ZIMS PROJECT HOME

 

Project Glossary: Terms and Acronyms

ZIMS PROJECT FAQ

 

1.  Who is INTEQ and how were they involved?
2.  How do the workshops feed into the process and how are the participants selected?
3.  As individual institutions identify IT solutions, does this impact how we move forward on the association level?
4.  Who are the committee members on ADISC, and how was the committee assembled?
5.  I'm swimming in acronym soup. What is GADG, and how does it relate to ADISC?
6.  What is the role of ISIS in ADISC?
7.  What is the timeframe for completion of this project?
8 Where are we currently with the Project?
9. What are the next steps?
10. How is this project involving zoo and aquarium community members, worldwide?
11. How will ZIMS incorporate the ongoing work of ISIS?
12. Will ZIMS be built from scratch, or will it incorporate existing programs?
13. How has the AZA leadership supported the ZIMS project?
14. What was the focus of the most recent workshops, and how do they feed into the process?
15. Whatís next on the horizon for ZIMS?
16. How is ISIS changing to accommodate this emerging planning process?
17.  What will be going on with ZIMS over the next few months?
18. Iíve heard that ZIMS will take two to three years to rollout in a first phase. How are institutions addressing their record keeping needs in the meantime?
19. How will the ZIMS system differ from what we currently have in place?
20.  I understand the scope of the program, but help me understand why development will cost so much.
21. Who is on the newly emerging international committee (IADISC)?

1. Who is INTEQ and how are they involved?

In July 2001, AZA hired the INTEQ GROUP, an information technology project management consulting firm, to develop a Project Plan for the design of an integrated animal information system. The Project Plan will include a Project Charter, Scope Definition, Conceptual Data Model, and a schedule of activities leading to the development of the new information system.

2. How do the workshops feed into the process and how are the participants selected?

To gather information to develop the Project Plan, ADISC and INTEQ are hosting a series of workshops focusing on specific aspects of animal care and management. Workshops are taking place at several AZA institutions and are attended by AZA members representing a wide range of expertise.

Workshop topics include: Health Care Management, Bio-Materials, Species Inventory Management, Enclosure Inventory Management, Collection Management, Shipping, Regulatory Compliance, Environmental Monitoring, Core Data, Husbandry Activities, Contraception, Training and Enrichment, Behavior, Nutrition. Staffing, Quarantine, Research, Population Management, Natural History, Taxonomy Maintenance, Molecular data, and Core Data.

The Project Plan’s completion, including the documentation resulting from these workshops, is anticipated in January 2002.

3. As individual institutions identify IT solutions, does this impact how we move forward on the association level?

Several institutions are investigating data management systems or are in fact developing systems. As these projects move along on parallel paths to ADISC, we encourage the sharing of ideas and approaches where appropriate. The expectation is that the association will address its members’ data management needs; through the collegiate sharing of concepts and models, IT solutions may in fact be gained with greater efficiency.

4. Who are the committee members on ADISC, and how was the committee assembled?

ADISC is an AZA Board committee that originated from a Strategic Software task force (SST) of AZA’s Wildlife Conservation Management Committee (WCMC). SST members were selected to represent a wide array of expertise on data management and data use related to zoos and aquariums. Those individuals moved onto ADISC when it was formed and additional members were added to include representation from a broader group of stakeholders and disciplines. Committee Members.

5. I'm swimming in acronym soup. What is GADG, and how does it relate to ADISC?

Let’s not stop there. Here’s a brief description of some of these related groups…

ADISC is an AZA Board committee charged with developing a plan to improve animal information systems . 

GADG (Global Animal Data Group) is an ad hoc, international group with an interest in the management of animal records. It does not officially report to any association, but serves to generate discussion on the subject and offers a resource on international record-keeping issues, opinions and challenges to other working groups. For more see: www2.Netcom.com/~rlacy/SummaryReport.doc

IDMAG (Institutional Data Management Advisory Group) is an AZA Scientific Advisory Group(SAG) that addresses animal data management issues. It is independent of ADISC, but serves that committee as a data management information resource. The current chair of IDMAG is a member of ADISC.

6. What is the role of ISIS in ADISC?

ISIS is represented on ADISC as a committee member. In this role ISIS serves as an active participant in the process, an interested party and a knowledgeable consultant.

7. What is the timeframe for completion of this project?

The first phase of the project is the development of a conceptual data model, project plan and cost estimates. An independent consultant, The Inteq Group, was hired to facilitate this process which will be completed early in 2002. A business plan will be forthcoming in spring 2002.

There will be several phases following this initial planning phase which will include: analysis of system requirements, design and construction of the system, testing and deployment. It is anticipated that the entire project will take several years to complete but that high priority will be given to certain components of development.

8. Where are we currently with the Project?

In January 2002, the Inteq Group, a technology consulting firm contracted by AZA, delivered the following documents resulting from the first phase of the project: the project Mission and Charter, a conceptual data model and supporting work processes, a technology assessment and a project plan. The Charter outlines at a very high level the overall scope of a future animal information system. The system was given the name ZIMS (Zoological Information Management System) for easy reference.

In March 2002, the AZA Board of Directors approved ADISC’s request to fund the next six-month phase of the Project. The funds will come from AZA’s operating budget. This phase will ultimately result in the development of an RFP (Request for Proposals). The Inteq Group will continue to support these efforts and, in addition, Sue DuBois, Walt Disney World, has been assigned as project manager to coordinate project activities for a period of six months.

9. What are the next steps?

Over the summer, two workshops will be convened to further define the conceptual data model and work processes specifically for the inventory and medical modules of ZIMS. These specifications will then be incorporated into an RFP to provide vendors with detail about the business needs and the scope of these modules.

10. How is this project involving zoo and aquarium community members, worldwide?

In February 2002, ADISC members Sue DuBois and Bob Lacy, ADISC Finance and Governance Group members John Lewis and Jerry Borin, and AZA staff Kris Vehrs and Brandie Smith attended the Global Animal Data Group (GADG) meeting in Costa Rica. Recognizing the need for greater international participation in the development of what will be a global system, GADG participants recommended the formation of an international committee to focus on moving forward with the ZIMS project at an international level. This group, called IADISC (International Animal Data Information Systems Committee), will consist of representatives from each of the interested regional zoo and aquarium associations. IADISC will provide a forum for communicating project activities among regional associations and will insure that any new database that is developed will be truly international in scope. This group is currently being established.

11. How will ZIMS incorporate the ongoing work of ISIS?

ISIS staff members are a part of the ADISC membership and participate in ZIMS Project workshops. In addition, there is representation of ISIS committee members who are working to improve the existing animal information system. So in effect, ISIS is making a significant contribution to the design and development of ZIMS.

Concurrently, where institutions have sought to develop their own record-keeping solutions, efforts have been made to bring involved parties to the table to share ideas and models.

12. Will ZIMS be built from scratch, or will it incorporate existing programs?

ZIMS will be built from the ground up and will be a newly structured physical database and user interface. Much of the logic and many of the business rules that have been developed and accepted in ISIS software reflect our business goals and objectives, and will be maintained.

13. How has the AZA leadership supported the ZIMS project?

AZA leadership has been instrumental in guiding the ZIMS planning process in coordination with member institutions, international colleagues and associations. Support has been substantial, as association members and leaders have helped craft the vision and planning process for ZIMS. The association has provided funding for project meetings and the services of technology consultants, the Inteq Group.  Member institutions have dedicated staff time and provided project management services.

Currently, the Board of AZA has charged the ADISC with the creation of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the design and development of the core and veterinary modules.  

14. What was the focus of the most recent workshops, and how do they feed into the process?

The purpose of the two ZIMS workshops held this summer was to gather high-level requirements from subject matter experts - specifically for core and veterinary data Ė for inclusion in the Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP will allow us to solicit competitive bids for the development of ZIMS. The deliverables from both workshops include a conceptual data model and summary-level use cases.  A conceptual data model defines the high-level data requirements.  A summary-level use case is a structured description of a specific system use. Examples of actions or processes defined in a summary-level use case are a veterinarian entering a medical procedure, or a registrar accessioning an animal.   In a previous set of workshops, our goal was to define high-level data requirements to set the scope of a complete and integrated ZIMS. In these workshops, participants refined the scope definition to specifically address requirements and functionality currently supported in the ARKS and MedARKS systems plus those requirements that will correct current structural limitations. The Inteq Group facilitated the workshops.

15. Whatís next on the horizon for ZIMS?

The current focus of ADISC is to produce an RFP with our consultant the Inteq Group. The RFP will be distributed early next year with the goal of selecting a vendor and beginning the next phase of design and development by mid-year 2003.  During this time and continuing through the design phase it will be crucial to continue work on data cleanup and the development of data standards.  We are still in the very early analysis phase of the ZIMS project, and once a vendor has been selected, we will be scheduling more workshops to further refine our requirements including system design. The AZA ADISC finance and governance group and AZA leadership is also working with ISIS and other associations and stakeholder groups to establish a clear strategy for financing the system and managing the next phase of work. In addition, leaders are in the process of establishing a governance structure that will provide the necessary staffing, leadership and technical support throughout the project.  

16. How is ISIS changing to accommodate this emerging planning process?

ISIS is working with AZA and other regional associations to help develop the new ZIMS project. The ISIS Board now includes representation from all the major regional zoo associations (AZA, EAZA, ARAZPA and AMACZOO). This change will strengthen international relationships. ISIS is in the process of restructuring its bylaws, Board of Trustees and fee structure.  The Board and staff are creating a new Business Plan that will support the new global system.  In addition the ISIS Board has allocated funding to contract with fundraising consultants in North America and in Europe. 

17. What will be going on with ZIMS over the next few months?

Activities will include identifying specific roles and responsibilities for committee members and working groups to establish an infrastructure for moving the project forward, defining the process for RFP distribution and vendor selection, and getting IADISC up and running.

Inteq has delivered a final draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for the project. It includes results of the technical survey, workshop artifacts, and the project charter.  The next step on this front is to have an independent assessment of the RFP and to allow AZA and IADISC to review the proposal.  

In addition, short and long term funding strategies are being discussed for the project, with valuable input provided by AZA and ISIS, as well as specific donors. More information will follow in updates as information becomes available. 

18. Iíve heard that ZIMS will take two to three years to rollout in a first phase. How are institutions addressing their record keeping needs in the meantime? 

Many institutions are continuing to use existing record-keeping tools. Others are investigating data management systems or developing their own systems to meet their needs. As projects have developed alongside ZIMS, weíve encouraged the sharing of ideas and approaches. Our expectation is that by sharing of concepts and models, IT solutions can be gained with greater efficiency. 

Please let us know if your institution has crafted IT solutions that can be shared with ZIMS working teams.

19. How will the ZIMS system differ from what we currently have in place? 

The ZIMS product will be truly revolutionary for the zoo and aquarium profession. The project goes beyond the initial vision of a central repository of zoological data to a system that supports the information needs of the many diverse animal care and management activities of our zoological institutions.

The main architectural components of ZIMS include:

  • Transaction processing capability to support zoological related functions and processes.
  • An operational database to capture and maintain transactional data.
  • An integrated central data warehouse to capture information across institutions and support analysis and information delivery.

20. I understand the scope of the program, but help me understand why development will cost so much.

In a classic book on software project management "The Mythical Man Month" the author makes an important distinction between a software "program" and a software "product". A software program is typically one that a small programming team produces out of a workshop environment. A software product is a software program that is transformed to run as part of an integrated application in a real-world day-to-day work environment.

A tremendous amount of work is required to transform a program into a product. In fact, it is generally accepted that it requires nine times more effort to produce a software project as opposed to a program.

 ZIMS is a sophisticated and complex development initiative. The current plan is to develop a commercial quality product that supports diverse activities for a wide variety of zoological institutions and other stakeholders. The ZIMS budget will need to be robust enough to result in a software product of appropriate scope and functionality.

21. Who are AZA's representatives on the newly emerging international committee (IADISC)?

AZA President, Mark Reed, appointed the following AZA representatives to the IADISC (International Animal Data Information System Committee): Robert Erhardt, Kris Vehrs, R. Andrew Odum, and Robert Cook.  Bruce Bohmke will serve as IADISC chair and Sue DuBois will serve as the Project Manager Advisor.  IADISC members have been identified for most regional associations, but there are still a few regions that have not yet responded.  Once the committee members are all identified, the next step will be an initial organizational meeting for IADISC.  The exact date and location of this meeting has yet to be determined. 


Questions?

Contact Jeff Boehm at jboehm@sheddaquarium.org