Category Archives: 2015

Use for posts published in 2015

Project Management for the Information Professional

Project Management for the Information Professional by Eugene Guidice


  • understand the importance of effective project management
  • understand several basic terms and concepts
  • know where to turn for additional help


  • defined activities
  • defined time frame – explicit beginning, middle and end
  • allocated resources
  • explicit start and end time
  • explicit goal
  • add value to the organization

Eugene pointed out that many of these points may be inherently familiar just from experience. I took that to mean that this session would label some of what I already know in terms of project management.

The project management triangle tells the story of the project. It includes:

  • time – when does the project need to be finished? are there milestones?
  • resources – do you need tech resources? people resources? financial resources?
  • scope – what is the project intended to do and NOT do?

The key is to keep the three points of the triangle connected so you can add value to the organization. For example, if you have a project where the scope broadens, then time or resources usually needs to expand as well. The mantra I made my attorneys live by was: pick two: cheap, fast or good. The concept is the same.

What are the two things that are the most important, because the third item will be your constraint.

Program manager: someone who manages a number of different projects in a program.

What Gets Managed:

  • Scope: Beware of scope creep, or prepare for it. Scope creep is when people want additional functionality and that requires
  • Risks – in terms of finances, resources, business opportunities
  • resources – individuals, time, financial
  • communications – how will the project status be communicated, how will the project valuse be communicated, how will the constituents who have to live with the results of the project be informed?
  • expectations – what will people expect of the project manager? Will people expect or be expected to work full or part time on the project
  • quality – this is not a question of shabby vs. good. It is question of quality on a continuum. How long to recover from a failure?
  • Change – communication is key as people move from an ‘as is’ condition to a ‘to be’ condition. Training needs to be in place and processes need to be updated.

Before You Start

What is the strategic intent of the project and how does it fit into the strategic intent of the organization?

What is the business case for this project? what value will it deliver that supports that strategic intent?

  • Understanding ‘as is’ and ‘to be’ conditions – how are things right now? What would we like the new state going to look like?
  • scope and approach – what is included? are we going to do a buy or build decision? In house or contractors?
  • risk assessment – based on business case, what happens if we don’t have resources, if the project isn’t brought in on time? How will it impact the organization?
  • options – what are the options from going from ‘as is’ to ‘to be’ condition
  • benefits
  • time frame – should we think of breaking it up into multiple projects?
  • environmental factors – what’s going on internally? Significant change and will project add to chaos? Should we wait until change in leadership is finished? What is happening externally? How is COVID-19 affecting projects? Is there a recession?

Planning the Project

It’s a lot easier to make a change to a document or form, when you are in the planning stage, than when you are in the middle of the project. At this point it is helpful to have a project management tool. The more sophisticated the project, the more sophisticated the tool, but a simple Excel spreadsheet can be fine.

This requires a lot of time and energy. Rely on institutional knowledge and a wealth of experience others have. Talk to them and mine their experience, because it can enhance your project plan.

What goes into the project plan?

  • Tasks
    • Consider scope of specific tasks.
    • Phases/Stages
    • Hours. If they are too big, consider breaking them up.
    • Dependencies – sequence in which tasks have to be executed
    • milestones – spots along the way where you take a breath and say where have been, where are we going, where are we?
    • Roles vs. Assignment – these are different. A role is a job title that is going to work on a specific project. The more granular you can make roles, the better you can allocate resources.

Managing the Critical Path

The critical path is made up of those tasks that will take the longest. Tasks on the critical path define the shortest amount of time it will take to complete the project. Any slip in critical path tasks will delay the project. Critical path tasks require close monitoring. An automated tool can help you determine and manage the critical path.

Feedback Loop

There is also a feedback loop in any project. The start is executing the plan. Next is tracking and updating the plan then communicating changes, especially to upper management. At this point there is a decision point: do we continue with the plan or stop. If yes, then you start with executing the plan again and going through the steps again. If no, you stop the project.

Generally, it is acknowledged that management can handle good news and bad news, but not surprises. Management will see the trend as you keep communicating with them and they make the decision, based on internal and external factors, as to whether the project still has value to the organization. Thus, they decide, based on your work, whether to continue. It is not a reflection on you. There are a number of factors that go into such decisions.

Finishing the Project

You can’t just walk away after all the tasks have been completed. You want to do this even if the project was stopped, so people can learn from it.

  • Make final updates to the project plan – this will become a piece of institutional knowledge for future project managers
  • Make final updates to the supporting documentation
  • Lessons learned – even if a project is cancelled, there are lessons to be learned and lessons that can be brought to other projects
    • what went well / what didn’t go well
  • Restatement of the business case – how does this compare to what we have now?
  • Compare ‘new’ to-be condition to imagined to-be condition – may take time since companies/orgs don’t turn on a dime
  • Recognition – opportunity to give recognition for hard work, growth. This will help you as a project manager, because people will want to work with you again.


I think Eugene did a good job laying out the steps for project management in a 30 minute session. I think anyone could watch his session and have a good idea how and where to start.

Various & Interesting #3

From ResearchBuzz: “The ALA is offering a digitization workshop for beginners at the end of January. “Whether you’re a community repository just dipping your toes into digitization, or you need to digitize old materials to save space and enable greater access, the ability to plan and begin a digitization project is quickly becoming an essential skill for librarians. In this workshop, digitization expert Susanne Caro will show you what you need to get started if you are new to digitization.” It’s not free, but $60 for an introduction to digitization sounds like a good deal.”

Not much today, but I am sure I will find more later.

Reusing Information – the Lost Opportunity

Marc Benioff was quoted as saying “Companies now, more than ever, have an urgency to connect with their customers in a deeper way. But there is a problem, shared Benioff. All of the data and all the devices are not bringing us closer to customers.” Organizations are swamped with data and it has separated them from their customers. Less than 1% of customer data has been analyzed, while 77% of customers are not engaged with companies. “That’s what we are here to fill,” said Benioff. “Get ready for a new kind of customer success.” ” (Blog post, Salesforce blog, 9/16/2015)

This makes me wonder why more companies don’t value information for what it can do for them. Further, I wonder why reuse of information is not a higher priority.

Reuse of information has the following value:

  1. Saves time – when a document is reused, time is saved, because, at minimum, the basic information does not have to be duplicated. Maximum, a document can be created much more efficiently and the ultimate goal achieved that much more quickly.
  2. Branding is preserved – If templates are not set up, then the creation of documents that fit the branding and style of the organization can be a chore to create. By reusing documents, branding can be preserved. Of course, there are other considerations when using save as.
  3. Efficiency – time is a valuable commodity. How many people can the organization use more efficiently if documents are reused.
  4. Content created by an organization is an asset.

Information and documents are often not reused because they cannot be found. This is a content management problem that feeds into a knowledge management problem.

I was recently told by some friends that when they turned 50, suddenly a well known social media company was feeding them ads for Plus sized clothing and laxatives. Nothing had changed except their birthday. This proves Benioff’s point that 1% of customer data has been analyzed and 77% of customers are not engaged with companies. My slim, active friends sneer at the social media giant for stereotyping them and getting it so wrong when the company has the money to analyze the mounds of data they are collecting. Worse for the companies that buy ads: my friends don’t click on those links because they are not relevant.

Content created by someone in an organization is an asset and must be managed with the same efficiency as desks and chairs. Knowledge management programs must be tailored to each organization. Both of these tasks can be achieved with the assistance of a professional with experience in information organization and management.

Various & Interesting

From ResearchBuzz: LinkedIn is apparently making all LinkedIn Groups private starting October 14th. “The biggest change — the one that LinkedIn believes will make a qualitative difference — is that all Groups are being made private; only Group members will be able to see the contents of conversations, and only members will be allowed to contribute. LinkedIn also won’t allow search engines to crawl the discussions, another key, it believes, to providing a trusted private space for people to communicate.”

–> Well, I have to say it is about time. LinkedIn has made some changes in the past year that have made it less useful. I find it useful as an online place to store my resume, but beyond that, it isn’t useful and groups were just annoying. I hope that this change will start to turn the LinkedIn ship.

From ResearchBuzz: The DPLA has released a self-guided curriculum for digitization. “Through the Public Library Partnerships Project (PLPP), DPLA has been working with existing DPLA Service Hubs to provide digital skills training for public librarians and connect them sustainably with state and regional resources for digitizing, describing, and exhibiting their cultural heritage content…. Now at the end of the project, we’ve made this curriculum available in a self-guided version intended for digitization beginners from a variety of cultural heritage institutions. Each module includes a video presentation, slides with notes in Powerpoint, and slides in PDF. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt these materials.”

–>This is great news. Many public libraries have interesting print materials about their local community, but no knowledge of how to get it online. While this new curriculum doesn’t solve the funding question, it is a start.

I saw an article where a security expert was telling colleagues NOT to tell their client to Google some question for which they need an answer. My mouth dropped open, because we have the opposite problem. Info Pros want to help people, but everyone wants to Google their question. What is the difference?

Also from ResearchBuzz: “A brief slide deck, but plenty of resources: Text Analysis Without Programming.”

Internet Librarian 2015

Internet Librarian is one of the best conferences I have attended. It is small, focused on technology and the Internet. In the past it has been to the point and interesting. I heard Liz Lawley speak there and became a huge fan of the possibilities in workplaces around gaming. Of course, HR has not adopted any gaming techniques and the idea is now somewhat out of fashion.

I like Internet Librarian, because I meet other people who are smart, articulate and thinking about the way things could be in libraries and working with technology to realize dreams.

IL 2015 session

IL 2015 session

This year, after a few years’ hiatus, I am speaking again. This year, I am taking a detour and speaking about vendor relations. I am passionate about this subject as I sincerely dislike the negative talk and disrespect often heard in library circles. Come and hear me speak on Monday October 26, 2015 at 3:15.

Register and take a look at the full schedule. See you there!

Questions Around Dreamforce

A number of questions occurred to me as I sat through the Dreamforce sessions, mostly based on my experience working with clients or at law firms.

  1. How does all of this advanced sales type information relate to law firms?

Well, I don’t think it does. Lawyers refuse to think of themselves as salespeople or to think of their services as something to sell, even though being a rainmaker is clearly a salesperson and their services are something for which they want to get paid. From the little I know about Salesforce products, I believe they could be used in a law firm. Knowing each touch a client receives would give the partner for the client a good sense of how the client is being treated. If the partner has clients without any ‘touches’ for a period of time, then s/he would know to find something to send to the client to remind the client how valuable they are to the firm. This is where library staff could assist.

2. Are legal services disconnected episodic events? If so, how does that relate to the relationship based aspect of selling legal services?

If a client is involved in an ongoing legal matter, s/he will have more contact with lawyers than s/he would like. However, for other legal services, such as estate planning, they may be one time or disconnected episodic events. Years might go by before a change in a will or trust needs to be made. Still, the law firm should want to let the client know s/he is important. If the law firm or partner relies on anecdotal information, it is harder to keep in touch. Lawyers are busy and can easily forget a happy client. The law firm should want their client to get to the ‘Advocate’ section of the customer journey.

3. Is the cloud aspect of Salesforce a problem for law firms?

Most law firms are lax about security, don’t read license agreements carefully and don’t require users to change their passwords frequently. In light of that, probably not, but for some law firms the cloud is a problem as companies providing the cloud services allow themselves to share information, via their license agreements, with others.

4. Is the customer/client at the center of law firm transactions?

Most of the speakers at Dreamforce talked about how the customer was at the center of all transactions at Salesforce. Most of the Salesforce executives who spoke reiterated their commitment to customer happiness. I don’t think the same is true at law firms. I think the partners’ money is at the center of law firm transactions. I don’t think money is a bad thing in commercial enterprises (you wouldn’t be reading this if I did), but I do think that happy customers bring in more money.

Dreamforce 4: Mindfulness

I was shocked that 3 hours of the conference was devoted to mindfulness. It was an excellent part of the conference even though it made me feel sleepy.

The reality is that we all feel stressed, at some point, by our jobs. Having tools to use to calm down is valuable. Many times, we seek out these tools outside of work and our co-workers think we are weird for what we have chosen. That a company as large as thinks mindfulness is important really made me pay attention.

All of the speakers were outside people, so I don’t know if the C-Suite uses these techniques, but devoting time to them is a commitment. I can see how they would think it is important, because more calm means fewer adverse interactions between colleagues. Happy workers = higher productivity.

Marc Benioff says that the business of business is to improve the world.

The definition of mindfulness in this conference included:

  • Exercising compassion
  • Paying deliberate, careful attention moment by moment (be here now or paying attention on purpose)
  • Developing awareness, mental clarity and insight
  • Exercising compassion

All of the speakers agreed that the above were the basic tenets. Tara Brach (an American psychologist and proponent of Buddhist meditation. She set up an Insight Meditation Community in Washington, D.C., a “spiritual community” that teaches and practices Vipassana meditation. Wikipedia) furthered this defintion by adding that mindfulness is an evolutionary strategy that maximizes human potential.

Ms. Brach added:

  • friendliness, not judgmental-ness
  • learning to pause, stop, settle
  • take criticism without resentment

We were reminded that it is easy to say “I don’t have enough time” and enable those few words to become an inner mantra and affect our entire lives. The question to ask is how we each can live true to ourselves not based on the expectations of others?

The biggest inner stressor is a sense of deficiency. It shows up as perfectionism, self judgment and a chronic sense of not enough. These lead to:

  • inability to relax
  • fear of taking risks
  • inability to be intimate with people
Chade-Meng Tan also spoke. He is known informally as Meng, and is a software engineer and motivator at Google known especially for greeting celebrities who visit the Google campus. He is Google employee number 107 and his job title is Jolly Good Fellow. (Wikipedia)

One thing that resonated with me with Meng’s talk was his insistence that if you have health and fitness, everything changes. I know this to be true. I know it is hard to fit workouts and eating good food in, but it makes a huge difference. He also discussed the benefits of mindfulness in the workplace, of which there are 3 elements:

  1. Learning to create a calm and clear mind
  • By being able to calm the mind in a crisis, you look like a leader. People want calm in crisis and most cannot be calm.
  • A calm, clear mind gives you choice, power and freedom
  1. Self knowledge and self mastery
    Changes “I am angry” to “I am experiencing anger” which is the acknowledgement that your emotions are not you. Your thoughts are not you and and you are not your thoughts.
  1. Create useful mental habits
  • kindness, which means, for example, that when you see a person your first thought is “I want that person to be happy” You do this because of habit, but a habit move up through you to make you a happier person.

I don’t suppose you can get away from a discussion on mindfulness without talking about meditation. I am not a person that feels I can meditate, but Meng made me think of meditation in a way that makes me think I could do it. Not the weeklong silent retreats…yet, perhaps. His definition of meditation makes sense and is flexible: “meditation is whatever you do that helps you shut out the noise.”

He also said that:

  • we should gather people around us who are on the same path and that magic will happen.
  • Sharing and caring for another human being is a gift you give to yourself. This made me think of moms
  • Perfect your capacity to be present with an open heart as opposed to trying to perfecting yourself

One basic meditation strategy that I could do is taking 8 deep breaths and let them out slowly. It is a start.

Dreamforce 3: Systematic Engagement

In my first post on Dreamforce, I briefly mentioned systematic engagement and some of the ways it works in the sales related/retail world and how it could work in a library setting. I wrote:

“Consider that your customers have a journey (the customer journey),

which is comprised of the following lifecycle:

  • Acquire
  • Sell
  • Onboard
  • Engage
  • Advocate”

I can’t really get these concepts out of my mind. I feel strongly that libraries need to consider all options when setting up marketing programs to increase traffic.

Acquire: how would a library acquire new patrons? What is the best way to get the word out?

Sell: how do librarians ‘sell’ their services. First of all, librarians need to get over the word ‘sell’.

Onboard: if the library doesn’t have the app they can get the patron to download, what are other ways to get people on board with using library services? Sign up for a training session? The least you can do is send them a welcome email. If your organization is hosting a volunteer event, invite everyone to that.

Engage: respond to the user/patron after each transaction. In a corporate setting, I think that talking to people in the cafeteria and the elevator could also be considered engagement. It is important, now, to connect with the customer/patron.

Advocate: this is the nirvana, because your patrons are selling for you. The list above is daunting, but if you can get to it, you earn your reward, because your customers will start telling their stories about your books, your products and your services.

Systematic engagement does mean that you have to review and respond to each mode of communication. Phone and email engagement are not enough. What are people saying on social media via their mobile device? How did they respond to your advertising campaign; do you need to reply to cranky tweets? Where are the emails from the website going? Do communications from all the devices, which can communicate with each other, the web, etc all get through?

All of this tells me that the key is engagement. How do you engage with people? Personalized engagement works better than scattershot general engagement. Salesforce’s new product, Lightening, helps companies make people feel like they matter as individuals and are part of something. While not all libraries or information organizations might not they can afford Salesforce products, there are ways to start the process of personalized interactions without the product. You have to think creatively.

Tell the story of the relationship with the patron, e.g. keep track of interactions. Of course, public libraries have to be aware of privacy, but libraries and information centers in commercial enterprises can track interactions and use it to market to their customers.

DreamForce 2

As I said the other day, Dreamforce was amazing.

The other thing I heard about was ‘personalized at scale’. This is a concept with which I have toyed at various job and during various projects, but the description, ‘personalized at scale’, is one I could not quite grab hold of until I heard it. Yes, I thought, that describes exactly what libraries need to do on a daily basis.

‘Personalized at scale’ is the concept of sending a customer an email with recommendations or personalization in some way based on their past purchases or interactions. Within the realm of personalization, you acknowledge each ‘touch’ with the client, because each touch point is documented. Obviously, using a system to help with this makes life much easier and, according to the conference, is that system.**

Salesforce has a small business unit, but this area is really designed for large organizations that want to seem like they care about each customer. This feature has to be done with big data and computers. There is no company who can hire enough people who have the skills to get to know all the customers and suggest other products. It just won’t happen.

Still, I think that librarians do this to some extent by remembering what attorneys or patrons asked for last time and follow-up. I think it is very ad hoc. Readers Advisory is similar, but not a push notification; it is reactive. If public libraries could send out emails, personalized to all of their patrons I think things would change.















** I know there are other systems that do this same thing and if I get the opportunity, I will write about them, but this post is about Salesforce’s Dreamforce and their products.