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.


The Cheat Sheet

training documentation

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.

How I improved the project:

To combat this sense of unknown, in addition to the lengthy, fully detailed process instructions for each component of the project I also wrote a cheat sheet to aid new team members with the process, key points, and general guidelines. The two-page document is easy to read, small enough to either print out and keep beside your computer or simply leave up on the second screen for reference as you work. In the cheat sheet, there are four main sections each with several bulleted points beneath for elaboration.

I broke down the different types of image records that could be found and listed the required components of each (example, something taken in-house should not have a third party credit or the latter).

I listed the four primary things the QA team should be checking for:

  1. The records in the tool are accurate representations of what’s found on the page.
  2. The records are assigned to the proper folio, and before a folio is marked as incorrect all three folio fields are checked.
  3. There is exactly one record for every image, no more, no less.
  4. Consistency. If a seemingly simple graphic has a record for one page, it should have a record for all pages it’s found on.

I explained each of the columns in our QA report and when they are applicable to fill in as well as broke down the process of checking the products. We examine every 3-5 pages unless there are a high number of errors. If the passing percentage falls below 60% halt QA and return the product for rework. The QA report I designed automatically calculates the passing percentage based on the number of passes vs. fails in the report.

I included four practical tips for viewing information in the access tools as most people are not immediately familiar with the sometimes complex functions and formats. As access is typically the steepest learning curve for new team members I created a PowerPoint further describing how to navigate in the tools.

  1. The Genealogy Phase II tab shows information from all the base records. The top box lists all the product details and the Spec AutoID
  2. When you’re QA’ing the Spec Details box will show the description, the page number, and the spec type. If the AssesUsed box is not checked the image should not be on the page, sometimes you’ll see duplicate specs but only one of them will have the AssestUsed box checked – that’s ok.
  3. The Asset Details box here you’ll see the Source File number, Rights Type and credit.
  4. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see four tabs, the Base Spec Verification tab will show the status of the spec. Descriptions of the different status’s are written out in the box to the right.

And finally, in the cheat sheet, I collected links to each of our internal SharePoint sites that are either used for tracking purposes, housing digital products, the location of the new tools, and the training site where all the lengthy process instructions are available. I listed the links and explained what can be found at each of them so new members can easily find further instruction, new assignments, and fresh copies of the tool as needed.