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UBC Library Bulletin Oct 31, 1985

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No. 186
September/October 1985
This edition of the UBC Library Bulletin addresses itself entirely to the
presence of Ritchie & Associates in the Library. Ritchie & Associates (R & A) have
been given the administrative nod to continue their review of processing divisions
in the Library, which began with a preliminary study in July.
The Meeting
In a Library staff meeting, held in the Henry Angus Building on August 22,
University Librarian Doug Mclnnes outlined the background, goals and objectives for
the review. Mr. Mclnnes stressed at the meeting he was prepared to answer only
questions about R & A activities in the Library. But he noted, by way of background,
that the University administration had inititiated a review of non-faculty
departments by R & A. Vice President Bruce Gellatly (Finance and Adminstration)
indicated that a formal review was needed in order to ensure that the University's
resources are being used as efficiently as possible. The review is campus-wide and
has as its main purpose the introduction of systematic improvements in management
Since pressures on the University budget are likely to continue, there is a
need for reliable information and management tools - specifically an improved system
of establishing and forecasting staff requirements. The University administration
chose R & A to conduct the review and to introduce a control system for management.
The review of the Library's operations is part of this campus-wide program and
should not be seen as a criticism of the quality of the Library or its services.
"The need to achieve a particular level of cost reduction was definitely a
secondary consideration," said Mr. Mclnnes. "This review represents a change in the
way in which the University's finances will be managed in future: funds will be
released where they are not urgently required in order to provide for needs that
cannot be met through budget increases. Any unit that cannot provide reliable
information to support arguments for staffing will be at a great disadvantage in
making its case to the University administration."
"It is acknowledged that the Library is an important and sensitive area and
that everything possible should be done to avoid reductions in the level of library
service provided. Throughout the discussions with the University administration,
considerable attention was given to our concerns, which were finally set out in a
memo and generally accepted by the President's office as conditions under which the
R & A review would proceed," said Mr. Mclnnes. "Briefly, these include the need for
control by the Library over decisions about the systems to be implemented; the need
for greater consultation with division heads and supervisors before changes were
undertaken; and agreement that the primary objectives will be improved efficiency
and better management information rather than cost-cutting, with the possibility of
reallocating much of any savings in order to improve services, reduce backlogs,
etc." The size of the Library staff and normal turnover make it unlikely that any
layoffs will occur as a result of this process. "The Library has done well in
avoiding layoffs through previous retrenchments, and will continue to try to avoid
them in future," Mr. Mclnnes said. The next steps in the review of the processing
divisions are scheduled to begin immediately. Analysis, review, and implementation
will take place over the next four to five months at the LPC. After implementation
of the R & A systems, there will be periodic reviews over the course of the next
year to determine whether they are working effectively. No commitments have been
made to review other areas of the Library. That decision will depend on an
assessment of the work done by R Sc A in processing.
The Process at LPC
Ritchie Sc Associates begin by examining a particular department through a
preliminary analysis, which uses sampling methods and observation to assess the
potential need for introducing better management methods. From this analysis, R Sc A
presents a summary to the department heads and the University administration
describing the results of the preliminary study. Any potential for increased
productivity is noted at this meeting. Information provided at this stage is not
precise but indicates the extent of improvement that might be obtained.
A proposal is also made at this stage for a contract to examine in detail
specific procedures and work assignments to determine appropriate changes and
management systems. This contract is outlined in general terms by R Sc A , mainly in
respect to the amount of time required to look at detailed operations and work with
supervisory staff to develop an approach for the particular department or section.
If the proposal to proceed with a contract of work is accepted, the detailed
analysis and planning required to develop and implement an appropriate "management
control system" would proceed on the basis of a predetermined fee and schedule for
consulting support. This contract is negotiated with the University administration.
In summary, there are two separate stages of work. The first stage is the
preliminary analysis, which tentatively determines the potential and the need for
improved procedures. The second stage is the detailed planning and implementation of
a control system for use by management, which will obtain improved operations and
better management information.
Librarian Patrick Willoughby (Catalogue Products, LPC) said, "During the first
stage of the R Sc A study, the University's intentions for the review had not been
made clear. Was it increased productivity? or reduced costs? or reduced work force?
or all of the above? This lack of information, with no written communication
addressed to affected staff between March and August (prior to the staff meeting)
created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety," said Mr. Willoughby. "The approach by R
& A during the preliminary study reinforced the feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.
Staff felt that R & A were 'watching people, ' rather than "watching
But since the staff meeting and the second part of the study Mr. Willoughby has
noted changes. "R Sc A are now documenting their findings, and providing copies to
supervisors, who may correct discrepancies, challenge findings, etc. Formal feedback
routes are available to staff dealing directly with R & A supervision." r
LPC Update, September 4, 1985
Bob MacDonald announces to LPC staff the publication, the "LPC Bulletin", which
will be an ongoing information update to keep staff abreast of the most recent
activities of the review process. There will also be information provided to other
parts of the library system via the use of the UBC Library Bulletin and special
memos as required.
LPC Bulletin. September 5, 1985
A meeting between division heads in Processing and R & A today determined that
the first divisions to be examined will be Acquisitions/Prebindery and Catalogue
Products. To begin, discussions will be held with the division heads, followed by
meetings with each of the section supervisors. An information meeting with each
section will be held before supervisors meet with R Sc A people, in order to answer
any questions about procedures, policy or R Sc A methods.
The first part of the R Sc A work will comprise what they call a "sequence of
operations" study. A written outline of the functions, work flow, problems or future
plans of each unit will follow. This outline will be drafted by R & A following its
interviews with supervisors. Each supervisor will be required to review this for
accuracy, and to provide R & A with any amendments to be made.
The "sequence of operation" studies will be done in all of the processing
divisions, including Systems. It is expected it will take three to four weeks. David
Barkley is the project manager, and he will be assisted by two other R Sc A staff.
All of R Sc A's work will require supervisors to be available. When vacations or
other absences occur, the work will be suspended or delayed until the supervisor is
Meeting of Senate; Wednesday, September 11, 1985.
"What specific steps is the University taking to ensure that, after R Sc A have
completed their contract, the quality of UBC's library service will not have
unnecessarily deteriorated in the interests of efficiency?" asked Lynn Copeland, UBC
librarians' representative.
"The consulting firm, R & A, is engaged in helping the University to obtain
better management information in, among other areas, the Library; this is a clear
prerogative of the University administration. But, beyond this, of concern to many
librarians, is the company's involvement in making changes to the work performed in
the Library. This is of concern for two reasons: the firm has no prior library
experience; and the approach they are taking does not appear to relate to library
service goals," said Ms. Copeland.
Senate representative Jean Elder (History) suggested that maintaining quality
in the Library might be a concern for the Senate Library Committee.
University Librarian Doug Mclnnes said the Library is concerned about
maintaining quality, and will undertake to keep the committee aware of any changes
which could affect services and collections.
University interim President Dr. Robert Smith said a memo is to be issued from
his office, which may clarify R & A activities and clear up any misinformation on
the costs and outcome of the review. (This memo has since been released - September
16, 1985.) Senate should be reassured that the areas of the Library being studied
will not affect the quality of the Library, said Dr. Smith. Senate's concerns
include such policy items as hours and collection budget. Any changes in the Library
will not be made without the involvement of the University Librarian, noted Dr.
Smith. Times of Financial Restraint: An interview with Bruce Gellatly
-From an interview by Donna M. Hedges
The financial restraint problem is the overriding concern which is leading UBC
to seek to downsize in a rational and planned way. Ritchie and Associates are part
of this rationale, according to Vice President (Finance and Administration) Bruce
The traditional budgeting process allowed each division a share of the budget
with arbitrary across the board percentage cuts when necessary. "But this does not
address real problems or effects on services," he said. "It doesn't appear to me
either that line managers have been successful in being able to indicate to the
community what damage will be done to services by such processes."
The Background:
R Sc A approached the University with a service, at a time when the University
administration were talking about "Where do we go from here?" "Through an
observation process, R & A can come up with an indication of how effectively
services are being performed by a particular unit," said Mr. Gellatly. "It has to be
a reasonably sized unit and a large process. In every case something determines what
the backlog of work is, and where the work comes from."
"The process does involve quantification — looking at how a task is done;
different ways/processes of doing or routing work; looking at forms; and giving
managers the tools to plan and schedule work being done, rather than simply
receiving and processing the work. The analysis of each process is examined within
the cycle in which it is being performed," he noted. "When assessing tasks within a
cycle consideration is given to quality. The review is not a traditional time and
motion study."
Mr. Gellatly noted that R & A's review process does employ a different
methodology in each area/department. "Whatever is proposed by R & A gets tested and
is modified to work in the environment. One of R & A's special qualifications is
that following their process of analysis they stay and implement their
recommendations. Most consultants do not," said Mr. Gellatly.
Ritchie Sc Associates: Profile
"R & A do come with good references," he said. "We are the first university in
Canada that R & A have done (to my knowledge). The University of Victoria and
Dalhousie University are now employing R & A. R & A employ about 100 analysts out of
L.A., and 50 to 60 out of Toronto."
"R & A looked first at traditional administrative areas on campus, and to the
extent that we were getting good results there, it's being looked at for other areas
as well," said Mr. Gellatly.
R & A in the Library
"Don Russell (Associate Vice President Academic) and Doug Mclnnes had to be
satisfied that there was something that could be done by R & A," said Mr. Gellatly.
"The fundamental thing is that this is support for our managers and supervisors."
"R & A are assessing tasks. They are not assessing people. They make no comment n
upon the quality or how people perform the job. They address the effectiveness of
how things are being done in terms of scheduling and organizing," he said. "Staff
can be assured that R Sc A are not observing how people are doing the work. The point
is that most people work very hard. It is a case of how the work is organized to
make the best use of their time and talents," said Mr. Gellatly. "What they (R Sc A)
do is to organize the work to make the best use of staff's time and talents. It is
the work they plan, not the people they plan," he said.
"The important thing is that we must know what we're doing, why we're doing it,
and what the impact of any future cuts is on the service being performed. R Sc A can
give our managers the tools to quantify what would happen if we have to make future
"R Sc A bring unique skills to the job which allows for control of the system,
controlling the process, and analysing the work. Most of our managers wouldn't have
the time even to do these kinds of observations. R Sc A bring to bear certain
expertise we can use at this time," he said.
"Whether the review goes into the public services areas in the Library depends
on the results of the first study in LPC. R & A do not make decisions. Any changes
will be implemented by Library staff. And any decisions to make changes will be
implemented by the Library staff. The Library has exclusive control of any changes,"
concluded Mr. Gellatly.
Savings and Cuts
"There's a whole variety of things that are not happening that we need to be
concerned about. One, for example, is the absence of a salary increase for two
years, and now we're into the third year. If dollars can be generated, which can be
freed up and there's no reduction in the performance of the service or the improved
service and those dollars can be used for salary increases - that's one area where
we'd likely want to consider," said Mr. Gellatly.
Question of Secrecy
"There is no secrecy," said Mr. Gellatly. "Communication has got to be through
our own line management people. The point is that the reviews are separate
individual projects. R & A have not come with one overall task. All departments are
individual contracts, all are separate contractual understandings," he said.
"A memo from the President's Office is being issued (issued September 16) only
because some of the questions being raised imply there is some secrecy. There really
is none that I am concerned about," he said.
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