- Most important: Impact vs. Cost
- Impact is how many (what portion) of your patrons will be effected; and how profound the benefit may be to their research, teaching, learning.
- Cost may include hardware or software costs, but for most projects we do the primary cost is staff time.
- You are looking for the projects with the greatest impact at the lowest cost.
- If you want to try and quantify, it may be useful to simply estimate three qualities:
- Portion of userbase impacted (1-10 for 10% to 100% of userbase impacted)
- Profundity of impact (estimate on a simple scale, say 1 to 3 with 3 being the highest)
- “Cost” in terms of time. Estimate with only rough granularity knowing estimates are not accurate. 2 weeks, 2 months, 6 months, 1 year. Maybe assign those on a scale from 1-4.
- You could then simply compute (portion * profundity) / cost, and look for the largest values. Or you could plot on a graph with (benefit = portion * profundity) on the x-axis, and cost on the y-axis. You are looking for projects near the lower right of the graph — high benefit, low cost.
- Demographics impacted. Will the impact be evenly distributed, or will it be greater for certain demographics? Discipline/school/department? Researcher vs grad student vs undergrad?
- Are there particular demographics which should be prioritized, because they are currently under-served or because focusing on them aligns with strategic priorities?
- Types of services or materials addressed. Print items vs digital items? Books vs journal articles? Other categories? Again, are there service areas that have been neglected and need to be brought to par? Or service areas that are strategic priorities, and others that will be intentionally neglected?
- Strategic plans. Are there existing Library or university.strategic plans? Will some projects address specific identified strategic focuses? Can also be used to determine prioritized demographics or service areas from above.
- Ideally all of this is informed by strategic vision, where the library organization wants to be in X years, and what steps will get you there. And ideally that vision is already captured in a strategic plan. Few libraries may have this luxury of a clear strategic vision, however.
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