2018 and 2019 planning kicks off this month

Say it isn’t so!

Believe it or not, the 2018-2019 planning process is beginning.  This will be our third planning cycle under the RCM model, so we are gaining an understanding of the flow of things.  Over the last few weeks, Cabinet has developed a planning calendar to guide our strategic discussions and budget requests.

Based on what we have learned in past years, our planning process can be thought of in three phases.  In each of the three phases, we have to address library planning for the upcoming fiscal year (2018) and future year (2019) budget requests.  (I know, this is where everyone’s eyes glaze over, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds!)

Why three phases?  Rutgers Libraries serves the needs of three distinct campuses and a health system.  We need to support the unique needs of each of the communities with a single shared infrastructure.  In the first phase of the process, we address the feasibility of initiatives and look for ways to optimize our infrastructure.  By doing this together, we have a transparent process with many voices at the table. The second and third phases address two necessary parts of planning – creating a plan and creating a budget.

Phase 1: Environmental scan.  During this part of the process, the library directors will assess the needs of their local communities, identify gaps, and develop a list of local priorities for their collections, services, and spaces.  It will be up to each library director to determine how they conduct their local process, so if you have questions, be sure to ask your director.

At the same time, infrastructure units will be assessing their capacity.  What projects are starting and ending, are there projects waiting to start?  Are elements of the infrastructure outdated or at capacity?  This analysis will result in a better understanding of the capacity of our infrastructure and whether we can take on new services.

In late March, Cabinet will meet in an all-day retreat to review priorities and activities and to identify themes and overlap. We will look at the capacity of our infrastructure and determine which priorities we can accomplish with our existing infrastructure, which will need additional funding, and which should be tabled until the next planning process.  This meeting will result in list of priorities that have been vetted for feasibility for further consideration.

One of the challenges we face is that because we have yet to receive our working budget for 2018, we can’t be certain which priorities will be covered by our 2018 plan and which may have to become part of a future budget request. So, for the time being, we will include all priorities in a master list so we don’t miss anything important. In April, we expect to receive our working budget for 2018, which will give us essential information into the staging of the priorities.

Phase 2: Develop a 2018 plan.  At this point of the process, we will have all the information we need to establish our plan for 2018, which we will do at a late May retreat.  We will use the working budget to separate the master list of priorities into two categories: priorities that have 2018 funding and are therefore part of the 2018 plan, priorities for which we do not have capacity.Before finalizing, the 2018 plan will be returned again to the units giving directors a chance to discuss these activities more broadly on campus. Since many items on this plan will take more than a year to accomplish, the 2018 plan is then incorporated into the Library Priorities spanning 2017-2019 that will be announced at the State of the Libraries meeting in December 2017.

Once we have made our plan for 2018, we are left with a list of priorities for which we do not have capacity. This is where things become more difficult as we have limited resources and must decide which priorities will be included in the 2019 budget request and which will be postponed.  I have learned in my time at Rutgers that it is difficult for us to say that we are not going to do something.  We have a talented, capable group and I have seen amazing things accomplished; but it is important for us to be clear about what is possible. Which brings us to developing our 2019 budget request.

Phase 3: Develop a 2019 budget request.  In this phase, we take the list of priorities that do not have funding and determine what we should do.  Are the priorities important enough to develop budget requests?  We have learned that the most successful budget requests are based on data.  For example, we received funding for new information resources because we could provide evidence of use of similar resources.  If the priority is not well suited for an external budget request, is it something that we might internally fund through the reallocation of resources?  Or is it something that has to be put on hold?  At a Cabinet retreat in August we will finalize the budget requests.

After a few months, the entire process will commence again with the plan for 2018 and budget request for 2019 quickly seguing into the plan for 2019 and the budget request for 2020. The planning calendar that cabinet has developed will help us stay on top of this process and  ensure that we are doing the right things to make Rutgers better. The process takes months and is continuous, but this has hidden benefits – there are breaks throughout the process that give Cabinet members time to communicate and seek feedback about the progress and because the process is thorough and transparent, we will end up with a cohesive and targeted plan that we can all support.



Krisellen Maloney