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  • Searching Vendors, Invoices, and Funds - Class Materials and Script

Spring 2019 Update

The scripts and training materials in this section were used by Alma peer trainers & facilitators during the active Implementation project phase (April 2018 - June 2019).

These materials are now archived and may contain outdated information/past practice - do not use as-is. This content was last updated August 2018.

For current Alma training, please visit the Learning Alma - for Staff and Managers page.

Handouts and display documents for the class

Handout – Vocab handout (google doc)

Handout – Searching Vendors Handout - 1 pager.docx (word doc)

Display on screen – Searching Vendors practice exercises (word doc)

Display on screen – ALMA vendor form.xlsx (excel doc)

Pre-reading and reference documents for the class

Outline for the class and links to related documentation

Outline of topicsLinks to related documentation
Funds - new vocab, three levels, searching, and what's available for searching and in tabs
Vendors - new vocab, new vendor codes, searching, and what's available in tabs
Invoices - searching, and what's available in tabs

Script for the class


Welcome to Searching Vendors, Invoices and Funds for Selectors and Acquisitions Staff. My name is ..... (and our facilitator/s in this class is/are... ).

In this class, we will review the new financial structure in Alma and practice searching for funds, vendor information, and invoices. You can follow along with me as I demonstrate, or wait until each practice break to try it yourself.

This class builds on what you learned in Search and Sets - has everyone taken that class?

A few notes:

  • Alma went live on July 3rd and, as expected, we're learning new things about it as staff work with real data in the system. Everyone is continuing to learn Alma, and will have the support they need to do so.

  • We are training on the tool of Alma, and while there is usually more than one way to do anything in Alma, we will show you one verified or preferred way to do tasks. Once you've learned the best practice, we encourage staff to discuss local procedures and workflows in your units.

  • We also encourage everyone to come together in Learning Circles - either cross-functional within units or on the same functions across units - to discuss how the implementation is going and how the new features and workflows in Alma might change work at Harvard.

  • Please continue to use the LTS Alma Support form to ask questions and report issues with Alma data, workflows, or roles & permissions. Asking these questions, and working groups providing answers, is an important part of everyone learning more about Alma. You can find the link in the Notifications widget in Alma, along with the link to Alma documentation on the LTS wiki.

  • You have a 1-page handout that contains a link to the Alma sandbox, the wiki page for this class, and a few other useful links. (If there are other handouts, describe them.) The script and all materials for this class are available to review on the wiki, and will continue to be updated with any changes in procedures.

Some quick logistics information: 

    • The nearest bathrooms & water supply are:
      • Lamont rooms: Restrooms are gendered by floor. Lamont 310 is on a men's room floor, Lamont B-30 is on a women's room floor.
      • 90 Mt Auburn: Two restrooms are on the opposite side of the building on the basement level, water is in the kitchenette and in a fountain by the restrooms
      • 625 Mass Ave: Restrooms are at the opposite end of the building on the 3rd floor, by the water fountain
    • Please ask questions when they come up; I will also pause between sections for questions and to make sure things are clear.

Let's start by introducing ourselves. (Go around the room and ask everyone to share their name, library/unit, and primary role(s).)


Class overview

Today we will cover Funds, then Vendors, then invoices.

  • I will show you how to search for and find information about each of these topics; after each section we'll take a break so you can practice what I demonstrated.

Acquisitions Practice in the Sandbox:

Only order/receive/create invoices for materials from one of these locations when working in the Sandbox:

    • ITS at 625
    • Lamont
    • Schlesinger
    • Widener

Pick the location that is most similar in structure to your regular work location.  There are three kinds of Purchase Order Line (POL) Owner relationships:

    • One POL Owner for one library collection (e.g., Schlesinger)
    • Many POL Owners for one library collection (e.g., Wid Judaica, Wid Middle East, Wid Modern Greek to the Widener collection)
    • One consolidated order department : many library collections (e.g., ITS at 625 --> WID, FAL, LAM, DIV, DES, etc.)

Use the following vendor codes to practice with One-Time and Continuous orders. They have been configured so that the POs will not end up In Review. You should be able to use any vendor account within these vendor codes:

    • COUTTS
    • YANKEE



Let's begin with funds.

Vocabulary notes:

  • Alma uses the term Funds instead of budgets, and the term Code includes what we have called the "string" or portions of the string (tub, org)
  • Alma divides funds up into three levels:  Ledgers, Summary funds, and Allocated funds.

TRAINER: Write this chart on a whiteboard while explaining or show Ledger-summary-allocated-examples.docx on screen.

LedgerHLS^Harv Law School-Ledger265FHCL^Harv Coll Library-Ledger 415
Parent Summary Funds

HLS^Intl+Comparative Law ACQ - Parent Summary

265.551866FHCL^Sciences  - Parent Summary415.3611
Child Summary FundsHLS^Intl+Comparative Law ACQ - Child Summary (actvity.subactivity)265.551866.0000

FHCL^Cabot - Collections - Child Summary (org)

Allocated FundsHLS Law School Lib Fund (1898) ACQ265.22044..449878.551861.0000.00000              Unrestricted Undesignated - Cabot Monographs 415.36130..000001.651123.0000.00000 


  • The top, highest level is the Ledger.  Harvard has created ledgers for each Tub in the Chart of Accounts.
  • The middle level is Summary funds.
    • All ledgers will have at least one parent summary fund with at least one child summary fund.  Many ledgers will have multiple parent summary funds with multiple child summary funds.
    • Summary funds are new; Aleph didn't have these. You can roll a group of funds together into a summary – they are for reporting purposes.
  • The bottom or third level are Allocated funds.
    • These have money associated with them, and will be used for purchases.

Finding and Viewing Fund Records

You can find and view fund records in several ways:

  • From the main menu, go to Acquisitions > Acquistions Infrastructure > Funds and Ledgers

  • Use the persistent search bar to search for a specific fund or to find all funds
    • Choose Funds as the search type from the first drop-down
    • Choose the criteria for a specific or targeted search and type in your search term (fund code, fund name, etc.)
    • You can also choose search type Funds and leave the search term box empty to return a list of all funds

TRAINER: Conduct this last search (Funds, All) to get the list of all funds.

Notice that all of these searches default to 2 parameters or filters: Current FY and Active funds, because that's what people are often looking for. You can see all available fiscal years (back to 2002) by disabling these filters: click on the x inside the circle next to the parameter.

Also notice that if you have the permissions to view funds, you can see all Harvard funds and your location does not impact what you see. However, your permissions may affect what funds you are permitted to use or manage.


The Fund Record

Clicking on the fund name allows you to view (not edit) the fund information. You could also choose View from the row action list at the right side of each results row.

Let's click on a Ledger fund.

This is a standard layout for a page in Alma:

  • Brief description at the top 
  • Tabs beneath the description – dog-eared tabs means they have content. We'll come back to these tabs in a moment.
  • If you scroll down, you will see some built-in reports.
    • Different roles have different permissions for reports that can be displayed here.
    • These reports pull from Alma's built-in Analytics module. You can click on the link to open the report in a separate tab or window.

Back to the tabs:

  • Summary: this is a summary of information about this fund and contains the details, reports, and rules for the fund
  • Funds: view the Summary and Allocated funds associated with this ledger
  • Notes: lists any internal notes on the use or restrictions for that fund
  • Attachments: contains any attached files related to that fund


Now, let's look at a Summary fund. From the Funds tab on the ledger record, click on the filter to limit the list to Summary funds, then click on the name of a fund to view the record.

Summary fund records look and work in the same way as ledger fund records, with the same four tabs and similar information. Two things to note:

  • On the Summary tab, there is a section for the Path of the fund. Below the ledger level, you can see the breadcrumbs for every fund in a hierarchy and click on any of them to view that fund record.
  • On the Funds tab, you'll see a list of any child Summary Funds and any Allocated funds attached to this Summary fund.


Finally, let's look at an Allocated fund. Click on the Funds tab and select an allocated fund to view.

Again, there's a summary at the top and reports below, but where the Funds tab was, you'll now see a Transactions tab. From the allocated fund page, you can view every transaction posted to that fund.

From any transaction, you can click on Invoice Line # or PO Line # to view that invoice or order.


Using Wildcards in Funds Searches

You can use the asterisk ( * ) wildcard to search for related funds. Unlike using the wildcard in materials searches, you can put it at the beginning or end of your search string.

  • If you start with the ledger (tub), you can insert a * at the end: 415.37880*
  • If you just want to search a middle section of the fund code, put asterisks on both sides: *565155*



Practice time!

 Let's try searching for and looking at information about funds.

TRAINER: Use practice instructions on screen if necessary.

When you're ready to move on to Vendors, ask: Are there any more questions about funds?



Let's move on to Vendors.

You can find and view Vendor records in the same two ways that you did for Funds:

  • From the main menu, choose Acquisitions > Acquisition Infrastructure > Vendors

  • Use the persistent search bar and choose the search type Vendors, then search for specific vendors or leave the search term box empty to see a list of all vendors.

Again, for both of these methods, your results will default to Active vendors. To see inactive vendors, choose All or Inactive from the Vendor Status drop-down filter.

You can also use the Vendor Type filter to view just one type of vendor:

  • Material Supplier
  • Access Provider (e-Resources)
  • Licensor (e-Resources)
  • Governmental
  • SUSHI Vendor (e-Resources)

Vendor Codes

Some vendor codes have changed as part of migration. Until you're familiar with any changed codes, you may want to search by Vendor Name or use the filters to find the vendor you want, rather than the code.

One set of changes is related to Dataloads:

  • First, the ability to EDI order is now set up library-wide. If a vendor has a code in Alma that ends with EDI, it means they are set up to send orders out of Alma via EDI library-wide.There are 6 vendors set up for this:
    • CASALI-EDI (Casalini)
    • ERASMUS-EDI (Erasmus in Amsterdam)
    • ERASMUSFR-EDI (Erasmus in Paris)
    • EBC-EDI (Eastern Book Company)
    • HRSW-EDI (Harrasowitz)
  • Note: This does not impact EDI invoices, which are coming in to Alma – those can be configured for many vendors, but that will not lead to them having the -EDI added to their vendor codes. The -EDI only appears with vendor codes that will send EDI orders out of Alma.

Other vendor code changes were made as part of the data cleanup during migration to Alma.


Vendor Structure

In Aleph, we had a Master Vendor record, and then local vendor records.

In Alma, there is a Vendor Code, and Vendor Account Code.

  • The vendor account code is linked to a specific account with the vendor, as well as a specific bill to/ship to address. You will need to select the appropriate Vendor Account Codes when placing orders.


  • For newly created or updated unit-based vendor accounts, a convention was developed: use as much of the following as necessary to make the code unique: the library code, type of order, and account number.



    • Example: LAW-OT-34223 would be the code for Law Library - One-Time orders - 34223 (the account number for monograph orders with the vendor).





  • The vendor account record sets a default claim period for an order. You can override this default when placing an order (covered in One-Time orders 1).




In Aleph

In Alma

“High” or “Master” level

Master vendor record


Name: Casalini

Vendor Record


Name: Casalini

Individual Account level

Local vendor record

Code: FAL01

Name: Fine Arts (Monographs)

Vendor Account Record

Code: FAL-OT-123455

Name: Fine Arts Monographs Acct. #123455

For your reference, here is how the vendor account will appear on an order emailed out to a vendor: 


Let's look up a specific vendor and review the information available. We'll use Casalini Libri as an example.

From the persistent search bar, choose Vendors as the search type, Name as the criteria, and type in Casalini.

Go to the row action item list and choose View.

There are many more tabs on a vendor record than a fund record:

  • Summary: general information about that vendor, including a list of all of the vendor account codes attached to the vendor record
  • Contact Information and Contact People: general contact information and any specific contacts or representatives at the vendor
  • Invoices: all invoices for that vendor; your location and permissions will not limit the invoices you see in this list
  • PO Lines: all PO Lines associated with that vendor, across the library. Use the facets to limit the list, or the "search within this list" box (using a wide variety of criteria) to find specific orders.
  • Communication: general messages sent to the vendor originating in Alma, including who sent it; some permissions levels can view the message, start a new communication, etc.
    • A best practice suggestion from the Acq/Serials Working Group: if you need to contact vendor about an order, do that on the Communication tab associated with that specific order (POL), not on the vendor record.

Other tabs:


  • Analytics: analyses of vendor performance metrics
  • Usage Data: this shows SUSHI (Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative protocol) data for E-Res (TRAINER: if you look up the vendor Springer you can see content here)
  • Notes: Any notes about the vendor or who can use it
  • Attachments: this can be used for storage of documents, PDFs, excel lists, etc associated with the vendor.

Practice time!

  Let's try searching for and finding out information about vendors.


TRAINER: Use practice instructions on screen if necessary.


When you're ready to move on to invoices, ask: Are there any more questions about vendors?



Unlike Vendors and Funds, there is no way to look up Invoices via the main menu. You have to use the persistent search bar.

Note that we are looking up the invoice number independent of a vendor code, so you'll see invoices from any vendors who have used the same number.

  • Select the search type Invoice, then choose the criteria you want to search by. Choose Invoice Number for this example.
  • Unlike Funds or Vendors, you cannot leave the search term box blank for invoices. You must fill in a search term.
  • Let's search for any invoice whose invoice number includes "2018." Type that number into the search term box.

If we click on an invoice in the results list, we see a very familiar layout:

  • Summary: details about the invoice, including payment information
  • Alerts: any automatic alerts on the invoice that may affect its approval
  • Invoice lines: all lines on that invoice, including purchase order lines, shipping lines, additional fees, etc.
    • From this tab, you can click on a fund name to view the Transactions tab for that fund, and you've come full circle to the records we reviewed at the beginning of today's class!
    • If you do click through to the fund, you can see the full fund code at the top of the record and the full path on the Summary tab for that allocated fund.
  • History: a history of any changes to that invoice
  • Notes: notes about that invoice
  • Attachments: any attached files (scans of a paper invoice, etc.)


Practice time!

  Let's practice searching for invoices.


TRAINER: Use practice instructions on screen if necessary.


When you're ready to end the class, ask: Are there any more questions about invoices?



Please note that in the Acquisitions documentation, there is an Acquisitions-focused document for reference (TRAINER, display if time permits: Acquisitions-Focused Navigation and Customization)

There is also an updated Alma vendor setup form (Excel doc) being developed. (TRAINER: Display this document using the link at the top of this page, if time permits.)


Thank you for attending today's class.

In the next day or two, you'll receive an email that includes an evaluation for this class. Please take a few moments to fill it out - your feedback will help us improve this class and will help me improve my training skills. 

If you have any questions, use the LTS Alma Support form in the Notifications widget to submit them.

Is everyone signed up for the next class in their sequence, or would you like more information about that class? 



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