When most people think of IBM i report automation software (paperless reporting), they only think of converting and emailing spooled file reports to users. While this is a valuable feature, it’s not the only benefit a paperless reporting solution provides.
If you already own a report automation solution like SpoolFlex or you’re thinking of purchasing a solution, here are four other ways (besides emailing reports) where you can leverage paperless reporting software in your organization.
Website Inquiry Response Compatibility
Paperless reporting software can convert any IBM i spooled file report to HTML, XML, or PDF for use in an application or on a website accessed through mobile or desktop devices. This works well for inquiry sites provided by banks, hospitals, or government agencies when the customer requests information. After receiving the request, a new IBM i report can be generated or an existing report can be modified. The report can then be downloaded to the reporting site or emailed to the user.
In this scenario, your paperless reporting software becomes part of your information delivery service. The website or app enters the request, your IBM i application creates a spooled file containing the requested information, and your paperless reporting software converts the spooled file to a universal format and delivers it back to the requester.
Integration Inputs to Companion Servers
One of the biggest demands for IBM i report data is to export information for integration with other servers. On any given day, IBM i information is sent to companion servers for a number of different reasons, including:
- Combining with other information residing on external databases such as Microsoft SQL servers, for query and analysis purposes.
- Exporting purchase order and order information to warehouse management systems for inventory management and order processing.
- Uploading to a corporate financial system or a business intelligence server for financial reporting and analysis.
Paperless reporting solutions can deliver pre-processed spooled file data to companion servers in input formats such as CSV, TXT, or XML. In this configuration, a reporting solution becomes a key input source for other systems. Alternatively, the report information can be converted and stored inside an IBM i Integrated File System (IFS) folder and your companion servers can connect to your system through ODBC, OLE DB, Java, or Secure FTP and download it as needed.
Report Distribution for User Analysis
Reports can also be emailed to users in universal formats (i.e. XLSX, CSV, or TXT) which the users can use for their own analysis. Paperless reporting solutions can convert and deliver reports in formats that the recipient can use to do their own analysis in Microsoft Excel or a database program.
Delivery capabilities for analytical files can go beyond report conversion and email. Any good report automation package can also do the following when delivering spreadsheet or text data to a user:
- Automatically schedule conversion and delivery inside its own software, without having to purchase or use separate job scheduling software.
- Combine multiple report lines containing similar information into a single Excel spreadsheet row for sorting and analysis.
- Ensure that numbers and text break correctly when converting report data into an Excel spreadsheet.
- Pre-analysis of data, comparing columns and totals, and highlighting significant information in color for easier location by the recipient.
In this scenario, a paperless reporting solution can be used as an individual analysis tool for determining trends in the data.
Provide Historical Data for Auditing, Research, and Sending Lost Reports
Paperless reporting software can also automatically archive spooled file reports, again in popular universal formats such as PDF or HTML. This allows your users the following advantages in viewing and working with historical data.
- Determining when specific reports were delivered and to whom they were delivered.
- Pulling historical reports for research and review.
- Re sending reports for users who may not have received a report or have lost/deleted an emailed report.
In this scenario, paperless reporting software provides a historical record of converted reports. This record can be accessed at will, eliminating the need for paper-based archives and the cost associated with a manual archive.
There are a number of ways you can leverage professionally developed paperless reporting software, besides only emailing completed reports. Feel free to contact us at DRVTech if you’d like more information on how to leverage a report automation solution to answer your own business needs. Also, check out our eGuide, webcast and other material related to this post below for more information on paperless reporting solutions.