ALA Midwinter mtng of NOTIS/Faxon SIG: minutes Karin Begg/Boston College 617-552-8709 19 Feb 1991 19:14 UTC
Minutes of NOTIS/Faxon SIG Meeting Sunday, January 13, 1991 in Chicago After Karin Begg's welcoming remarks and introductions, Fritz Schwartz, Manager of Faxon's EDI Services, and Joe Santosuosso, EDI Analyst at Faxon, described the X12 claims transfer capability jointly developed by Faxon and NOTIS for libraries using those two vendors' systems. This innovative pilot project, which was initiated as a result of needs previously identified by the NOTIS/Faxon SIG members, is using the University of Minnesota libraries (UMN) as a test site. It is a definite first for libraries. X12 is an accepted set of data standards which is already in use in non-library organizations for computer-to-computer electronic transmission (EDI = Electronic Data Interchange) of transactional business data such as purchase orders, invoices and banking activity. X12 has recently made peripheral inroads into library-related markets through initiatives such as Faxon's transmission of claims data to seven major scientific publishers. Although X12 is similar to the MARC bibliographic record format in that MARC also was originally designed to be a transmission format, unlike MARC no data is ever stored in X12 format but is always translated back into the format(s) of the host system(s). As a result of the project described at the meeting, the UMN serials staff will periodically extract claims data from the NOTIS check-in module using software developed by NOTIS for this purpose, and pass the data through a commercial PC software which translates the claims information into X12 and sends it over telephone lines to Faxon. At Faxon the data will be translated from X12 into a form usable by the Faxon system, after which Faxon staff will enhance the data with payment history information before forwarding it to publishers for action. Note was made that the manual process of adding the payment information required by publishers could be eliminated if the transmitted claims could contain the Faxon invoice-page-line, or IPL; but NOTIS does not want to do the programming for this for the pilot project. To date (early January 1991), two members of the UMN serials staff have been trained at Westwood in how to use the X12 software, the NOTIS extraction software has been successfully tested at UMN, and test data in X12 has been exchanged by Faxon and NOTIS. It is expected that within the next couple of weeks (by the end of January), test NOTIS claims will be transmitted by UMN to Faxon. When all tests have been completed, UMN will transmit claims data to Faxon via X12 on a nightly basis. Fritz expects that at Faxon alone, even with the Faxon staff manually adding the payment information, the savings from eliminated re-keying time (from paper claims into the Faxon system) of the X12 claims data for the UNM 5,500+ active subscriptions will be 20 person-hours per month, time which can then be spent on more in-depth problem investigations by that same staff. In addition, the accuracy of the data should be higher without the re-keying. This is consistent with the overall objective of using X12, which is to "translate the paper stream into an electronic one" for greater timeliness and efficiency. Fritz commented that he and Joe have had "tremendous cooperation from NOTIS, fabulous from UMN" in accomplishing this project. He also commented that the thorniest problem Faxon faced was the workflow change for the claims staff in going from the accustomed paper to the on-screen reviews. In response to the obvious question from the audience, Fritz said that the principal purpose of the project was for Faxon and NOTIS to test the feasibility of using X12 between their two systems for this type of activity as well as to get a specific sense of what a library's needs might be for X12 capability, rather than to develop a full-blown product that would be made available to other NOTIS sites. Jane Burke, President of NOTIS, concurred in this, especially, she said, given that NOTIS is in the process of drastically re-designing its serials module for Release 5.1 (currently scheduled to be ready by the end of 1991). Another member of the audience wanted to know if VITLS (tape loading of Faxon invoices into NOTIS) could be replaced with X12 transmission between the systems? Fritz stated that Faxon is involved in projects to test X12 invoice transmission to two other systems at this time, and would certainly be interested in doing this eventually also with NOTIS; and in fact he has already discussed such X12 possibilities with relevant NOTIS staff. In principle, NOTIS is committed to providing X12 capabilities in future NOTIS releases. Bill Sozansky, Head of the Serials Management Division of the University of Minnesota Libraries, then spoke about his impressions and experiences as a test site involved in a cooperative development project with two unrelated vendors. He said that the "Faxon training on X12 was excellent" and that "Gerry Ginsburg [NOTIS] was very helpful all along." He commented that it was true that at every stage, things had taken longer than he had originally expected and that this had been frustrating; but that overall he had been very pleased and satisfied with the process. Bill's stated expectations of the X12 claims transfer capability is that it "will be very helpful in the long run", that it will make staff more efficient and that this will eventually save the library money. He also said that only a few people on the staff needed to know something about the X12 EDI standards in order for the library to use it. There are a few data elements which have to be added to the NOTIS check-in record during check-in in a very precise way in order for the NOTIS claims extraction software to retrieve the proper information for the X12 process, but training for that part has been relatively easy at UMN. Bill will write an article for NOTISes about the UMN experience with X12, and he will also provide progress reports on the BITNET NOTIS acquisitions bulletin board. The third speaker was Gerald Ginsburg, the Systems Analyst at NOTIS who wrote the extraction software and who worked with Joe Santosuosso to iron out a number of other project-related details in the respective systems. Gerry observed that "X12 is not electronic paper or a matter of paying the telephone company [for transmission] instead of the postal service. It is a whole new way of doing things", a whole new set of demands on the NOTIS system and a way of expanding its boundaries outward beyond the local sites, and he finds this quite exciting. The project has provided NOTIS with good early experience with X12 which will better enable them to evaluate future X12 projects. Gerry asked the audience if X12 is being used anywhere on their campuses, but no-one knew of any such use. A few universities have had X12 workshops recently to consider the possibility of X12 for financial or purchasing functions. At the conclusion of the discussion of the X12 project, which elicited a number of good questions, Karin briefly reported on the status of the holdings transfer project. In that this had been identified in the 1989 interest survey of the SIG as being of significance to relatively few users and thus not justifiable as a NOTIS programming effort, Karin had agreed to pursue the possibility of having an independent programmer produce such a product for a cost to be shared by those who wanted it. Karin indicated that after canvassing the potential users of such software as to what capabilities would be acceptable to them, she has been discussing with a programmer versed in the NOTIS system how he might accomplish this. The programmer has also been in contact with Joe. Karin had copies of the programmer's work proposal which she gave to those who expressed an interest, and she asked that they provide her with very specific feedback as quickly as possible. The programmer estimates that he could accomplish the work in three months once he is given the OK to proceed. Karin then asked everyone to consider for the next SIG meeting (at ALA in Atlanta) any additional cooperative project possibilities for Faxon and NOTIS, and also she is seeking names for a new chair for the group to take over after Atlanta. The meeting ended exactly within its allotted one hour time frame. 57 people signed the attendance sheets which were circulated. [Attendees will receive printed copies of these minutes.] Notes by Karin Begg/SIG Chair ============================================================================== At the ALA Annual Conference in Atlanta this summer, the NOTIS/Faxon SIG is scheduled to meet Sunday afternoon, June 30, at 4:30 PM, location TBA. Hope to see you then!