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Good Times: How to Select a Library Automation System, Part 1

By Mark Maslowski

Once you and your manager have made the decision to invest in a library automation system, the fun begins. Through the years and over the course of many client relationships, we’ve seen several guiding principles emerge, which if followed, will ensure a successful implementation and a fruitful commercial partnership.  In this first of two posts let’s take a look at the first stages of the pre-selection process – assuming that you have already done some homework and have a few vendors in mind.

Get your priorities straight
First and foremost, you are buying library and knowledge management applications from a software provider in order to support a business strategy and to fill important functional requirements.  It is critical that at every step of the way, you test each decision against these two sets of requirements.

Plan your software selection process

  • Schedule adequate time for the due diligence
  • Include key decision makers, e.g. management, IT staff and library staff

Lay the groundwork

  • Make sure you have management support for the funding and staff time you need
  • Confirm real requirements versus nice-to-have 
  • Consider staging your requirements based on what’s vital to startup, versus longer term needs

Assess your existing resources

  • What software do you already use?
  • Is your data in a format that can be easily converted?
  • What internal IT resources do you have?  Are in-house programmers available to you and will they make you a priority? 

Be open to adjusting your workflow and protocols

  • Automation imposes order, and your current processes might include tasks you don’t need or want once you have suitable software

The above are important internal factors; in my next post on this topic, I’ll discuss some critical external factors that should be taken into consideration when selecting your LAS.

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