Best Value and Better Performance in Libraries

C: ‘Getting out of the box’, choosing indicators and other issues

C4: Best Value revisited

Best Value as it is conceived by enlightened managers offers a way of becoming more client-orientated, responding more quickly to needs, improving quality, strengthening team work, adapting more rapidly and building for the long-term. In its more cynical version, Best Value can at best exhibit the control bias already discussed and at worst be interpreted largely as ‘cheapest is best’, ensuring minimal change (for instance, playing down the ‘consult’ element because “the members are afraid of losing their power-base”), or “being herded back by the Chief Executive towards input-output indicators”.

Any such tendency must itself be challenged because, as Kaplan and Norton pointed out in the US business context:

“An excellent supplier may charge a higher unit price for products than other vendors but nonetheless be a lower cost supplier because it can deliver defect-free products in exactly the right quantities at exactly the right time directly to the production process and can minimize, through electronic data interchange, the administrative hassles of organising, invoicing, and paying for materials.”

How close does this come to describing your public or schools library service?