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These materials are now archived and may contain outdated information/past practice - do not use as-is.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 February 2019.
For current Alma training, please visit the Learning Alma - for Staff and Managers page.
Required Classes: Alma Overviews, 1- and 2-level classes in Fulfillment, One-Time Orders, and/or Continuous Orders
In the sandbox, you have the same roles, permissions, and location options as you did in Production as of September 1, 2018. Please read through this script and find or create examples that match your location, permissions, and the people you are training as closely as possible. Trainer directions are in green, like this text.
Today, we'll review Work Orders in Alma and how they are being used at Harvard. We'll discuss key concepts; step through the basics of initiating, managing, completing, and troubleshooting work orders; and mention a few notes. There'll be time for questions and practice throughout the class, and again at the end.
First, a few reminders:
Some quick logistics information:
Let's start by introducing ourselves. (Go around the room and ask everyone to share their name, library/unit, and how this class relates to their work.)
Now, if you haven't already, please log in to Alma. After you log in, you can follow along or watch until it's time to practice.
We're going to begin by talking about the key concepts and basic steps of work orders.
TRAINER: Display Map
Let's look at the map handout to talk about the parts of a work order.
The Work Order Type or Process Type indicates the type of library process to be carried out on an item. It's like the transit system in our analogy.
Harvard currently has seven Work Order Types:
Note that we've included Circulation on this map. It's not a Work Order - it's an automated workflow - but it uses similar terminology and also tracks where physical items are (on Loan to a patron, in transit from one location to another, etc.).
The Work Order Statuses are the phases or steps within a Work Order Type. They’re our stops or stations along the line, and items move from status to status until all the work is completed. Some work orders use statuses to track different phases of work, some to identify specific work an item needs, and some just to 'check in' the item to that department.
Work Order Departments or Managing Departments are the physical locations where the work occurs, like neighborhoods in our transit analogy. Each work order type (or transit system) has different lines, but similar stops along the route.
TRAINER: Display Sandbox, with your Currently At set to a Tech Services location
So, that's what Work Orders are. Now, let's look at how they work.
There are four basic steps to any work order:
The details vary from Work Order type to type, and you can stack up a sequence of work orders, but this is the general process. Let's go through a few examples.
TRAINER: You can either just choose an example from any item on your unit's receiving list, or you can create an order ahead of time to receive. Remember that this is the Sandbox, so you can receive any item without affecting the real records.
One area that uses work orders is Acquisitions, during the Receiving process. Here, work orders are used to move items out of an automated workflow and into a staff-initiated work process.
The difference between workflows and work orders is that with workflows, Alma automatically changes or updates details as the process moves along. When an item is ordered, for instance, it's given the process type of "Acquisition" by the system. When it's received, that process type will change automatically to Transit (to the owning library) unless someone decides that it needs more work. At that point, they can move it from the automated workflow and into a staff-initiated Work Order, by choosing "Keep in Department."
Let's go through the receiving process to see how this works:
Now, let's do a quick search to see what this did. Choose a Physical Items search, and search by the title. Find the item in the list of results and see that the Process type (our transit line) says Technical Services Work Order and the first stop in parentheses. You can also see the Managing Department from here.
A note: As soon as someone in a receiving department receives the item, only staff in the same department will be able to change the status of the Work Order or mark it as Done. (aka, only people working on that *line* can assign and change the specific *stops* it goes to).
TRAINER: Set location to a Circulation Desk. Have a barcode for an item on loan ready to return. (Check an item out to yourself in the sandbox if needed.)
Now, let’s try another common situation. Let’s imagine that a patron returns an item to a Circulation desk that is clearly in need of repair. Once the appropriate person at the desk decides that the item should be sent to Collections Care, they can initiate a Work Order for that item from the Returned Items list.
So, what if there had been a patron request for the item?
Until late October, the work order documentation online said that if you place a Work Order request, it would take priority over patron requests. The Ex Libris documentation says the same thing. However, this is actually a configurable setting, and Harvard has chosen to make work order requests the same as patron requests. (Jennifer, they are not exactly the same – because patron requests will issue a recall notice, work orders will not...Maybe just say "the system has been configured to fulfill requests in the order they appear, with patron requests generating "due date change" notices or recalls, and work orders not".) If there is a patron request on the item, you can place the item in transit to fill that request and then place a work order request; once the patron returns the item, it will go to the Managing Department and get the work done.
If there is more than one request, then the work order request will be filled whenever it is the next request in the queue.
You can - with extreme judgement - force the work order request higher in the queue, if the work is important enough. However, this will not recall an item from being on Loan - the patron still needs to return the item before the work order request will take effect.
If you have the item in hand and you want to initiate a work order for your own department, it's very straightforward and uses a new screen: Scan In Items. Scan in items functions similarly to how the Receiving list functions – Alma detects your type and your managing department from your Currently At location, and lets you select a specific work order status. If you're in a Work Order Department, you'll use this same screen to move items along the work order (along the stops on the line).
Only use Scan In Items for an item you have in hand.
Scan In Items is useful because it lets you select or update the specific status for an item, and because it will discharge any Loans on the item at the same time (these might be Loans to pseudopatrons or to real patrons, if they weren't discharged properly at the Circ desk). Note that the opposite isn't true: Returning an item at a Circ desk will not clear a work order; the work order must be marked Done by the Managing Department to be completed.
To use Scan In Items:
Let's say I do my work to the item and need to move it on to another area in my department. I hand it to them, and they go to Scan In Items, and repeat the process for their area.
TRAINER: Repeat steps for another status in the same department, such as "Unknown Substance" for Collections Care.
While we're on Scan In Items, let's quickly see how to mark a work order as Done.
When all the work on the item in that department is complete and the item is ready to go back to its home library:
The item will now be put In Transit until it is scanned in by the Circ Desk of the home library. Send it back to the library according to local process.
Jennifer, the Scan in Items screen at Circ desks looks different than the one for Tech Services or Preservation – including that it does not have an option to "Done" things. Mention/show/explain this?
So far, we've looked at initiating or managing work orders when you have the item in hand. You can also initiate a work order for an item that's still on the shelf, or in the middle of some other process. You might be sending items to be digitized, or to be re-cataloged, assembled into a box, or some other process.
If you have just a few items, it makes sense to initiate the work orders yourself. If you have many items, you can contact LTS Support for suggestions on more efficient ways to do this using sets.
Let's step through this process, beginning with a Physical Items search:
Notice that once we choose Work Order, it's the same process as the staff at a Circulation Desk see.
Because we indicated that item needs to be pulled from the shelf, it will appear on the pick-list for the home library and retrieved like any other request. When it's scanned in by Circ staff, the system will mark it as In Transit to the Managing Department you selected.
Use the Physical Item Editor
There is one more way to initiate or update a work order using the Physical Item Editor to change the process type and department. However, with this method you cannot assign a Status (which may affect your Analytics) and it bypasses the transit steps. It's recommended to use any of the other methods we've covered, but this way will work.
I'm not going to save the item this time, so I don't have to fix this later.
Practice Time! Let's practice initiating a work order, moving an item along the process, or marking the work order as Done. Use the search on your example handout to find a barcode, then choose the initiation sequence relevant to your work - as part of Receiving, from the Circulation Desk, or by a search. Initiate the work order, move it from one status to another, and/or mark it as Done. If you have any questions, please ask me.
TRAINER: Leave about 10 minutes for this practice and questions.
Okay, now that we've practiced the basic processes, let's look at some troubleshooting and how to monitor work orders. We'll start with troubleshooting.
If you create a work order by accident…
…and the item is in hand and belongs to your unit:
…and the item was requested from another non-Remote Storage location but it hasn’t been acted on yet, you can just click on the Cancel button to cancel the work order and request.
Jennifer, I think it would also be ok to click cancel if the work order is not the next request in queue (if it's further down in the queue, so it's not possible that any action would have been taken on it yet – does that sound right?
…and the item was requested from another location or Remote Storage and the Workflow Step is Transit Item:
…and the item was requested from a Remote Storage location:
If you mark a Work Order as Done prematurely, set your location to the Work Order Department and use the Scan In Items screen to set a status, then scan in the item. Because you’re in the department for which you need the work order initiated, this will just start a new work order for the right place.
Use this same method if you are in Technical Services, have Received a new item and forgot to check Keep in Department.
If an item is in a work order for one Department and another Managing department of the same Work Order Type scans it in, the original work order is automatically transferred from the original department to the department that scans in the item.
Example: An item is in the Judaica Tech Services Department. A staff member at ITS 625 Tech Services scans in the item. The Judaica work order is transferred to ITS. This can be done on purpose to move items from one Tech Services department to another; if it is done accidentally, scanning the item back in at Judaica will transfer the work order back again.
If an item has had all its work completed in your department and you need to send it on to work in another Managing Department:
Example: An item is already in a Collections Care work order process, and you determine that it also needs updated cataloging. You can look up the item using a Physical Items search, select Work Order from the row action item list, and initiate a Technical Services work order straight to Cataloging. Once the Collections Care work is done, it will be sent for that cataloging, and then returned to the shelf or sent to fulfill a patron request.
Sometimes, staff at a Circulation Desk or are Access Service receive a group of new items for shelving that all display alerts that they need to be returned to ITS or a Technical Services department. If this happens, they may not have been properly marked as Done during the receiving process. Circulation staff cannot mark the work order for these items as Done, because they are not in the proper work order department.
If this happens, Access Services staff can reach out to a Technical Services/ITS contact and email the list of affected barcodes to be marked Done.
Next, let's look at how you manage work orders, starting with individual items, then items in your department, then requests for all units.
Trainer: the Interacting with Work Orders options chart can be used for reference during this section
If you want to see a quick snapshot of an item’s current details, search for it using a Physical Items search. You’ll see what status the item is in, Requests on that item (including work order requests), and more. Reminder: only use Scan In Items for an item in hand, so you don't accidentally discharge a Loan.
If you want more details, click on Edit Item or on the barcode to get to the Physical Item Editor. Whether your permissions allow you to actually edit that item doesn't matter: you can view the Item History and see all item changes, holdings changes, and Fulfillment activities (loans and returns). This history includes the Operator identifier, so you can see who the last staff person to touch an item was.
Jennifer, we're discovering that if someone just scans in an item to move it to another stop within the same line, without making some changes to the item/holdings/bib, they are not showing up in the item history at all....Honor has been testing this.
To manage items that are at your department, use the Manage In Process Items function. You can get to this option from the Fulfillment menu (Manage In Process Items) and the Acquisitions menu (Receiving Department Items). These two menu choices will both take you to the same list.
If you have initiated a work order for many items, you can monitor the process of those items in the Resource Request Monitoring list. This list is library-wide, so it will be quite large and must be limited.
From this list, you can get a snapshot of what items are at what points in their processing, or you can choose from any of the actions in the row action item list:
If you want to, you can always Export the results of your list to an Excel file for further review.
Practice Time! Take a moment to check on the work orders you initiated earlier using a Physical Items search, Manage In Process Items, or Resource Request Monitoring.
|Functional Area||Use the Row Action Items List (Ellipsis icon)|
– item not in hand –
|Use Scan In Items Screen|
– item in hand –
Return Items - Circ staff notice item needs repair or other work, initiate work order from returned list to send item to Collections Care/Tech Services
Borrow Direct/ILL/Single Copy Project - Use Physical Items search and initiate work order from results/item record to have item sent to your department
Borrow Direct/ILL - Item is in hand and you need to scan it in to your department
Borrow Direct/ILL/Single Copy Project - Item is in hand and you need to initiate a work order
All - Item is in hand and work order needs to be marked Done
Imaging Services - Use Physical Items search and initiate work order from results/item record to have item sent to your department
Collections Care/Weissman Preservation - Use Physical Items search and initiate work order from results/item record to have item sent to your department
Imaging Services/Collections Care - Item is in hand and you need to scan it in to your department or send it to the next work area
Weissman Preservation - Item is in hand and you need to scan it in to your department
All - Item is in hand and work order needs to be marked Done
|Technical Services||Use Physical Items search to request delivery of an item from another location for cataloging cleanup work, and title needs to be pulled from the shelf|
Item is being received and needs additional work ("Keep in Department" option)
Item is in hand and you need to scan it in to your department, or to send it to the next work area
Anyone can use either a Physical Items search or the Resource Request Monitoring options to check on the status of a work order. Staff in a Managing Department can use Manage In Process Items to review all items in their department.
Marking a work order as Done is always the safest way to complete or clear a work order and send the item on to its next destination.
Work orders are cross-functional tools, and look a little different in each area, but the basic process is the same:
Today, we’ve gone through the steps of work orders, discussed what they are and how they work, learned basic troubleshooting, and how to monitor and manage work orders.
Once again, if you have any questions about Alma, please use the LTS Support Question Form in the Notifications widget to send them to the Support team. This will get your question answered and will add to the LTS Support knowledgebase about Alma. You can also look up the Work Order sections on the LTS wiki for details and reference lists.
Any last questions?
Thank you for coming. After today, you’ll receive an email with a link to an evaluation form. Please take a few minutes to fill it out; your feedback will be invaluable in helping the Training Working Group refine these trainings for the remainder of these early sessions and for the long-term training to come.
TRAINER: Use these details to answer specific questions, or go through them if you have time after everything else is covered.
There are a number of additional bits of information that will help you as you work with work orders:
Every Work Order Department is configured with a number of days for which the item is expected to be in that department after it arrives and is scanned in. The number of days is used to calculate the “Expiration Date” that appears on the Monitor Requests and Item Processing page.
This date does not display to patrons, though that is a configuration choice by Harvard and it is possible to display it.
If you want to adjust the number of days for your department, contact LTS using the Alma Support Form. (Jmg: is there somewhere we can see the list of days in dept settings? JK: Still looking.)
If you are in a Technical Services unit but also have Circ Desk permissions, do not set your location to the Circ Desk when handling any work order-related steps. You should only set your location as a Technical Services Circ Desk when you are either charging or returning personal requests to staff.
When moving materials from a Technical Services work order to a patron loan, you must mark the work order as Done first. This will automatically
When a patron returns something that was on loan and you want to initiate a work order, you do NOT have to return it first. As mentioned earlier, if you use Scan In Items, you will simultaneously clear the patron loan and scan the item in to your department for the work order.
As we've seen a few times, there are overlaps in terminology between Fulfillment and Work Order terminology.
In specific, when you're looking at an item record, you'll see a Status (item in place or not in place) and if the item is not in place, it will have a process type of on Loan or something else. A work order process type (Work Order type) is one of those other process types. For more on this, see the Item Statuses, Process Types, and Required fields page in the LTS wiki, under Items & Holdings.
Work orders can be useful for special projects such as relocations or scanning for digitization. Contact LTS to discuss options.
When an item is in a work order process, a patron will see the Work Order Type but not the status. So, they will see that the item is in a Preservation Work Order but not where it is in that process.
Patrons can request items while they are in work orders. Once the work order is marked Done, the item will go in transit to fill the patron request.
Items on loan to a pesudopatron in Aleph migrated as on loan to the pseudopatron in Alma. Once all the items on a loan to any pseudopatron are processed, and all hold requests made by the pseudopatron are processed, the pseudopatron record will be deleted.
New pseudopatrons cannot be created in Alma, and new loans/requests cannot be made for migrated pseudopatrons.
To initiate a work order for an item that is on loan to a pseduopatron, use the Scan In Items function and set the correct status. Scan in the item to initiate a work order and automatically discharge the Loan.