What essential tweaks could you make to your workflow to save many hours per week through re-engineering? Jinfo's director of research, Robin Neidorf, explains.
An information team that Jinfo works with is now saving more than 10 hours a week, thanks to essential tweaks to their workflow.
Here's how they did it:
These projects became our target for re-engineering.
The team created "recipes" for these projects - literally the step-by-step description of how that project gets done. Then we talked through each recipe, looking for steps at which an information professional needs to make a decision.
Take a look at Figure 1, which documents the steps at the start of the project. The first 5 steps require no decision-making; an assistant, intern or effective admin could easily do these steps without any guidance from a trained information professional.
Figure 1: Start of recipe, showing where information professional needs to start making decisions
Then we get to step 6, which requires access to special products, as well as greater knowledge about research and the types of results that will matter to the end user.
Figure 2 shows an extract from the end of the project recipe, when the deliverable is put together. Here we see that only one step out of nine - the writing of the executive summary - requires the skills of an information professional; the rest can easily be done by an intelligent aide.
Figure 2: End of the recipe, showing only step requiring an information professional to contribute insight
Simple re-engineering = big relief
Some simple re-engineering improved the workflow for these projects and moved the lower-value tasks off the desks of the information professionals. In addition to getting an admin with a bit of extra capacity to do the first few steps of each project, the information team moved the creation of the executive summary to the end of the research phase, rather than inserting it into the formatting phase. Then the whole package could be passed back to the admin for the final details.
The whole process took about 90 minutes to analyse, then another 2 to 3 hours to set up access for the admin and provide basic training. An investment of under 4 hours is now saving them 40 hours per month.
In this case, the team is fortunate in that there are administrative resources with available capacity to support this work. If that resource had not been available, they would have applied Jinfo's principles of optimisation:
Not every re-engineering effort will yield the same benefit, but the process is invaluable for ensuring you and your team invest your most limited resource - your own time - to best effect.
If you're trying to do more with less (and who isn't?), Jinfo's principles of optimisation offer a framework for scaling your work without sacrificing quality.
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This Research Focus provides analysis, expert articles and product reviews on the state of play for current awareness services. (October - December 2017).
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