To do their tasks safely and satisfactorily, users need clear instructions.
This case study compares an original text that a customer supplied to us with a new version that we created. (For this case study, we changed some words in our text.)
Our analysis of the users' tasks showed that:
- Two or more users are involved in the process (data entry personnel at Head Office, and shop personnel). The users are at different locations. Sometimes, more than one manager is involved in the process.
- The processes for only one shop and for a multi-shop environment are different.
- Two methods of stocktaking are possible. One method is manual. The other method is semi-automated using barcode scanners.
The original text has these errors:
- There is a mixture of processes, procedures, and facts.
- Process. A description of a system. What occurs, and how the system operates.
- Procedure. A numbered list of steps that a person does to complete a task.
- Fact. Information, data.
- There is no explanation of how to do each step. Sometimes, an explanation is not necessary, but in this case, users need more help.
- The order of some of the steps is not correct.
Customer's original text
- Start the stocktake, use the sheets and tick against an item each time one is located.
- Shop staff to add up the ticks against each item and write the total on the sheet.
- Stock transfers - items transferred out of a branch after a stocktake is started need to be counted at the SENDING branch.
- It is recommended that you stocktake a section at a time, remember that any sales need to be counted. It is a good idea to mark each ticket with a colour so that as sales are made it is easy to identify whether or not that item has been counted. Also at any time during or after the stocktake, if any items that are found without a mark, it is easy to see if the item has been counted.
- Items without tickets - try to find on the report. If the item is listed tick the report in a different colour pen and hand write a stock ticket for the item.
- Unidentified items without tickets that cannot be found on the report. Write on a separate sheet with the first 4 digits of the stock number (Dept. & Sub-Dept), description, price, cost, supplier and supplier reference. Also hand write a stock ticket with the first 4 digits and put aside to be correctly ticketed at a later stage.
- Items that are on deposit must be counted as in stock.
- The deposit report available from the till should be checked against the outstanding deposits and corrections made as required. The corrected deposit reports should also be checked against the Head Office system.
- Freeze the stocktake file.
- Take a normal daily backup.
- Continue all processing as normal including sales and stock distribution.
- Continue updating new stock (purchases) as normal, although it is recommended that this stock is held until after the stocktake is complete and discrepancies checked, in order to minimize confusion.
- Enter stocktake figures from each location into the head office system via the stocktake routine.
- Miscellaneous items listed by shops as unidentified. Add items and issue stock numbers as normal, except set quantity to 0. Write the new stock number on the hand written list and return to the shops for ticketing. (Use selective Ticketing to print tickets). Include these items in the stocktake.
- Discrepancy reports can now be printed and sent to the branches for management to investigate and report back.
- Missing items and corrections can be made prior to finalising the stocktake figure.
- Once you are happy that all outstanding discrepancies are valid, update the stocktake figures and produce a final stock valuation.
The Stock Take is now complete.
Our new text clearly shows the procedures that users must do:
- The tasks for different users are separate.
- Prerequisite information is first.
- If the order is important, steps are numbered. If the order is not important, steps are bulleted.
- If applicable, users are told about other sections that give more information.
Stocktaking at Head Office
[In practice, other information about the stocktaking process is here.]
To stocktake when there are many shops
- Enter and update all sales, purchase invoices and distributions to the night before the start of the physical counting of stock. See page x.
- Freeze the stocktake file using
STKFRZ (page x). Typically, do this one or two days after the physical counting starts.
- Do a daily backup (page x).
- Use the computer system as normal. Process all sales and purchases of new stock. However, to prevent possible confusion, we recommend that new stock is not put into the shops until after the stocktake is complete.
- When the Stock Check Report or the scanners are returned from the shop, process the stocktaking results (next procedure).
To process the stocktaking results
- When the shop returns the Stock Check Report or the scanners, enter the results from the Stock Check Reports and then print a Discrepancy Report using
DSCREP (page x).
- Send the Discrepancy Report to management. Management will investigate, and then send the report back to you.
- When the report is returned, do one of these:
- Make all corrections using
STKCRR (page x) according to the instructions you receive from management. For each branch for which you made corrections, print another Discrepancy Report, and return it to the branch. Repeat as necessary.
- After management is happy that all outstanding discrepancies are valid, update the stocktake figures and produce a final stock valuation using
STKFIN (page x).
- The stocktake is now complete.
Stocktaking at Each Shop
We recommend that you:
- Stocktake one Department at a time or one counter at a time.
- Mark each ticket with a coloured pen so that when a sale is made, it is easy to identify whether that stock item was counted. Additionally, at any time during or after the stocktake, if a stock item is found without a mark, it is easy to see that the stock item was not counted.
To count stock manually at a shop
- When you receive the Stock Check Report (page x) from Head Office, you can begin the stocktake.
- Identify each stock item in the shop and put a tick next to the applicable entry on the Stock Check Report. Note the following:
- All sales that are made after the stocktake started must be counted as in stock.
- Stock items that are on deposit must be counted as in stock.
- Stock items that are transferred out of the branch after the stocktake started must be counted as in stock at the branch.
- If a stock item does not have a ticket, and if the stock item is shown on the Stock Check Report, tick the entry in a different coloured pen and write a ticket for the stock item.
- If the stock item is not listed on the Stock Check Report, then:
- On a separate sheet of paper, write the first 4 digits of the Stock Number (Department and Sub-Department), and as much information as you have for the description, price, cost, supplier and supplier reference. Possibly, you can find this information from brochures. If the stock item has a display label, you can find the price from the display label.
- Write a stock ticket with the first 4 digits of the Stock Number, attach it to the stock item, and put the stock item aside, so that it can be correctly ticketed later.
- Add up the ticks for each stock item and write the total on the Stock Check Report.
- Compare the deposit report that is available from the till with the outstanding deposits, and make corrections if applicable. Liaise with Head Office staff to verify the corrected deposit reports against the Head Office system.
- Send the completed Stock Check Report back to Head Office.