Transferring referral databases amongst software systemsMany non-profit help lines like to build up referral databases that can be used to direct their callers to other service providers for specialized or more in-depth help. Often times, it would be useful to be able to transfer these databases to and from other software systems so others might benefit from the information. For example,
- A collection of help lines might have formed a collaborative to serve a larger geographic region together.
- A smaller help line would like access to the database a larger help line in the area maintains.
- A help line wants to change from using one software system to another.
- If all involved help lines are using the same software system, it is highly likely that the transfer could be done easily or even instantaneously.
- Using an industry standard called the AIRS XML 3.0 format, data is exported from the source software system in a pre-defined format (or “schema”), which can easily be imported into the destination system if it also supports this format.
- Exporting data to a comma-separated value (CSV) file. If the destination system already has defined its own format for importation of CSV’s, then the transfer would be eased if the source system can get the export into that format. Otherwise, importation is still possible but might involve some custom programming work by the vendor of the destination system.
- Direct access to the source system database. This is easiest where the source system is a custom-made or home-grown database and its creator agrees to assist in the process, although it can be done without the creator’s help. The vendor of the destination system would then build software to interpret the source database’s structure into the destination database’s structure and then run the actual transfer.
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