Support Function and Contributing Processes Redesign/Multiple Processes


The library of a government research lab

Critical Business Issue

The research lab and library had suffered from years of funding cuts, but the area of research had recently received renewed mandate to advance the field. The research lab recognized that leading researchers would require strong library services to access past research and monitor the field, and the lab considered investing in major upgrade to the library to support their new mandate. However, after decades of making due with less, library personnel had difficulty conceiving of the services, processes, and facilities required to support a “library of the future.”

Critical Process Issues

Varied by process, some were more time sensitive than others, but the primary driver was value:  the library services had to meet real needs with the right level of service and at a reasonable and competitive cost.


  • A team of Library Representatives analyzed its current super-system and identified the lab’s value creation processes, then identified the points in value creation at which customers/users could benefit from library services.
  • The Library Team then defined the services of the “Library of the Future”:
    • Reviewed and challenged the value of existing services
    • Brainstormed new services and service extensions, including the possibility of teaming with internal and external service partners;  in some cases these were already existing services  but had to be translated so that the customers could understand the value (for example “Bibliographic and Citation Verification” to “Publishing Assistance”)
    • Defined or redefined all services using customer-oriented terms
  • The Library Team then developed draft profiles for each service, including service description, value proposition, delivery assumptions and options, customer requirements, key performance indicators, funding assumptions, and facilities requirements.
  • Focus groups were conducted with different cross-sections of customers, users, and other stakeholders to get feedback on the value of each service, alternative services, and service requirements.
  • The service profiles were adjusted based on the feedback, and the baseline list of Library of the Future services established.
  • With this input, the Library of the Future Business Process Framework (BPF) was developed. They developed a framework that could deliver all of the services and still leverage the fewest number of unique processes. (The library’s Value Creation Processes would rightfully be depicted as a Contributing processing system on the research lab’s Value Creation Architecture.)
  • The Library Team successfully presented the vision, services, and supporting facilities to lab management and the architects supporting the transformation of the lab.

Key Points About This Case

  • In most cases, a support function’s value creation processes would appear as contributing processes on the greater organization’s Business Process Framework. The support function’s Value Creation Architecture would also include management and contributing processes. The management processes identified were consciously aligned with the greater organization’s management process (for example, planning and budgeting sequencing aligned). The contributing processes were a combination of unique-to-the-library contributions and greater organization contributions from other support functions (for example, human capital inputs from Human Resources).
  • The work was cast as “process improvement,” and that was clearly the desired end point. However, processes cannot be designed in a vacuum, so the focus became “what” value was to be provided by the library (the processes would define “how” the value would be delivered).
  • Using a services-based approach to reviewing support functions was an effective way of understanding the value contribution of a support function. However, it was critical that these contributions be linked in a tangible way to the greater organization’s Business Process Framework to establish credibility and establish the value of each service to the greater organization.
  • Development of the support function’s Business Process Framework started with the “Products/Services Delivered” portion of the Value Creation processes, since these processes link directly to the service profiles (the services being delivered). At this point, a key element of organization strategy comes into play by asking two questions: “What are the unique service delivery characteristics that we need to be careful not to lose or compromise” and “What are the desired and required synergies between the service delivery processes.” In this case, the eleven Library of the Future services were organized into four service delivery sets and processes.
  • After defining the “Delivered” portion of the Business Process Framework, the focus shifted upstream to the processes for creating awareness and getting commitments to utilize the services (“Sold”), and the processes for refreshing, adapting, creating, and launching services (“Launched”). In each portion of the Business Process Framework unique process characteristics and process synergies were identified, and the resulting process strategy was different in “Sold” than it was in “Delivered,” and different again in “Launched.”

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