Crowd sourcing the PEST Analysis by Matt Holland

January. LQAF 2015 is on the horizon. You will be planning revising the library strategy then? Yes? No? Oh well. In the spirit of sharing tasks that are common to us all, here is a first draft of PEST 2015. An Aunt Sally to knock down in the hope of (collectively) coming up with something useful.

Just to recap …

PEST is an analysis of the Political, Economic, Social and Technological factors effecting the operating environment for our library & knowledge service. PEST is a broad brush analysis of the external environment that feeds into the OT part of the SWOT analysis. The Opportunities and Threats to our service presented by external factors.

A point of view …

PEST is deceptively simple. A four by four box or a four letter acronym. The key to getting it right is to choose the right level of analysis. Too broad and it’s, well, useless. Too narrow and it’s navel gazing. So, where do we stand, metaphorically, to scan library our horizon? The Issue Desk is probably too close. Best place is the roof or the top floor. You get a good view, but your still have a foot in the library building.

The focus has to be at the level things effect library & knowledge services directly. It’s quite easy to find factors that might effect us in general but where do you look to find the bit the we should think about. At the moment every news bulletin has an item about A&E overcrowding. The cause, or at least one cause, an aging population with complex health needs making more use of NHS services. How can that effect library & knowledge services? Well, it might be that increase use of NHS services with additional seasonal pressures means that services are operating at capacity at a heightened state or readiness for extended periods of time. Front line service delivery is prioritised over other activities such as training and CPD. The activities that our users might want our services for. In other words changing working patterns and increasing time pressures will effect library usage. That’s what we should think about.

So here goes …


  1. The continuing effects of NHS reforms driving changes in the organisation of the NHS including new private sector entrants into service delivery, new structures and new lines of accountability.
  2. General election and competing visions for the NHS effecting forward planning, funding streams and levels of un/certainty.
  3. Changes in the oversight of education in the NHS through Health Education England and LETB’s focusing on economies of scale, service impact and cost effectiveness of health care library and knowledge services.
  4. Organisational changes and developments. Specifically the applications for Foundation Trust status, ambitions to lead in medical/professional education and research and service innovation.
  5. Regulation and inspection regimes from CQC and MONITOR including recommendations and enforcement actions.
  6. Effects of recommendations of current (and future) public enquiries requiring action especially in the areas of education and training.
  7. Re-organisation leaving staff without access to services, limited access to services and with different experiences and expectations of library & knowledge services.


  1. Focus on cost reduction and cost savings across the NHS.
  2. Changing or new business models for access to digital resources adding cost and complexity to resource provision and resource management.
  3. Squeeze on public sector worker incomes and the high cost of books/resources pushing users back to library & knowledge services.
  4. Changes to freemium software models effecting functionality/capabilities of “free” use of software and/or freemium products going off line.
  5. Costs of an access to journal content effected by national deals with publishers, Open Access and mandated Open Access for funded research.


  1. Changing workforce with recruitment from overseas creating an increasingly diverse user community.
  2. System pressures, higher operating levels and seasonal pressures, effecting staff/users time to use LKS.
  3. Changing modes of professional education and CPD. Specifically access to eLearning, MOOCs and new providers of education.
  4. Changing technology continuing shifts in time and place of access to LKS.
  5. Changing patterns of work, recruitment of new staff, locum and bank staff and higher staff turnover effecting the stability/fluidity/mobility of the organisational/NHS workforce.
  6. Move towards services in a community setting, creating a geographically dispersed workforce, working independently as lone workers or in small teams/groups away from main service points.
  7. Continuing effects of increased levels of university education among the workforce, effecting patterns of use and expectations of LKS.


  1. Ubiquitous access to mobile devices connected to the web. Users can be expected to have access to the web 24 / 7 using one or more devices.
  2. Diversity in channels of eCommunication. What will be the next Twitter, the next Facebook or the next big thing in social media.
  3. eLearning platforms and delivery of high quality free eLearning content through MOOCs.
  4. Cloud computing changing the way we access and use computers and information.
  5. Increasing measurement and tracking of activity online raise new opportunities for metrics and performance measurement.
  6. Cyber security threats and risk aversion restricting access to networks and technology.
  7. Changes to browsers and browser compatibility threatening access to some resources / interfaces.

Leave a comment if you agree or disagree or want to propose a new factor.

Matt Holland, Librarian, NWAS NHS Trust
Mobile: 07747456736,

NWAS LKS supported by NW health Care Libraries Unit (HCLU)


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2 Responses to Crowd sourcing the PEST Analysis by Matt Holland

  1. matthewjholland says:

    Just an addenda. Need to note the new recently released “Knowledge for healthcare
    a development framework” [ ].

    A colleague has also pointed out the push from users who are “born digital” or “digital natives” who have an expectation of remote electronic access to resources. This ties in with one part of the Guiding Principles and Values of the framework “Digital by default – Digital and mobile by default” Page 17.

  2. vkirk says:

    This is really helpful, Matt – thank you for summarising it so well.

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