General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Duplicating work (a bit long) Update #10

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Katana_Geldar:
I work in the library in a private college for international students and its been enrolment week. We've had new management and they have their own ideas of how I work thing and its not going well to say the least.

But we've had to adapt, as we were so far in there was nothing to do but plough on and hope for the best.

I'm only there casual three days a week, but I've Ben there for almost a year and I handle the new students getting ID cards. Normally I check their details on the student database where they have been enrolled. But due to the management, most of them aren't on there. So we assign their borrowers numbers without fully checking.

Yesterday we had the undergrads, so about 100 or so came in to register and I assigned numbers to them. While I was doing that, my boss who sits next to me told me some students entries were coming in on the database, so she started assigning numbers to them not knowing that some of those students had already been in to see us and I had given them numbers. I pointed this out to her, saying that without checking our system (which is more accurate as we get it direct from students) against the database we were essentially were duplicating our work. She said she would stop and then went home.

Today, I saw her using our numbers list to assign to students and I thought nothing of it as we had talked yesterday. Before she left she asked me to check all the students entries in the database to make sure there was no duplication there. I didn't get around to doing it until long after she had left. And what astonished me was that she repeated the mistake from yesterday, and in a big way. About half the students that I had entered yesterday  had two numbers, one that I assigned in our system the day before and one that she had assigned this morning when the entries were coming up.

What she has essentially done is created a lot of work for not myself, but my colleague who covers the days I'm not as all of those entries will need to be changed. It's very tedious work and it will need to be done.

So, I left her a note atop the papers explaining the duplication of work. I'll probably get a call about it Monday. It's not completely her fault, as admin should ave dine their job properly and had the database going, but I am annoyed that this sort of thing could have been prevented had she listened to me.

Any suggestions own how to approach this if I do get asked? I probably will and the girl who is on Mondays and Tuesdays has her own strange way of working and doesn't tell people what she does.

Amara:
Can you suggest a meeting with all the people who work with the numbers in any way and come to an agreement on the best (only) way to do this? If so, perhaps someone can create a document to be sent out after the meeting that details the procedure.

Lynn2000:
I confess I'm not entirely certain what you're asking... Normally you guys do things one way. But then someone else (management) messed up, so you guys were doing things ad hoc on a temporary basis. You noticed your boss was confused and making a mistake, and you pointed it out to her. You thought she understood, but then discovered she'd continued to make the mistake. You and/or another co-worker will be the ones stuck fixing this mistake.

And your question is... how do you explain how this mistake occurred, politely? (That's my guess.) I say, blame it on "the other guys." Management failed to get us the student entries in time, thus we were forced to quickly modify our data entry system. Mistakes were made, which now need to be unmade. It stinks, but that's what they're paying us for.

If it's appropriate for you to send an email to your co-worker(s) about it, I would copy the boss who made the mistake, and detail the scope of the problem and what needs to be done. "Betty, there are 532 duplicate entries in the database. Between you and I we will need to go through each pair of duplicates and merge them." If this is going to be a problem for a while longer, I would also propose steps to take that would prevent this. "In the future, we should be sure to check the database before assigning a student a number, in case the entry from management has come through, or in case the student has already been to see us." Maybe offer to put a post-it note reminder on the computer monitor or something.

Onyx_TKD:

--- Quote from: Katana_Geldar on March 15, 2013, 05:00:23 AM ---I work in the library in a private college for international students and its been enrolment week. We've had new management and they have their own ideas of how I work thing and its not going well to say the least.

But we've had to adapt, as we were so far in there was nothing to do but plough on and hope for the best.

I'm only there casual three days a week, but I've Ben there for almost a year and I handle the new students getting ID cards. Normally I check their details on the student database where they have been enrolled. But due to the management, most of them aren't on there. So we assign their borrowers numbers without fully checking.

[snip]

So, I left her a note atop the papers explaining the duplication of work. I'll probably get a call about it Monday. It's not completely her fault, as admin should ave dine their job properly and had the database going, but I am annoyed that this sort of thing could have been prevented had she listened to me.

Any suggestions own how to approach this if I do get asked? I probably will and the girl who is on Mondays and Tuesdays has her own strange way of working and doesn't tell people what she does.

--- End quote ---

This situation is kind of confusing for me. Could you clarify a few things?
1) Are you assigning numbers for library cards only or are these their main student IDs?
2) What is the normal procedure when everything is added to the database on time? From your description, I assume the sequence is: (i) Students are added to the school database. (ii) Someone at the library manually copies the information from the database to the library system and assigns the student a number. (iii) The student comes in to receive a physical card with that number. Is that correct?
3) Who usually assigns the numbers? You? The boss? Any library employee?
4) Is there an official policy for how to handle students who aren't in the database yet, or are you having to make it up on the fly? When you add a student to the library database, is it obvious if the same student is already in the database? (E.g., will the system flag it as a duplicate?) How do you distinguish between duplicate entries versus two students with the same name?
5) When students started coming in without being in the database, did you discuss the situation with your boss before starting to assign numbers? Or did you first discuss it with her after she started assigning duplicate numbers?

If there is no official policy for handling this situation, then I think you should approach it from the standpoint that one is needed. The current situation is excellent evidence of why one is needed, so that everyone will be on the same page. The procedures need to clearly lay out how you should handle students who aren't yet in the database and how to ensure that students are not assigned a second number once they're added to the main database. However, if this situation isn't covered by policy, then you should be prepared to be told that you should have talked to your boss before you proceeded and for people to critique the way you documented your improvised procedure. If you improvised to handle an uncommon situation, then you share some of the responsibility for your boss/colleagues not knowing what's going on.

If there are conflicting policies, e.g., you are only supposed to assign numbers to students already in the system and you're not supposed to turn away a student asking for an ID card, then point out the conflicting policies and ask your boss to clarify. Get it documented in writing which policy you are supposed to follow in case of conflicts. Again, be prepared to be told that you should have asked before proceeding.

If you were following official policy, then point out that this is happening a lot this term due to the database issues and everyone (including yourself) could use a policy refresher to make sure this goes smoothly.

Katana_Geldar:
The usual procedure is this:

1) Student is added to the school database.
2) Student comes into library to get their ID done and they enter our details into our database, to be approved by us.
3) The student is checked against the school database. They are then assigned a number by us for library purposes.
4) The library then records the students borrowers number on the school database.

Except, it's not working. Admin are either not entering students in to the school database or they aren't coming up when they come in. We aren't sure why.

So, we assign the number for our system and wait for it to come up on the database.

But, my boss has started assigning numbers to new students that are coming up on the library database not knowing that some of them have already been in to see us and have been given a number.

Basically, it's a break in the chain that never happened before: students have not been appearing on the student database.

Also, I'm fairly junior down the line and it's not my place to raise issues with anyone but her. She's just as pissed of about it as I am.

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