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By Robin Neidorf

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Abstract

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.

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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:

  1. First, we analysed their overall workload and project requests, to determine volume and frequency of types of requests

  2. Then, we scored these types according to how easy or complex they are

  3. Finally, we looked for projects that are high volume, low complexity.

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.

Click to view

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.

Click to view

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:

  • Streamline
  • Automated
  • Outsource
  • Push back
  • Stop doing.

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.

 

Recent Subscription content of particular interest to our customers involved with optimising teams of researchers:

Articles:

Reports:

Webinars - recordings available to view for anyone with a Jinfo Subscription

 

Upcoming

Online workshops are coming in 2018, starting with two offerings on the focus and optimisation of information and research teams:

These are three-session workshops, offered through Jinfo Community. If you have Community on your Jinfo Subscription, you can register for these workshops today.

But you do not need a subscription to participate:

  • £450 for one, or
  • £800 for both.

Registration includes up to two seats for all three sessions for each workshop. Click the titles to learn more, or send an enquiry to support@jinfo.com for more information. Seats are limited.

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