Sadness

Inventory User Guide

User Guide for inventory locator

Once I completed the Inventory Locator, tested all its features for bugs, and prepped the tool for its official launch the need for a user guide became apparent. While the tool itself is designed to be operated with minimal user interaction, I knew a written explanation of the behind-the-scenes functions would help the team understand just what each button click entailed.

The breakdown

The twelve-page guide begins with how to download the tool. Because multiple team members could potentially be working in it at the same time the database is housed on a server and each user is asked to enter their name upon opening so changes are not overridden or corrupted.

Once the tool is open a small window appears asking you where you’d like to go, you have the option of going to the Control Panel, Product Lookup Page, or the tracker to update your progress.

After the tool is installed and the needed forum is open I describe the criteria behind each of the buttons. As a user, all that needs to be done is click the button, but behind the scenes, a specific set of criteria queries are conducted to complete the function for that source.

The buttons are in chronological, left-to-right, color coded order.  But one line consists of several queries I built to do all the work.

Line three – Corporate Archives

  1. Yellow Button – Pulls products without a method of acquisition and do not fall into a Material Group of Online, Digital, or Mobile App. When clicked the tool will export results to excel list so that an order can be submitted.
  2. Blue Button – creates an email addressed to the specific archive contact with the standard message request already typed as well as the required ordering number. All the user needs to do is attach the export list from the related yellow button.
  3. Green Button – works with the Material ID table in the center of the page. When you receive a response to one of the Physical locations paste the confirmed the material ID’s into this table and clicked the associated button. Once the button is clicked access first updates the product list for the specific confirmed ID’s, checks the box for located via Corporate Archive, and sets the method of acquisition to Physical, which prevents this product from being requested in later steps.

Inventory Acquisition Completed

Once the inventory process is complete and all available products have been located the tool can generate a shipment invoice and product Product Lists for each individual program when needed.

Final result

With the completed tool, published user guide, and recorded a demo of functionality anyone on the team has access to the instructions and resources they need to either learn a new project or refresh their memory on old process.

After the launch of the tool, we realized there was another way to use this resource: similar to a customer look up anyone company-wide has the option to locate the products they need from our vast, ever growing inventory. If there’s a copy to locate, we know where it is. Whether it’s stored in an office on a shelf, sealed away in a warehouse, or waiting online we have the information and have made it available for anyone to use.

Sadness

Tool Navigation PowerPoint

Using a Phase II Tool

The main project I’ve worked on for the last three years is called Product Genealogy Phase II. In this project, we’re going through every page of every product by the program and verifying the image records. The work is done in an access tool and once a product is complete it must pass our internal Quality Assurance (QA) checks. We check that the image found on the page matches the record in the tool.

I started on this project as the first QA person and over the years the QA team has expanded to seven people, all of whom I’ve trained. When I started this project there was little to no documentation of the process, I was given a verbal introduction and simply asked questions as new issues arose. Over time as I QA’d more and more and brought people onto the team the need for written instruction and formal training became apparent. A project of this scale requires lots of time and much of it is hard to explain before it’s happened because there’s always a new issue we didn’t predict.

The bulk of our project work is completed in Microsoft Access databases. Most people, myself included, start the project with little to no knowledge of how to operate in the databases or find the desired information. Over time I have learned how to navigate in databases, create custom queries, import & export data with Excel, and build tables and relationships.

As part of my self-initiated project to document as many of the Phase II complexities as possible, I made a PowerPoint highlighting basic tips and tricks for using the tools in QA.

Main Page:

The main Genealogy Phase II Forum displays all the base records in the tool. The page is divided into sections which I then highlighted the critical information found in each with a brief description.

Secondary Page:

The second forum shows all the records derived from the bases. Again I highlighted the critical boxes, called out the most common error found from this page, and specifically pointed out that there are three different places the folio (page number) may be located.

Access Tips & Tricks:

In addition to displaying the layout and location of our information, the PowerPoint includes tricks for using access such as:

  • Right-clicking in any field gives you the option to set a customizable filter. You can do a contains or equals to search to find related records or view only the records for one set of pages at a time. 
  • If you apply too many or loose track of which fields are filtered, the orange Filtered button in the bottom right corner of the screen can be clicked and it will remove them all, restoring the page to its default view. Beside this button, you can see how many records fit the criteria and navigate through them using the arrows.
  • From inside a cell using CTRL + F will active a pop-up window to jump to a record.
  • Unlike other Microsoft programs, access automatically saves changes to the data once you’ve clicked out of the cell, and there is no undo feature. Through the nature of our QA, there should be no changes made to the tool as we are only viewing the information. If by accident something is changed or altered simply redownload a copy of the tool from SharePoint.