24 August 2016

Keep in Touch!

Keep In Touch!

I've just gotten back from vacation, where I spent time with old friends from my years working at Binder Park Zoo.  As we parted ways, we promised each other we'd keep in touch. 

That made me think of a project we've been working on “behind the scenes” here at Species360.  The past several years have seen big changes for you, our members, as you moved from our legacy software to ZIMS.  Just like you, we've moved from older legacy systems to new software for managing our business.  We even had our own data migration project from our old contact management system to our new one – and that meant we brought thousands of old contact names and email addresses with us.

When we need to contact you, it's critical that we have current information.  Sometimes we need to send information to your directors, or to your Species360 representative, or to the invoice recipient at your institution.  If those contacts aren't in ZIMS, we don't have a way to get information to you that you need as a member of Species360.

The project we've been working on this summer has been to move all the old, “hidden” contacts into ZIMS where you can see them.  You might have noticed some additions to your staff list – that's us, making those “hidden” contacts visible to you (they are not visible outside your institution.)  If they are old or incorrect, please update them or mark them obsolete!  That way, we won't send messages to the wrong people.

It's easy to manage your staff list in ZIMS – just click “Start > Institution > My Institution” and then expand the Staff grid.  You can right-click on each staff member and choose “View/Edit Staff Details” to update names, job types, emails, etc.  It is critical that you have at least a director, Species360 Representative, and Species360 Invoice Recipient identified at your institution so you don't miss critical communications from us.  And of course, you can always reach out to us at support@Species360.org .

After all, we want to keep in touch!

Elisabeth Hunt
Member Support and Training Director, Species360




12 August 2016

If a shark could knit . . . . silly thoughts on a serious topic

It's Friday and we're in a silly mood. 

Per the story linked here, the Greenland shark--second-largest carnivorous shark after great whites--may live for 400 years. Imagine that! At one every three months, you could knit 1,600 sweaters--enough to clothe a small town. Don't knit? At one game per week, you could play 20,800 games of soccer. Granted, most sharks have neither hands to hold knitting needles, nor feet to kick a ball. With all that time, what might a shark do that is, well, sharky? How many fish could it consume? How many sharks could it help procreate? How many miles could it swim?

If this lifespan estimation is correct (and there is some evidence to suggest individual specimens could live as long as 512 years old) the Greenland shark's longevity would be exceeded only by the ocean quahog clam--which, we feel compelled to mention, could neither knit a sweater nor play soccer--nor even circumnavigate the globe many many many times, as can the Greenland shark. Still, extreme age even in a clam is noteworthy in and of itself.

On a more serious note, shark conservation efforts have become increasingly urgent as sharks are caught in ever-greater numbers for such human uses as shark fin soup, as well as as by-catch of commercial fisheries. Though shark week movie marathons are television staples, and the reputation of sharks is undeservedly negative, don't we owe them a healthy dose of concern? We suggest you think of this the next time you knit a sweater or play a game of soccer--or go for a swim.

Greenland sharks

10 August 2016

Bugs, enhancements, and updates- steady progress in ZIMS

Hello! I'm Rachel Thompson, product owner of the Production Support and Minor Enhancement team.

As is true with many powerful software applications, ZIMS continues to grow and improve. Within Species360 (formerly ISIS), our development teams actively create new functionalities to serve our global membership. While some team members are building new content, other team members are simultaneously working to fix bugs and add minor enhancements on existing functionality, based on member input.

Our support staff also play an active role, reporting bugs identified by members and following up after they have been fixed. If you see something in ZIMS that does not work as expected, make sure you report it to your Species360 member support representative! We also have a list of enhancement ideas that have been identified by members for future development, via the “Suggest Feature” tool within ZIMS. We welcome that feedback!

Our Production Support team may be small, but they are mighty! The team completed six valuable enhancements since our last major release in January:

  • When an animal transfers to a new institution, there are often identifiers such as transponders, tattoos, house names, etc. that may continue to be used upon arrival. The receiving institution can “Accept as local identifier” to quickly add this information to their local active identifier list. 
  • The “Animals Available” grid in My Institution will now display the local ID. 
  • When adding a new staff member to your institution, you can now capture an email address on the “add new staff' screen. 
  • Aquatic enclosure treatment screens received changes to make them more consistent with other treatment types. 
  • ZIMS now creates a pending transaction for owner institutions when a death is recorded by an institution holding an animal on loan or lease. Previously, ZIMS created a post office message and this enhancement makes the transactions more visible. 
  • Currently, when adding Maintenance to an Enclosure, Life Support, or Component there is an “Apply to all Occupants” check box related to the details text box. If you check this box and the details field is blank, no data is recorded. However this can be confusing, so this check box will be disabled until data is entered in the details box.This enhancement is complete, but being held until our next major release since it touches several screens and needs to be tested multiple ways prior to release. 

The team has fixed and released 27 bugs in July 2016 and 190 total since January 1, 2016.

Bugs are prioritized when they come in and we address them in order of urgency. We make an effort to track which part of the application each bug relates to. The breakdown for July was:

  • 5 issues with medical components (18 for all of 2016) 
  • 7 issues with husbandry components (70 for all of 2016) 
  • 3 issues with reports (22 for all of 2016) 
  • 2 issues with aquatic components (7 for all of 2016) 

The remainder were general application bugs.

Species 360 keeps working to maintain and improve ZIMS. Stay tuned for future updates!

02 August 2016

Do you want to know a secret?

Hopefully, you’ve heard by now: we have a new name. We were ISIS. We are now Species360. But some things don’t change. We have the same passion, the same mission, and the same vision. We strive, as ever, to provide the world’s most current, comprehensive and reliable source of knowledge on intensively managed species. Our application, ZIMS, is the embodiment of that vision. Our goal is to improve it every day.
What you may not know is that we have recently organized five teams dedicated to accomplishing this goal by leading our efforts on specific modules of ZIMS. Each team is led by a product manager and includes a combination of developers, analysts, and testers. The product managers are responsible for driving software products that successfully serve our members and users. They came to Species360 (formerly ISIS) from the same zoo and aquarium community that we serve, and share with our members a common background and perspective. Each team is built to best support our product goals for the year (more on that in my next post). For 2016, our product teams focus on Studbook Management, Production Support, Population Sustainability, Aquatics, and Premium Services.
 Get ready!  As we continually look to improve our software and service, you will be hearing from our product managers soon: on this blog, in our newsletters, and at conferences near you!

--Doug Verduzco, Chief Information Officer

18 July 2016

What's In a name? A lot, as it turns out.

In 1973, in the basement of the Minnesota Zoo, we quietly opened our doors as a non-profit, non-governmental organization called the International Species Information System. Over the subsequent 43 years, an inventory system became an information system; paper logs were computerized, and desktop applications moved to the internet. ARKS and MedARKS evolved to become ZIMS—available in 3 languages and likely to be in a fourth in 2017. Membership grew from a handful of institutions to over 1000. ZIMS went online. We’ve extended our reach from traditional zoos, aquariums, and zoological associations to educational institutions, rescue centers, and other species welfare and conservation organizations. We’re proud of our progress.
But we had an issue with our name—or more precisely, with our acronym, ISIS, which we now had the misfortune of sharing with terrorists.  Sure, we were here first, but our staff began to receive inappropriate phone calls and emails; we became well acquainted with our local and federal police. Members began struggling with what to call us. (And call me petty, but we minded having to remove our very popular ISIS luggage tags when traveling.) 
The issue became a major distraction. Last October, in consultation with our Board of Trustees and many of our members, we decided a change was due. Now, several months and a lot of careful soul-searching later, we are unveiling a new name, logo, tagline, and the beginnings of a new website (which will be completed over the next several months).    
Our new identity builds upon the core themes of ‘species information’, ‘global’, ‘technology’, ‘inclusion’, and ‘conservation.’ ‘Species360’ represents all-encompassing species information. 360 implies a circle, comprehensiveness, and a reflection of our living planet and our global members. The tagline speaks directly to the global magnitude of the organization, implying collaboration and a willingness to work together and share information, united by a common wildlife conservation goal.

We hope you like our new identity as much as we do. We look forward to providing the same great systems and service!

Jim Guenter
CEO, Species360