Infolinx Update: Let’s Get Functional

This is the second in a series of articles that will be written by different members of the team who are involved in the implementation of Infolinx. This article was written by Erica Wilson, Government Information Analyst.

It’s been a while since we broke the news about Infolinx: our new records center storage, retention schedule, training, imaging production, and billing system. Now we’d like bring you up to date on our progress and give you an idea of what our next steps will be.

When we last left you, we were working on the architectural copy of the application. Hours of discussion about what fields we needed to include and how we needed the system to work transpired over months. And months. We had weekly conference calls with the team at Infolinx in which we explained – and sometimes defended – our business processes. Tim Butler, Managing Director and our main contact with Infolinx, asked a million questions to find out not only what we needed the system to do, but also to find if there were ways we could improve on our practices.

After completing myriad spreadsheets and logging significant time on long-distance calls, we signed off on our work and Infolinx engineers put together the architectural copy for us. Once we verified that the fields were correct, the tabs were in order, etc., the engineers began building the functional copy.

A preview of what the application will look like (click to enlarge)

A preview of what the application will look like (click to enlarge)

The difference between the architectural copy and the functional copy is this: the architectural copy was built so that we would know how the application would look and the functional copy shows us how the application will act. To learn a bit more about the process, I asked Tim a few questions.

What was the biggest challenge in building the functional copy? What about our functionality is completely different than any other client you’ve worked with?

Craig. [Craig Kelso, our esteemed director of SLRM?!] Seriously, the biggest challenge was also the most fun – designing the TSLAC billing functionality. Designing this module in such a way that accommodates billing charges in three different categories (storage, imaging production, and training); allowing the manual input, modification, or deletion of various and sporadic miscellaneous charges; and enabling the dynamic creation of additional future charge events was a challenging undertaking. We think TSLAC will be very pleased with the results.

What’s the next step for TSLAC now that we have the functional copy? (I know we’re supposed to try to “break it.”)

Once TSLAC thoroughly verifies the functional behavior of the application, Infolinx will repost the application to the cloud with any required fixes/tweaks, and also with large subsets of migrated production data from your current OmniRIM and FileMaker databases. TSLAC will then need to walk through each business process at least one more time to ensure that the Infolinx functionality, using real TSLAC data, still meets requirements.

We’re your first client to have an application in the cloud – did you do anything differently or approach this project from a new way? What are the benefits of being in the cloud?

Although TSLAC was the first major client to procure a cloud-based Infolinx solution, we have since implemented a number of other smaller clients using Infolinx in the cloud. We actually use Infolinx in the cloud for some of our internal business needs as well. Being on the cloud is a win-win. The biggest benefit for Infolinx is that we don’t have to work in coordination with TSLAC IT staff (although I’m sure they are great people, it just greatly simplifies and accelerates the process for us).  We don’t have to wait for servers or databases to be instantiated, we don’t have to wait for security parameters to be established, and in the event that a patch or fix is needed, we can implement that without TSLAC IT coordination. The benefits for TSLAC include financial savings (significantly less up-front cost, and ongoing technical infrastructure and personnel resource savings) and business process improvement related to the accelerated processes discussed above.

So what are the next steps for TSLAC? Well, we’ll be devoting a lot of time to testing the system, verifying data, and developing interim procedures and training for our clients. Keep watching this space for updates!