At yesterday’s Talis Bridge Event, Hilary Halliday and Chris Morris from Solihull libraries outlined how they implemented RFID self-service within the library service earlier this year.
One of the most vital things Solihull learnt was the importance of talking to people – talking to everyone in fact about the plans, the timescales and their desired outcomes. Hillary explained that it was also useful to include staff in the decision-making and asking all the teams to envision the new processes they’d like to adopt. The strategy used by the implementation team at Solihull was to take a ½ day with all staff to give them some time to think about and resolve issues and fears, and to expand ideas by thinking through how the implementation of RFID would work. This was also an opportunity for everyone to get ‘back to basics’ and consider the whole spectrum of customer service. It was important to the implementation team that the customers at Solihull were fully supported through the new processes and felt perfectly comfortable with the new machines. The library staff had a huge part to play in making that a success.
Hilary and Chris also emphasised the importance of planning and getting your business case right, and at Solihull, they had a detailed plan for every library to make sure nothing was missed.
Something they hadn’t anticipated was the time it took to go through the RFID tender process, which took several weeks longer than planned. They chose Intellident as their supplier and also chose to use Talis Bridge Pro as the connection between the Talis LMS and the RFID machines. Chris said that Solihull had “excellent support all the way through the process” of implementing Talis Bridge Pro, and they were pleased that it “just worked” without too much consideration being needed from the already very busy team.
It was important that once Solihull had chosen their supplier, the staff had an opportunity to use the RFID pads as part of their daily routines. Getting a large amount of the back office processes working with the new systems ahead of time led to a much smoother launch.
Hilary and Chris also made sure that the project didn’t end on go live day. They illustrated the importance of getting feedback, and continuing to monitor the success of the roll out. Interestingly, they found that children tended to lead the way with learning the new technology, showing the rest of the family how to do it!
RFID is now live in 8 of Solihull’s libraries and since their launch in February they have had over half a million transactions carried out by over 25,000 different borrowers. Around 89% of the transactions are now happening via the RFID machines, validating the move to free up staff to concentrate on the next phase of the project – developing the service and enhancing staff skills to provide consistently better user services.
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