Frequently Asked Questions
Exception Management Systems
Specific to the Intellectual Property
Management Database Environment
Winluck Pty Ltd
Management & Engineering Services
This list of Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) has been
complied in relation to Exception Management Systems as I have
engineered and constructed them in a variety of organisational
The following EMS FAQ relates specifically to the Intellectual
Property Management environment (ie: Patent & Trade Mark Attorney
practice), but may be generalised at some later date to the
broader description of EMS software in general.
Comments are welcomed.
Best of wishes,
Winluck Pty Ltd
Falls Creek, NSW
1. What is an EMS?
An EMS or Exception Management System is a system whereby an
extendable number of specialised data integrity exception checks
are routinely made against the intellectual property (IP)
2. What is the object of running an EMS?
An EMS will identify IP cases which have related data elements
that do not satisfy basic (internal) rules of IP management,
and will highlight such cases by recording the unique internal
reference ID, along with the date and time of the failed
integrity exception check.
One object of running an EMS
is to identify cases which have database problems of varying
degrees, so that this data might be corrected, and disappear
from subsequent runs of the EMS.
3. Will an EMS identify data entry errors?
If an EMS has been configured to check specific dates which
are reliant upon other dates, or fomatting of numbers or names,
and an error is made in the data entry of one of these specific
dates, or formatting of numbers or names, then the EMS will
identify such errors.
4. Will an EMS identify software application errors?
The EMS routinely checks specific critical date relationships
and deadlines, and the integrity of any or all business rules
established by the IP management software in an independent
fashion. Production exceptions which have been identified at
some sites have been traced to ad hoc and/or systematic errors
in the functionality, operation or administration of the host
IP management application.
Others exceptions identified have been traced to a root cause
of an operational failure, or an often unnoticed slippage in
a usually stable automated task.
5. Is the EMS restricted to internal database fields?
No. The EMS can and has been configured to incorporate external
data associated with those properties in the firmís portfolio
which are held at the local (national) government Intellectual
Property Office (IPO), provided that in the local country,
the IPO will supply this data on request, in some e-format.
This external check is thus in respect of all local patents,
trade marks and designs in respect of any international IP Attorney
practice. Local and/or International IPO data is imported into the
EMS as at the currency date of its publication at that Office.
This data in itself can be used with appropriate qualification of
these specific currency dates, for some time alongside the firmís
IP database, in the identification of a number of data integrity
6. How does the EMS report problem data?
The EMS will record all instances of failed exception checks on a
routine basis. Presentation of this data of course can be adapted
according to environmental requirements at the production site
(eg: email, intranet, paper reports, etc).
However in this documentation I have used simple screen dumps
from the LittleSteps application, which has been configured
to examine the data held in the EMS data results:
By selecting the appropriate EMS task for detailed enquiry,
an operator will open up a listing of the properties which
have this same condition detected in the last EMS run.
In the IP Attorney environment the EMS is usually configured
to run on a weekly basis, however this is all site determinable.
7. What is the EMS LittleSteps?
LittleSteps is software
product engineered, sold and distributed by Winluck Pty Ltd. Essentially it is
a universal data browser, data analysis and data presentation tool in its
association with the EMS.
8. Should there be data correction of EMS identified cases?
YES, ASAP. There should be expected in the initial implementation
of the EMS that a large number of problem data will rise to the
surface for examination and review, and ultimately, correction
within the practiceís production IP database.
Although this initial work will appear large, once the data has
been corrected as a once-off review, all such cases should
automatically disappear off the subsequent run of the
9. Should exceptions be blindly fixed?
NO. The IT Attorney practice administration needs to know why
the exception has appeared, and thus its ultimate cause.
A certain class of exception conditions will reveal weaknesses i
n the controls or set-ups of the IP application in use.
Once this weakness is identifed and corrected, this class of
exceptions will cease to arise. Consequently, the EMS followup
must be two-pronged.
One effort needs to be applied to the exception data, while a
second more analytical approach needs to applied to determine
the cause of subsequent reappearance.
10. Can the EMS examine logged event data?
YES. Below is a presentation of sample case specific event
history data presented at Level 3 of this EMS demonstration.
This historical (and/or logging) information is that for the
case which was selected in the previous screen.
Reference to this resource if available is often useful in
further problem resolution
11. Is the EMS an automated system?
YES, of course. Once EMS tasks have been registered and implemented
they will continue to be applied to the database on all subsequent
regenerations of the EMS. The EMS represents an extendable series
of intellectual property environment exception checks.
Long term stability of the data integrity environment
can be achieved by exhaustively specifying exception conditions
as individual EMS tasks. This practice should be a mandatory
followup for all cases found during the course of business to
be in an exception state. ie: Are there any more in this state?
12. Is there a preferred EMS databased platform?
YES. As at July 2002, the automated EMS has been successfully
evolved for the Microsoft SQLServer RDBMS. Product development
will soon move to the Oracle and DB2 (IBM) database products,
as outlined elsewhere, in the
Software Index. See also further regarding options available
for IP Attorney practices who currently use
another database application.
13. What EMS tasks relate to external IP Office data?
There are a standard series of data comparison tasks capable
of being defined within the EMS that relate the local national
(or indeed any international) IPO data to the corresponding
records in the application database.
The following set of EMS tasks is an initial sample series
prepared for this EMS_FAQ, is an Australian portfolio
and is being compared to IP Australia data (Patent Office,
Trade Mark Office and Design Office -- all consolidated):
NOTE: The implementation of such EMS tasks is obviously
dependent upon whether the government IPO is able to furnish
the practiceís portfolios in e-format.
14. Does the EMS log historical information?
YES. The EMS can retain the exception data in order to
reveal long term trends in the appearance or disappearance
of exception conditions being associated with identified
Over a period of time dependent upon resources available
and the extent of probematic cases, the effective data
correction of such cases should result in the dropping of
EMS statistics across the board.
15. Is the EMS infallible?
Nothing appears to be infallible. On the other hand,
everything today is amenable to automated exception checking.
As a result, this grey area between the white and the black
needs to be gauged by a measure of the proactive steps taken
to ensure an optimum level of data integrity is realised.
These steps can be incrementally taken by an IP Attorney practice.
Attending to known exception conditions, and ensuring that they
do not exist in an automated fashion is closer to being infallible,
than hoping exceptions do not exist.
NOTE: The LittleSteps functionality in its sorting by click on
any column in the data set presented by a defined SQL stored procedure,
itself modifiable instantaneously without any form of program change.
The ability to sort large datasets brings the obvious problem
cases to the top of the list, as is the example above, with
excessively futuristic next renewal dates.
16. What should be the expected output of an EMS run?
Nothing. At some stage you will have attended to
all defined exception conditions and the EMS will run and it will
detect absolutely no cases one week. Unfortunately, a modern
database of scale is an evolving thing, and data changes,
legislation changes, hardware and software platforms change,
and the EMS will remain to detect the re-appearance of exception
Large scale automation cannot be successfully achieved without
first achieving a good handle on the data integrity environment,
and the EMS is the tool to do this.
17. How are new exceptions reported to the EMS?
On a day to day basis, it may come to the attention of staff
that certain cases are not being reflected accurately within
the IP database, and/or that system generated output is incorrect
in various ways, etc.
It is vitally important that the occurrence of serious database
problems be reported to the IT Section, as an immediate check
of the entire database for other cases in the same condition
can be effected.
As a necessary followup, the new exception check would then
be included as a new EMS task, and would thus be run as a
routine ever-present check.
18. How are new exceptions registered within the EMS?
Here is an overview of the process to place a new EMS task
within the automated schedule after the implementation is complete.
This process is in most situations handled by the IT section,
specifically a database administrator (DBA).
Technical documentation is for the administration of the EMS is provided.
- 1. Registration of the task within the EMS.
- 2. Creation of a corresponding SQL database stored procedure.
- 3. Inclusion of this stored procedure in the EMS Regen (nb: n/a)
19. Is this EMS for all international IP applications?
YES. The EMS can be successfully configured to examine the database
of any and/or all 2002 Intellectual Property management applications.
These include, but are not restricted to CPI, CPA, InProma, PASS and
a number of inhouse packages.
The EMS operates from first principals, and in a completely independent
fashion from the host IP management application.
Obviously, the EMS requires adjustment between IP Attorney practices
running different software, but this would be part of the implementation
of the EMS for that site. Practices can also run the same software
but have different control setups, requiring specific EMS tasks to
be established according to the database environment.
20. Is the EMS a once-off IP Attorney practice review?
NO. The EMS is an automated queue of identified exception instances
evident in the applications database on a weekly (or otherwise specified)
schedule. The EMS is an immediate asset to the IP practice in the
ledger of database integrity.
As time progresses the value of the EMS is ever increasing without
effort, because it is an automated system. On the other hand,
when effort is applied to the development of the IP database EMS,
its value increases substantially.
21. What tasks preface establishment of an EMS?
The major tasks associated with the proper establishment of an
automated EMS within any IP Attorney practice, large or small,
irrespective of international location, are the preliminary analyses
required to identify practice-specific data relationships.
There are also the three issues of
- 1. the current condition of database integrity,
- 2. the type of IP management software being used (configuration settings, complexity) .
- 3. the corresponding historical issues associated with the database.
22. How long does it take to establish an EMS?
The typical implementation time for a site with a reasonable level
of data integrity, with an IP Management application of medium complexity
is in the order of a few weeks.
The size of the portfolio is not an issue to the EMS. For practices
with less complex data relationships the implementation is
A further few days should then be allowed for three important issues:
- 1. the quality assurance of the automated EMS tasks established.
- 2. Training of key operators in the use of the EMS Data Browser
- 3. Training of IT (DBAs) on how to extend the EMS task series.
23. What are the component costs of an EMS?
There are three components of cost to the implementation of an EMS:
- 1. Preliminary analysis of the IP database and identification
of any data integrity issues specific to it. The preparation of scripts
by which a site-specific automated EMS will operate. This type of work
is typically quoted at rate of $150-$200 per hour.
- 2. Cost of the LittleSteps Browser: LittleSteps, the EMS data
browser comes preconfigured to the EMS in accordance to the analysis
performed above, and specific to the IP database as established
for the practice.
LittleSteps can also be configured to present an endless
range of realtime data from the IP Management database to any and/or
all organisational groups or individual operators on the database network.
The current base cost of the LittleSteps EMS Data Browser is obtainable
on the corresponding product information page at this website.
- 3. Reimbursement of any travelling time and costs (from Australia)
if a site visit is necessary.
26. What is a ballpark estimate cost for an EMS?
It is a WIN-WIN estimate, and may be calculated from the table below.
You will need to make two separate assessments. The first will be to
rate the state of your IP database integrity. The second will be to
rate the sophistication of your IP Practice management application.
This ballpark estimate reflects the number of weeks of analysis
required to implement an EMS:
Database Integrity Database schema Sophistication
Complex Mid-Range Simple
Excellent 2-3 1-2 1
Good 3 2 1
Medium 4 3 2
Bad 5 4 3
TABLE 1: Shows the estimated number of weeks to
implement an EMS given that the assessment of the current
level of database integrity, and the current sophistication
of the database schema is appropriate. (July 2002)
An example costing for a database where the level of
integrity is medium and where the database is not complex,
yet not simple, would be three weeks at $150.00 per hour,
and could thus be in the vicinity of AU$15,000.
Add the base cost of the EMS data browser to arrive at the
total estimate (not including GST if this is indeed applicable
to your international practice).
This estimate does not include
travel time and costs if required, or the small Quality
Assurance phase to complete handover of the product to your
practice, and is provided in the spirit of ball park estimates.
As indicated in the table, this estimate is a function largely
of two parameters. If in the above example, your database was
still classified mid-range, but the level of your existent data
integrity was rated good, in lieu of medium, then the estimate
would reduce to substantially.
Note that this is independent of portfolio size (unless
handling and processing times are an issue) and is appropriate
in both the generalised aspect of IP EMS tasks (ie: IP deadline
dates, IP date relationships, etc) and the specific aspect of
site-dependent integrity exception checks (eg: where prior
analysis has revealed a weakness in specific areas of the IP database).
The one-off cost of this automated product may in fact represent
an exceeding sound investment towards ensuring an optimum level
of your practiceís database integrity --- for many financial years.
The estimate is win-win due to the fact that the assessment of
the database integrity rating will invariable move towards
excellent if, and as soon as, the EMS is harnessed effectively
for your practice environment.
27. Will the EMS reduce PI costs?
Perhaps it will not. However Professional Indemnity brokers
in the IP Attorney practice field have a high regard for
automated intelligent environment specific exception management
systems taking a front-of-line control of the simple, and not
so simple, known possible IP database exception conditions.
28. Can an EMS be installed remotely?
YES. An EMS can be engineered specific to the IP Attorney
practice database environment offsite, using only a copy of
the database. This may be sent by laptop or by CD or via a
pre-arranged FTP site, and the preliminary analysis performed
Necessary system documentation and local knowledge, if required,
can be exchanged via email. The instal of the EMS and EMS
Data Browser can also be effected via remote connectivity
at a prearranged time, as can the quality assurance phase
29. How can a site-specific EMS be installed remotely?
14 years experience in Intellectual Property Management
Database application software systems environment in the capacity
of a manager and engineer, has provided the necessary resources
to enable IP database analyses to be refined to a high degree.
Knowing the technical detail of the IP management environment,
an extensive and efficient toolkit of integrity exception testing
mechanisms have been developed, as have many specialist automation
30. Does an EMS have be automated?
NO. Automation is standard, and recommended, but not mandatory.
IP Attorney practices may choose to provide their database periodically
for checking, rather than implementing the automated EMS.
All 2002 proprietory database packages are able to be imported
directly or indirectly via export tools, into SQLServer.
Costings on this option will be supplied on request.
31. Is an EMS appropriate if data integrity is bad?
YES, of course.. An EMS is the only systematic mechanism for
approaching large scale data integrity issues, and in fact is
mandatory for such an environment. An EMS is also highly
desireable in a development environment where new software
application releases are being installed.
In this environment it will function as an indicator of
increased data integrity issues.
32. Can existing exception reports be part of the EMS?
Very easily ... Those practices which have already
pro-actively established some form of exception reporting
system are able to register their own site-specific and
historically developed checks within the automated EMS
after the implementation is delivered.
Conversely, any and/or all such historically developed
exception reports can be provided prior to implementation,
and established from the outset, within the delivered
In any event, the EMS is designed to be incrementally
extendable by the IT Staff at the IP Attorney practice,
for such is the requirement of the changing environment.
33. Are any upgrade costs associated with the EMS?
The are NO mandatory upgrade costs ... However new and appropriate
IP database integrity exception checks are constantly being created,
some of them very valuable. When the EMS is delivered, the IP
Attorney practice (or indeed corporate IP Bureau practice) will
be supplied with the latest series of their IP-Database-Specific
At periodic intervals further releases of expanded EMS tasks
will be available upon subscription to this service, as will
be further analysis tasks, if required.
41. What are the contact details for further info?
POSTAL: Winluck Pty Ltd
Information Technology Managers & Engineers
PO Box 194, Huskisson,
NSW 2540, Australia
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