Survival Lessons for Libraries: ALTERNATE SOURCING: A Critical Component of Your Survival Toolkit by ProQuest


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									     Survival Lessons
     for Libraries                                                                        ALTERNATE
                                                                                             A Critical
                                                                                               of Your
     By rigorously evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of                              Toolkit
     all information service activities in terms of “buying” rather than
     “making,” library managers can take a leadership role and put
     themselves in a position to, if not control the decisions, at least
     not get caught by surprise.

                                                          Research Background
                                                             In 1942, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business
                                                          Administration, Bureau of Business Research published the
                                                          case study “Make or Buy: A Consideration of the Problems
                                                          Fundamental to a Decision Whether to Manufacture or Buy
                                                          Materials, Accessory Equipment, Fabricating Parts, and
                                                          Supplies.” The study was written by James W. Culliton, a pro-
                                                          fessor of business management at Boston College’s School
                                                          of Business Administration.1 Culliton’s thesis was that “every
                                                          economic entity, whether it be a family, a business, or a gov-
     by Toby Pearlstein
                                                          ernment, frequently must decide whether to make or to buy
     Former Director
     Global Information Services                          the things it needs.”2
     Bain & Company, Inc.                                    At the time, Culliton noted that “despite the frequency with
                                                          which make or buy alternatives arise in business, there is little in
     and James Matarazzo                                  business literature to tell how businessmen make the choice, and
     Dean and Professor Emeritus                          there is even less dealing with the way in which businessmen
     Graduate School of Library and Information Science   should proceed when faced with the alternative of making or of
     Simmons College                                      buying.”3 He called for the development of a more systematic

32   SEARCHER ■ The Magazine for Database Professionals
                             SURVIVAL LESSONS FOR LIBRARIES               September 2009       33

procedure than simply listing the possible advantages or disad-             Fahy (2008) is convinced that outsourcing the management
vantages for discovering whether, in a specific instance, making        of information in the legal profession is here to stay. 10 She sug-
or buying could be expected to bring the greater advantages.            gests that information managers see this as an opportunity to
    Culliton recognized that labor problems, quality considera-         increase the value of the remaining in-house staff while provid-
tions, and potential savings were fundamental to this decision-         ing an outline for successful outsourcing. Worley (2008), on the
making process and that the decision was actually quite com-            other hand, describes the outsourcing process in the context of
plex, with multiple variations possi
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