Re: Software Caskey, William 04 Jun 1998 10:10 EST

We have purchased and are now beginning to populate and use the NextERA
database. I did respond directly to the initial inquiry regarding
NextERA and RAMS-FIE. Since there appears to be an interest in more
"public" responses, here's mine. I should preface this by saying as a
former researcher, I developed software for data acquisition and for
mathematical models of biological systems so I do understand
hardware/software/networks. Also, my experience with RAMS-FIE during
both pre-purchase and post-purchase has been positive. They've been very
helpful and responsive to my questions. I also attended the training
offered by RAMS-FIE on report writing and the data dictionary (I would
say this is required for at least one at any institution).

We are a network of Windows NT workstations with NT servers, two
dedicated to Research Administration:  one for general use and one for
NextERA. Our basic software package is Office 97. In house development
is done using Access, Visual Basic, and Visual C++.

We chose NextERA by:

1.      Identifying available software:  features, availability,
operating system, underlying database and data storage characteristics,
hardware requirements.

2.      I either obtained demonstration copies or had demonstrations of
my "first cut" choices.
3.      Then, I looked at database structure (nondisclosure agreement
required) and compared with our needs.

We chose NextERA because:

1.      Software developed in Visual Basic with Access as the underlying
database with plans to migrate to SQL Server in the future. Very
compatible with our current system and plans for the future.
2.      Data structure essentially met our needs. Not perfectly, but
we've been able to adjust appropriately--after a number of long staff
3.      Data storage is on site.
4.      We anticipated good support from RAMS-FIE based on our initial
5.      RAMS-FIE close working with federal agencies, especially NIH.
6.      Reasonable price.

We are using: Proposal Management, Award Management, Researcher Profile,
and Review Committee Management modules with Proposal Development to be
added when available. We, of course, are anticipating using Proposal
Submission when the time is right.

Installation was a snap. We did it ourselves including the first service
release. The biggest problem was setting the appropriate permissions,
etc. in Windows NT. We have written data extraction programs to generate
output files from existing databases into formats (generally comma
delimited) that can be imported into NextERA. That is proceeding very

I don't think any system, unless it's developed specifically for a site,
will be "perfect". The question is "Can you adapt your data and
reporting needs to commercially available packages?" The big outlier is
industry-sponsored clinical trials. We think we've got that resolved for
data entry and will evaluate as we go.

It's too early for us to comment on day-to-day use. We expect to
probably fine-tune our system a little as we go, but we've spent some
real time in defining our data needs BEFORE we started populating the
database. Even if we need to change, we have sufficient flexibility to
do so without undoing all we've done.

Sorry for the length of this; sometimes I prattle on. Maybe this will
stimulate some input from other users of other systems...Bill

* Bill Caskey, PhD                           *
* Director, Research & Grants Administration *
* The Children's Mercy Hospital              *
* 2401 Gillham Road                          *
* Kansas City, MO  64108                     *
*                                            *
*  Voice:  (816) 234-3879                    *
*    FAX:  (816) 855-1982                    *
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