Jobs to be done

The workshop methodology

'Jobs-to-be done' (JTBD)
The JTBD methodology helps organisations to 'get inside the head' of their users. It can be used to explore their
motivations through understanding the specific 'jobs' users need to get done. These can then be tested/validated with real end users at a later stage of the project.

The underlying assumption is that users ‘hire’ products and services to get jobs done. The workshop attendees (a diverse group of librarians, ebook vendors and publishers) analysed those critical jobs that users are trying to do. Problem areas were analysed and broken down into a series of ‘jobs-to-be-done statements’. These comprise three core elements:-

(1) What is the problem that needs to be solved?
(2) Who needs to solve the problem (library staff, researcher, undergraduate etc)?
(3) What is the particular circumstance of the problem (i.e. I’m on the train with a smart phone)?
As part of the project workshops with a variety of ‘stakeholders’
Part one: What jobs need to be done?

What 'problems' are users trying to solve?

The ‘problems’ students are looking to solve with ebooks are essentially:-
• to complete a particular assignment
• preparation for an upcoming exam. This may include some reading around the subject.
The above are clearly linked to the student’s overall academic motivation. For example does the student simply want (or to put it another way devote the time and effort) to achieve a pass or do they want to attain the best possible result leading to a degree?
• acquiring fundamental knowledge as part of the research process
The Elsevier study noted above cites this as a key job-to-be-done by researchers when they are outside their own functional areas

Fundamental jobs

The jobs above can be subsumed into two the ‘fundamental’ jobs of academic and research success. Students want to succeed (though they may have differing views about what success is) in their course and to do this they need to succeed in a number of different tasks assignments/exams. Of course the university too wants to ensure the success of their students if they are to maintain retention rates which is linked to the funding they receive.
Equally research funding received by an institution is linked to past research success.


The workshop attendees were of the view that the main audience for library provided ebooks is undergraduates. Although a wide range of etextbooks is still not widely available, most library ebook content is very closely aligned to courses and is consequently targeted at undergraduates. As noted above the Elsevier study also identified researchers as users the workshop attendees felt they wree very much a minority audience at present
Part 3: Circumstance
The workshop attendees emphasised that users want relevant material ‘here and now’ with as few barriers placed in their way as possible. They want access 24/7 without being constrained by their location (e.g. off campus) or device.

The role of PDA

PDA has a clear role in overcoming the barriers to access. It enables libraries to offers a range of material wider than the ‘conventional’ (purchased or licensed) collection. In a conventional situation a title may be ‘in stock’ but demand may exceed the supply of copies. Workshop attendees noted that there may be in excess of 300 students on a module and at certain peak times competition for a specific resource is high, PDA helps meets such demand either through features such a free browsing or short terms loan before the library has to purchase outright additional copies.

Analysing the job

Given that the fundamental job or problem to solve is to achieve academic success, workshop attendees looked in more detail at some of the job characteristics. The following relates to *undergraduate) 'jobs/problems'

The objectives customers use to evaluate solutions:

They want to feel as prepared as possible for the exam, read specific information. To know they are reading the right materials – use the authority of their lecturers/academics to guide them to the best / appropriate resources.

What barriers limit the solution

Competition for specific reading
Library don’t have enough copies

What is the process currently used to solve that problem

Electronic reading list – click from this directly into library catalogue
Print reading list – go directly to library desk
Reserved / short loan lending (if they have been placed here)

What alternatives might the user consider when going through this process

Go to similar titles
Purchase own copy (publishers page, Amazon) – students may club together to buy
Purchase second hand
FEES? Not paying upfront so might buy
Authority – academics guided reading
(University book shops – patron purchasing for their own use – not using the library) Non e-books solutions..

Why does the user select the option they do

Laziness / easiest route
Trust and authority – do the right thing – guided by authoritative reading list, respect for academics opinion
Practicalities – digitised chapters only available in specific places
Sense of identity (branding on VLE, University community, VLE more comprehensive tool not just a booklist)
Peer validation

What does the user like about the current option

Easy proxy with VLE: User not aware of how publishers/other web sites work to find the text
Evaluation done for them
Trusted (brand, value)

What don’t they like about it

What are the alternatives if this doesn’t work – STUCK
What are they missing out on – not enriching experience
Technology stops them doing things they could do in print (photocopying whole book , highlighting text)

What frustrates the user when trying to solve this problem

Ebooks work in a different way – get used to many different ways – multiplicity
Different business models – short loan – rentals. Can be confusing
Good solution for one student is a bad solution for others
Who has access? What about international students, partner colleges
Ho do ypu to retrace your steps – if it goes wrong how do you get back there (route to prescriptive)

What opportunities exist for new/innovative solutions?

Textbook rental market
Recommendations and alternatives based on knowledge of user
Unlimited concurrent users
Chapter by chapter purchasing
Engage more with academics and get open / free education resources
Course readers – lecturer get chapters from different books and bind together OR preloaded iphones with course textbooks
Identifying opportunity (from the job point of view)

Who are the customers for this job

All undergraduates
(Stakeholders - Academics – students don’t talk to librarian they speak to their academic)
Staff who have to answer questions when student cannot access the data

What is the fundamental problem they are trying to address

Timely access to information
Specific piece of information at an exact time
Expect to have access – increasing level of expectation – failure if this is not provided
(eg. Need the textbook to pass the exam)

In which circumstance do they most often encounter the problem

Student at home, out on placement (medical, nursing, school – professional placements)
On campus (first years)
Student sitting in room in hall of residence (café, corridor), rather than sitting in LRC
25% distance learning targets
More part-time students (not always on campus when they need resource – often evening/weekend access – no library staff to talk to)

Is there a super overarching issue students need to get to?

Timely information – time and place when needed (fundamental point)
Appropriate information, timely, right place (not nec library – train, home, hospital ward…)
Authority – knowing this is the right information – appropriate resource (guided by academic) ** keep the library in the loop....
Not always someone on hand to help you
Information need (describe content to meet user need – such a peer-reviewed journal)
Put data at point of use
Better information to help user know if the data is appropriate for them
How to describe content in terms of use to the end user
Help user to make the best choice (how does metadata help them) when resources are restrictive
DRM – just show me what I can put on my ipad?
Use of terminology
‘Container’ we put the information is not important to the user (is the container there to help the librarian)

Alternative solutions

What alternatives might the user consider when going through this process
ScienceDirect or other supplier databases,
Independent purchase t (avoid library)

What opportunities exist for new/innovative solutions?

Have one single comprehensive discovery listing of all ebooks.