The Office of Intramural Research is responsible for oversight and coordination of intramural research, training, and technology transfer conducted within the laboratories and clinics of the NIH. One of the major programs managed by OIR is the NIH Tenure-Track program to identify and promote outstanding scientists to the ranks of permanent intramural researchers.
When OIR contacted us, they had an existing FileMaker Pro database that was used to track the documentation, review, and overall status of tenure-track scientists at NIH. The database was difficult to use and understand; OIR staff often entered data incorrectly, and no validation existed to correct these errors. New reports and queries took weeks to be created, and the data returned was questionable.
While we used the existing database as a model to understand what functions were required, we started by interviewing all the main users of the system to determine what their real goals were and what they need to get their jobs done. A new system was built from scratch which hid the complexities of the relationships from the users and simplified the screens and commands to fit their workflow requirements. The data from the old system was migrated where possible. In some cases, the reliability of the old data was so questionable, records had to be marked so that manual validation could be done.
OIR staff have a reliable system with data they can trust. The system includes triggers and reminders so that documentation is requested and reviews are scheduled to meet the deadlines.