James Breakell, UK Managing Director of D-Tech International talks about the procurement process in the library sector and how you can make sure that investment in technology is cost effective and worthwhile.
Public or private sector, every organisation bases its procurement on purchasing the goods or services that provide the best value for money. When it comes to library services, budget constraints bring that ethos to the forefront of every decision, but cheapest prices do not always represent best value for money, and at some time or another we have all fallen foul of not doing sufficient research to substantiate our purchasing decisions.
So where do I start?
Look at what you need. Get other people’s opinions. Poll your staff and talk to your customers. Find out where their priorities lie. Ask them what they need now, as well as what they expect to need in the future. Do they want to be able to access the books they want to read, 24/7, or are they fed up with not being able to locate the title they are searching for during your core opening hours? Are your staff too busy checking in books and re-stocking the library shelves to give their attention to customers, or are they too tied up with additional duties to deal with the basic administrative tasks that facilitate the smooth running of the library? Do your customers want to be able to borrow a lap-top whilst they are in the library rather than bringing their own device? Are your security measures adequate or are you losing money every day through their shortfalls?
Analyse your findings and collate them in a comprehensive format, as you may want to use them as the basis for a business-case later. Once you have a clearer picture of what would and wouldn’t work for your library, do some research into potential solutions, then invite some providers in to chat with you. Having done your research, you will be able to question the validity of any suggestions you are not sure about and you can glean additional information at the same time.
Like what you see?
Once you have decided what services will suit you best, make sure you delve a little deeper into the product capabilities. Is it compatible with your current software? Is it scalable? Future-proofing is paramount in today’s fast moving world, and could save you a considerable amount of money in the long run. Check back to your research findings regularly to make sure you will meet all your needs, as well as, hopefully, ticking a few boxes on the wish-list.
Ready to sign on the dotted line?
It may seem obvious, but it is very important to find out exactly what aftersales service you can expect to receive from your provider. If you have gone to the expense of installing new equipment and software, you need to be sure that you will receive support throughout it’s expected lifespan, and not asked to upgrade to a ‘better’ model a few years down the line. At D-Tech International we are very proud of our customer support and because we manufacture our own equipment we are in the best position to be able to maintain it, as well as fix it in the unlikely event that it should go wrong. If you’re looking for as a security/staffing/infrastructure solution to maximise efficiency and minimise losses, D-Tech can meet your needs with high performance technology products and services. Using technologies including electromagnetic (EM), Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID), and thermal imaging, D-Tech International provides advanced library control management solutions for public libraries, schools, colleges and universities. Self-service stations, perimeter-based security systems, laptop storage and charging, inventory wands, and people counters are just some of the products D-Tech International supplies to improve the productivity and service delivery of its customers. If something needs tracking, returning, lending, vending, storing, or sorting, the team at D-Tech International can develop, manufacture, supply and service a solution.