Friday, May 11, 2007

Sirsi Workflows performance issues

To all current and future Sirsi Workflows users:

Several staff members who have attended system training on Workflows have noticed a marked difference in how the software performs on the PCs in their agencies compared to those in the Computer Training Room. Specifically, the software can take a long time to fully load when first opened (as long as 10 minutes), and then performs slowly afterwards.

Why is Workflows so slow? The simple truth is that Workflows demands more memory than most of our staff PCs have available. SirsiDynix has been actively developing Unicorn and Workflows over the course of our 18-month ILS migration project, and the requirements for desktop PCs to run the software have become more stringent. Currently, SirsiDynix recommends a minimum of 512 megabytes of RAM (random access memory) for PCs running Workflows. The majority of our staff PCs have 128 MB (256 MB in some cases). This includes the "newer" PCs that some agencies have received in the last few months in conjunction with the Gates public PC replacement project and the Workflows rollout. (The new Gates PCs do have 512 MB of RAM, but by the terms of the Gates Foundation grant, those PCs are designated for public use.)

Upgrading the memory on staff PCs will be a priority for the Library in the coming fiscal year. In the meantime, here are steps you can take to make Workflows perform as well as possible in your agencies:
  • Allow adequate time for Workflows to load before you need to use it. (For public service agencies, this may require some adjustment of your opening procedures prior to Go Live.)
  • Do not have other programs (Internet Explorer, Outlook, Word, etc.) running while you are opening and logging in to Workflows.
  • To the extent possible, try not to have other programs running during the day on PCs running Workflows. Every program has its own memory requirements, and memory being used by Word or Outlook means less memory available for Workflows, causing the program to run slower. (Information staff who need to use both Workflows and Internet Explorer to answer customers' questions may want to designate one PC on their public service desk for Workflows and another for IE, though this will not be possible in all agencies.)
Note: If you do need to run another program while Workflows is open, you may find that when you attempt to return to Workflows you will see the top window bar and a blank screen. The regular screen should return eventually.

I appreciate your understanding and patience as we work through these and other issues on our way to a better, more modern ILS, and enhanced services for our customers.

Thank you,

Alan Stewart
Electronic Services Manager


Update, May 15, 2007:

If you're interested in learning more about RAM and why it's important, Kevin Dixon has posted a great explanation over on his MPLIC Tech Train blog.

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