Life after dsNavigator, moving to a new coding system

Are you faced with the need to move to a new coding system? We understand that transitions like these can be difficult so we’ve developed this guide to assist you in your decision making process.


When thinking about a new coding system it is important to consider your current coding workflow. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the workflow you are using one you chose or was it dictated by your current system?
  • Are there things you would change or do you need a new system that is flexible enough to match your current workflow?
  • Do you have to manually load terms, and if so, would you benefit from an integration?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above you will want to look carefully at the configurability of the coding system you are considering.


Dictionaries are the heart of any coding system, making dictionary management one of the most crucial functionalities of the coding system. Here’s what you should look for with regard to dictionaries when evaluating your options.

  • Make sure that the system is flexible enough to support all of your dictionaries, standard or custom.
  • The system should offer easy and intuitive dictionary loading that can be performed by your dictionary administrator. If you do not have a dictionary administrator you will want to make sure that the system provider can support this activity or will be able to provide you with a SAAS offering that will meet your needs.
  • The system should support multiple active directory versions and languages. This is especially important for CROs or long running studies that need to stay on certain dictionary versions.
  • When it comes time to move your study over to a new dictionary version, the coding system should provide tools that will help you determine the impact on your coded terms ahead of the move, providing recommendations for any items that are impacted.

Configurability and Functionality

Popular features help us perform our job efficiently and accurately. We’ve found that the following features are a must to maximize the effectiveness of your auto encoder.

  • Customizable coding algorithms.
  • Custom synonym lists.
  • Custom stop word lists.

Above and beyond your must have options are a set of features that enhance the coding experience. Below are features that you should ensure are a part of any new system you evaluate.

  • An easy to use web interface.
  • Custom workflows.
  • Coding propagation.

You can take advantage of advances in coding technologies to drive down cost of maintenance and free up valuable IT resources. To realize these benefits look for the following in your new coding system.

  • Solid administration tools and interfaces.
  • Dictionary management.
  • Easy configuration.
  • A robust integration layer.

Consider a Single Coding System

Having a single coding system to handle all of your coding needs helps reduce cost by simplifying dictionary maintenance, reducing training and reducing IT resources. When all coding is performed in a central software it becomes important that the software has proper permissions and access rights capabilities.

  • Ensure that users are only able to access the coding terms and features that they are allowed to access.
  • You may need to restrict who can access certain verbatim based data source for example a safety system vs. an EDC system or trial A vs. trial B.
  • You may need to limit access based on workflow step. For example, you may wish to have coder and an approver setup.
  • You will also need to be able to restrict permissions and access rights based on feature. For example, only some users may be able to create / manage synonyms, propagate codes or run the auto-encoder.
  • It is also important to have the ability to set up manager roles so the coding manager can distribute the terms to various coders.

Consider Your Data

Coding systems often serve as the location where you house all of your coded data. They hold key information such as which verbatim terms have already been loaded into the coding system, which terms have been coded and identification keys to determine if the source system has modified the verbatim or its supporting data. All of this is important to ensure duplicate data is not loaded and coded and modified data gets recoded as needed.

In some circumstances you may be able to keep your existing data in your current coding system until your study ends, but for long running studies this can add costs such as dictionary maintenance, hardware and software maintenance, IT resources and of course the drain of using multiple systems.

It is important to examine what data you are currently coding and how long you will need to support this data. Once you have determined this you will want to choose a vendor that is able to help you decide which data to migrate and is able to migrate the data in an efficient and cost-friendly manner.

So What’s Next?

There are many factors in choosing a new coding system and we talked about quite a few of them here. If you would like to explore your coding software options further please schedule a consultation with one of our coding experts.

Contact us today to learn more.
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Would you like to learn more about moving to a new coding system?

→ Learn About Our Coding Solution

→ Download our Coding Datasheetfile_thumbnail

→ You can also watch our webinar (35 minutes) titled “Life after dsNavigator, Moving to a New Coding System”

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