three weeks. The survey contained questions designed to collect information regarding respondent demographics type of library worked in, number of years at library, type of work staff member is involved in, etc. The questions were developed from a critical review of the PM literature on activities, tools and techniques, success factors and maturity models generally used by professionals in the PM field. The survey was reviewed by a librarian experienced in survey design and by the institutional research specialist at the author's employer and was pre-tested on three librarians from university and college libraries.

The reviewers and testers provided feedback which was integrated into the final survey design. The targeted population for this study was Ontario library staff. A total of 92 surveys were completed in full. There are public libraries and publicly-funded college and university libraries in Ontario.

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One question on the survey asked respondents to identify the library in which they work for the purposes of determining if the results would be skewed due to many responses coming from only a few libraries. Upon analysis of the results, it was found that even though two or three responses came from a single organization, there was a great deal of variation in these responses about how projects were managed at the institution, even so far as to indicate different levels of PM maturity in a question on PM maturity models.

Two possibilities for this discrepancy are that some organizations are so large, with many branches or departmental libraries, that projects are undertaken in many different ways across the organization, or that there is a range of perspectives across the organization regarding the approaches used. The author decided to keep duplicate responses in the sample for analysis as these responses contribute to a fuller picture of the management of projects in Ontario libraries.

The highest number of responses from a single organization was three.


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In addition to the sample not being representative of all Ontario libraries, there was no pre-survey or other means used to ensure that respondents were experienced or had knowledge of PM practices in order to answer questions about PM value and use in their libraries. There was a risk of respondent bias in that respondents were subjectively answering questions about their own libraries and may have answered in ways they thought reflected best on their libraries even though the survey was anonymous; there was voluntary response bias in that survey respondents were self-selected and not randomly selected, and there was a risk of non-respondent bias in that libraries not subscribed to listservs, Twitter or LinkedIn would not have had access to the survey.

Nonetheless, several means of assuring validity were used, such as repeating the same questions using different wording to ensure that answers were consistent and ensuring, as noted above, that no one library or library type was over-represented in the results. In addition to a web-based survey, interviews were conducted with four librarians in management positions from college, university and public libraries, in order to yield a richer picture of how projects are managed in Ontario libraries: in particular the best practices, challenges, success factors and success criteria.

It is important to note that the purpose of conducting the interviews was not to collect data from a representative sample but instead to fill in any gaps that might exist in the survey responses and to flesh out some of the issues by gathering rich, detailed qualitative data about the way PM is performed in libraries. Librarians in management positions were chosen as it was thought that they would have a broad understanding of the myriad types of projects ongoing in their libraries and how these projects are being managed.

The libraries were not randomly selected but were selected instead based on convenience — proximity to the author's home library no more than kilometres away — so that interviews could be conducted in person. It was thought that in-person, rather than telephone or email, interviews would elicit more relaxed, thoughtful answers; indeed, at least one study has found that telephone interviews do tend to elicit less detailed qualitative data Irvine These interviews were recorded using audio recording software during November and December, and then transcribed, word-for-word by the author.

The responses were then categorized for analysis.

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Most respondents came from smaller libraries of staff Respondents could choose as many categories as applied. The projects tended to be small with most respondents indicating that 2—5 people were involved Some library projects engage people from outside of the library as Respondents could choose as many as applied. See Figure 3 for a depiction of the categories respondents could choose and the results from this question.

Web Project Management for Academic Libraries

To determine how projects are managed at Ontario libraries, five questions asked respondents about the activities, tools and techniques used to manage projects at their libraries during the past year. Within each process group are processes, inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs such as defining project scope and developing a project schedule.

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For the uninitiated, these items could better be understood as project activities, and so the questions in the survey referred to them as such. These responses seem to indicate that the more formal the activity, such as documenting plans and having a formal meeting, the less likely the activity is to be completed.

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The execution process group deals with executing the project plan, or actually getting the work done. For the monitoring and controlling process group the part of the project during which the project progress is monitored and project cost, schedule, quality, risk, and scope are controlled , respondents were asked how often they complete six monitoring and controlling activities. In the PM literature, there have been several surveys of project management practitioners to determine which tools are used the most and the least, which are the most and least valued in terms of contributing to the success of a project and which have the greatest and least potential Besner and Hobbs; Patanakul, Iewwongcharoen and Milosevic; Raz and Michael.

Only tools in these studies that were ranked as highly used and most highly valued by PM practitioners were included in this survey question. Respondents could choose as many responses as appropriate. Many respondents took the time to provide comments in the comment area of this question. Nine respondents commented that their projects tend to be small, and so planning and documentation of the projects tends to be done on an informal basis. Two commented that while they saw the value of these tools and strategies, their managers did not, so they used these PM tools for their own record-keeping and management.

Two others commented that they saw the value in PM tools and hoped to start using them in the future, while two others commented that many people do not know how to use strategies for PM. Indeed, Burich et al. Some PM terminology, in particular, may be unfamiliar to librarians. The author also sought to uncover information around the successful management of library projects: specifically, if librarians perceive their projects to have been managed successfully and if there are success factors present that might lead to successful outcomes.

There is consensus in the PM literature around the criteria used to determine whether or not a project is successful. There is consensus in the PM literature around factors that lead to a successful project outcome as well. Management support for and involvement in the project, adequate staffing for the project, a project plan that details goals, timelines, budget and staff, a clearly defined mission for the project, project monitoring to ensure plan targets are being met, and clear communication channels are all highlighted as being the factors that lead to a successful project outcome in studies of PM practice Anantatmula 14; Cash and Fox 10; Hartman 9.

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Respondents were asked to indicate if projects performed over the past year had management involvement, management support, adequate staffing in terms of number of staff and skill sets of staff involved with the project, a project plan that detailed goals, timelines, budget and staff, a clearly defined mission, clearly established communication channels and whether or not the projects were monitored to ensure plan targets were being met.

The scale used for each criterion was the same as for the preceding questions.


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  • This could indicate that communication channels are established but not. Again, this could indicate that the activity is done but not formalized i. In addition to finding out if factors that lead to success are present in library projects, the author sought to discover librarians' perceptions of the importance of these factors.

    Again, this result could be an indicator that librarians do not perceive high value in formal standards and approaches for library projects. This could indicate that, while library staff perceive that it is important to do risk management, there isn't time or the project's size doesn't warrant it. Again, this could be a case where the activity is deemed to be important but there is no time or expertise, or the project size does not warrant it being completed. To obtain an overall view of the PM practice in libraries, the author used the Project Management Maturity Model which defines five levels of PM maturity in organizations and is a way of measuring the performance of an organization when managing its projects Kwak and Ibbs 40; Sawaya and Trapanese 45; Vandersluis It is important to note that the model doesn't assume that the higher you are on the scale the better you are at managing projects.

    It is merely an indicator of the level of standards and processes that are used in an organization and so easily gives a snapshot. This result is not surprising given the responses to previous questions in which the more formalized activities did not receive responses which would indicate they are completed frequently.

    Respondents were asked if they strongly disagree, disagree, agree, or strongly agree with statements about how projects are managed at their library. Managing the process of building and maintaining an effective library website can be as challenging as designing the product itself. Web Project Management for Academic Libraries outlines the best practices for managing successful projects related to the academic library website. The book is a collection of practical, real-world solutions to help web project managers plan, engage stakeholders, and lead organizations through change.

    Topics covered include the definition and responsibilities of a web project manager; necessary roles for the project team; effective communication practices; designing project workflow; executing the project; and usability testing and quality control. The techniques recommended are drawn from the experiences of the authors and from library and project management literature.

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