3 Replies Latest reply on Mar 4, 2010 8:22 AM by Jade

    Where to begin, process?



      Where to begin, process?


      I am brand new to FileMaker 10 (currently using the free download until we can decide on what to purchase) and I am tasked with creating a Laboratory Information System for our small lab, but I have no experience besides using Access in the past.  I am a windows user.  I am a bit overwhelmed at the moment and still in planning stages.  I'm not sure where to begin.  I have been reading the user manual and it does have some great information, but still needing some real-life experience.  So I would like to ask the following.


      1. In planning a database, is there a logical process flow?  For example, create the database, tables, fields, etc. 

      2. Where does the Value Lists, Looked Ups, etc. come into play?  I find myself trying to create something only to get side tracked on having to completely plan and create something else.


      Here is the ideal goal.

      1. Create a patient database that will summarize all tests completed on an individual patient.

      2. Create an accessioning database for each specimen that comes into the laboratory.  Patients may have more than one specimen over a time period and more than one test on a specimen.

      3. Create a test result database in order to easily enter and look up test results.  To use this database to populate a printable report.

      4. Create a database for tests offered and the canned text that would need to go into the printable report.

      5. Create a quality assurance database to track various data and trends from results that were entered (turn around time, test volume, frequency of test results).


      Since this may end up being a complex database, would it be prudent to obtain some type of training and if so, what are the suggestions based on the background that I have given.

      Thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions.

        • 1. Re: Where to begin, process?

          How much experience do you have with MS Access? While the details can be very different, the essential design process can be much the same.


          Analyze your user's needs and current procedures (Sounds like you've at least started on this)

          Then you usually create at least an initial design of your tables and their relationships.

          Then you outline the data entry tasks and reports in a general way (avoid getting bogged down in details).

          Then you cycle back through your table design to see if you have the tables and relationships you need to support the layouts you just created.

          Once you've got a basic outline down, you can work out the details layout by layout (That's where value lists and many other features come in.)

          You also need to check back periodically with your users, presenting prototypes of your layouts for data entry and reports--often such examples trigger responses like "that's not quite what we need" or "Oh, I didn't know you could do that! Can we also do this..."


          It's never been a straight line process for me. You often find you have to loop back through your table and relationship design to consider changes driven by an improved understanding of what final results are needed.


          For additional training, there are certainly training tutorials and books you can purchase.

          • 2. Re: Where to begin, process?

            I am the end user, so I know what we need and I can visualize it.  It is just knowing how this all works.  I would say my experience with Access was as a user and creating queries, that was about it.  You plan makes sense, at least I know I am on the right track.

            Thanks for your input, greatly appreciated.

            • 3. Re: Where to begin, process?

              There is a formal technique (Entity Relationship Modeling) that can help you document and evaluate your requirements as you proceed.  For small data models, it is probably overkill.  But for someone starting out, it will provide a visual clarity to your design.