Process mapping refers to the technique of utilization of workflow diagram to illustrate process flow, generate ideas for improvement, and enhance understanding of organization’s operation in achieving a specific goal. Formulation of process diagram requires initial identification of the process, the collection of information from the population, proper identification of process start and endpoints, and development of task points.
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The most significant example of process mapping in the academic field is the library book-borrowing system. In academic institutions, book borrowing faces dynamic challenges including student card expiry, new technologies, online education, and privacy and data protection that require continuous system improvement to enhance service delivery and satisfaction. Improvement of library services in academic institutions significantly promotes dissemination of information within the academic network, student overall performance and career achievements. Library system is an essential component in the academic environment that requires continuous evaluation and improvement to enhance the availability of relevant and up-to-date sources and eases access to information.
In regards to technological advancement and industrialization, library services have undergone significant changes including the adoption of computerized processes to keep up with the requirements of service provision with the techno-savvy population who are a majority of the library users. Accurate updates of records, decentralized access, and cost-effective service delivery have necessitated continuous improvement of library process.
Given these requirements, the book-borrowing process in the academic institutions has undergone tremendous changes promoted by constant amendments and process improvements. In system improvement, process mapping is the main model instrumental in the identification of weak process points, adjustment of activity structure, reporting channels, information flow, and accurate update of records. In this view, book-borrowing process significantly depends on process mapping for evaluation and improvement of service delivery.
Process Scope and Description
The library is a fast and continuously growing section of the academic field. In the view of the current systems of libraries facing some challenges, dynamic and efficient methods are necessary for production and maintenance of good quality library services. The process of book borrowing requires quick retrieval and dissemination of information that demands the application of improved and automated service delivery channels. The automated online library system assists library staff, lecturers, and students in supervising and borrowing library resources. A library can overcome problematic areas in workflows to allow for highly optimized resource sharing through automatic data availability.
The scope of library system include student validation and addition processes, book issuance, check out policy-deletion procedure, fine system, and book reservation. Student validation and addition process involve creation of valid user login details that control unauthorized access to the library by unidentified users. In book issuance, the system captures and updates the details of the requested book including name, title, author name, published date, year, and edition.
Additionally, the system captures user details including name and contact details. In the checkout policy, the system is updated with the books available outside library setting and those that can only be accessed within the library space. This feature enhances system-user update of book information. Book deletion is a manual process done by library staffs to remove a book from the current records when the book resource is damaged, lost or loses its relevance.
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Book reservation involves updating the system with information on reservation details such as duration of book reservation and associated penalties of reservation. The fine system includes detailed information on charges incurred in case a user loses, damages, and returns a book late to the library.
Moreover, the new system will provide additional features for card order, adding members, book reservation, and check out option. The process utilizes security features that allow access to library services through user verifier process. Additionally, the book-borrowing process entails development and update of books database, book conditions, availability, due date, overdue charges, and effective charge and discharge book circulation. Overall, the system will create users based on permission, user login details, update available books, reserve books, indicate book status, cancel a reservation, show page for the user due date, impute penalties, and reset the password.
The existing model holds limited information on update of books, students, and dates. This system is semi-manual and manages all information under limited capacity within the same context of user and library database (Appendix A).
Student Addition and Validation
The process involves user login credentials that allow students to directly access library services after successful user verification. For new users, the system does not require authorization or involvement of the relevant library staff to add and validate new users. This security problem poses a challenge in data privacy and compromises on school and user information safety. The ease of creation and access of login details impairs the efficiency and reliability of data retrieval because of large data processing within the same database.
New Book Update
The student fills request form for new books to access books that are not available in the school library. If a large number of students demand a certain book, the library management uses this order as a lead strategy in decision making that guides in the acquisition and stocking new books. The library staff members are responsible for record keeping of the new book through maintenance of accurate records in a catalog. These staff members then communicate the availability of the new books to students through sticking of notice in the library notice board.
Book Issuance Procedure
Issuance of books to members requires login to the library system. If the student or teacher does not have the login details, they have the chance to create their user details immediately by filling the online system registration form. If the student uses another student or teacher details, the system will still approve as does not require library staff intervention. After the registration and successful login, the system stores all the information regarding the user and the book such as students name, contact details, issue date, and return date.
The records of the book in the library system are manually deleted from the register after confirmation of loss or complete damage by the user. The library staff entirely depends on user information to update details of the register on or before book return due date.
The current system does not have an automated process of penalty payment. The library staff keeps records of a penalty payment for late date book return and or damage. The library charges per day on failure to return, but in case the book is lost or damaged, the fine amount is reviewed upwards.
In case of failed book check out due to earlier issuance, the current library system does not have a book reservation process but applies on-date book issuance protocol. After a book is returned to the library, the next on-time user accesses the book, as the system does not have records to recognize earlier book search and reservation.
As a solution to the semi-manual system, the proposed system will be wholly web-based online system for supervising and management of the transactions in the library. The project will mainly concentrate on basic operations in the library that involve adding/updating members, books, borrowing/reserving books, and renewing books online.
The new system will help provide a solution to the various complications in the old system. The system will control the actions, requirements, and behavior of individual users. The new system categorizes users into three groups, namely, library staff, teachers, and students. The library staff members are responsible for controlling distribution and maintenance of books while teachers and students are active users of library resources. The new system will be easy to handle and feasible as it offers different platforms to respond to different user commands thus promoting quick and easy access to information. The availability of various information checkpoints for data management in the new system supports fast retrieval of data that enhance service delivery.
The full automation of the library system reduces error occurrences in record keeping and data management. The improved record control facilitates up-to-date and accurate data management promoting efficiency in library service delivery and easy access to information. Information retrieval due to direct point commands of specific data reduces data package, and movement in the system enhances rapid transaction processes. Additionally, full automation of the processes reduces labor requirement, library space, and record-keeping materials, resulting in the overall reduction of costs in the management of the school library.
To Be Process
The new system will provide user portal that prompts login to give access to the library facilities (Appendix B). In case a user has not acquired login details, the system prompts the user to find valid login credentials from the library management staff. If the user provides valid login information, the system calls the next action of validation. This decision making cycle eliminates unauthorized user access thus improving system efficiency.
After user validation process, the system redirects the next step that invokes search of book availability and updates on previous user information on book borrowing. On verification of book availability, the system notifies the user and proceeds to update search record details in the book database on the duration of availability, check out policy, book quality, and the available stock. In case, the book is damaged, the book database notifies management on the conditions of the book and advises on the need to procure a new order.
If the book is available and in proper condition, the system proceeds to the next phase of determining the maximum limit set for user resource access. If the user has surpassed the maximum limit required, the system rejects the request, notifies the user, and logs out the user from the portal. However, if the user has not surpassed the set limit, the system redirects the order to the next interface of library database. At this point, the system provides the user with an opportunity to reserve, check out immediately, notifies on the time limit for book reservation, penalty on failure to check out after reservation, and cancellation of reservation.
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The penalty attached to book reservation is in the form of monetary charge or denied access to library resources for a given period. In case the user wants to check immediately, the system redirects the user to the final stage of book issuance. At this stage, the system outlines the penalty calculation on the failure of book delivery on the due date, updates all user details and book records, and validates book collection.
In reference to earlier book checkout policy limiting book access outside the library, the system invokes and redirects the user to two available access options for scanning and photocopying. These options redirect the user to seek advice and authority from library management on the recommended action. The system then finally checks out the preferred option and deactivates the user from the system.
Adequate academic resource provision has remained one of the most challenging activities in almost all academic institutions. Student book circulation and on-time access to the relevant information requires consistent monitoring and evaluation of the library resource system to ensure efficient and reliable availability of academic information for all. Consistent with the need to improve library experience, technological advancement has significantly boosted the insistent efforts by library management to improve the outlook and general book circulation amongst the students and teachers.
Automation of the library services is a fundamental aspect towards the achievement of the long-term need to enhance availability and quality management of academic resources while cutting on operational cost. However, the implementation of library automation requires a robust framework to ensure core processes are maintained and proper stipulation of feedback channels are provided for friendly user interface and ease of system access.
Thus, process mapping acts as the primary component of system improvement providing the platform under which the main steps of user-system and intersystem components relate and communicate to facilitate stepwise resolve of a user request. The scope of process improvement of library services involves the creation and proper maintenance of user-based login portal, book updates, and check out regulations. Overall, process mapping supports the identification of areas of improvement and adjustment of activities significant in the improvement of library service workflows to allow optimized resource sharing.
Appendix A: Process Map of a Library before Improvement
Appendix B: Process Map of a Library after Improvement