You don’t need a PhD in Computer Science or any additional programming modifications to your IBM i system to realize the countless benefits you can receive by implimenting IBM i report automation solutions (paperless reporting). For example, you can convert spooled file documents to digital formats (i.e. Excel and PDF) or digitize and archive spooled files for secure delivery to users and servers.
Here are six added benefits we’ve found that organizations enjoy when they set up a paperless reporting solution:
1. Your Staff Can Focus on Core Responsibilities
Paperless reporting lets people focus on their jobs rather than converting IBM i report information manually, turning busy work into productive work.
Users can focus more time on analyzing and acting on information, rather than downloading spooled file reports into Excel or other formats.
Programmers can focus on producing better software that drives the business, rather than writing report conversion, distribution, and archiving code from scratch. My philosophy has always been if you need a programmer to set it up and use it, it’s an outdated software model. That’s particularly true at DRVTech, where there are many excellent off-the-shelf paperless reporting solutions that get your programmers out of the report distribution business.
2. Automatically Secure Report Data
You can easily secure digitized spooled files to make sure sensitive information is only available to authorized users. Professional packages include encryption capabilities, options to lock down conversion utilities only to authorized users, and the ability to mask sensitive information in distributed reports.
3. Standardized IBM i Report Conversions
Without paperless reporting software, it’s very complicated to convert reports into universal formats such as XLSX and PDF. For DIY solutions, your programming staff has to go in and tediously recreate code that’s already commercially available, such as DRV Tech’s SpoolFlex report automation system.
As an example, using IBM-provided capabilities for spooled file-to-Excel downloads can be convoluted and dangerous for your data. Some of the problems that can occur include:
- IBM i report information needs to be mapped into an Excel spreadsheet – It can take several hours to make a spreadsheet look like the report it was generated from. Manual correction is often needed to edit, cut & paste, and get the data into the correct rows.
- Breaking columnar data – Spreadsheet downloads often break individual cell values into two or more columns. Text data can be split at cell borders or at the spaces between words, causing uneven columns. Text can show up where numbers should be and vice versa, forcing manual corrections.
- Potential to corrupt data – Numbers can be automatically broken between columns, causing corrupted data to appear in your spreadsheet
- Negative signs sometimes translate incorrectly when the minus sign is on the wrong side of the cell value
And these issues can be just as bad with other conversion formats, such as PDFs.
Paperless reporting packages avoid these errors by providing easy-to-use, intuitive interfaces for converting spooled files to universal formats such as XLSX, PDF, HTML, XML, and Word. All spooled files are quickly and correctly converted, and the conversion process is the same for each spooled file.
4. Reduced Report Programming
Options are available to burst (split) reports into subsets that only contain the report information needed for specific groups, reducing programming demand for new reports. Key report information can be automatically extracted and delivered to higher level managers and executives.
5. Eliminate Human Error
Because spooled files are automatically converted and distributed, you eliminate human errors that can be introduced through manual download and correction processes. Professional packages convert spooled files correctly on the first pass, removing the need for someone to “tweak” the download and possibly mess up the data.
6. Automated Report Distribution & Archiving
Users get their reports faster. Spooled file reports can be scheduled for automatic conversion, distribution, and archival to an IBM i Integrated File System (IFS) or external file server folders. Converted files can also be text searchable, making it easier for staff to quickly locate specific reports (great for audit reporting and quickly retrieving and resending reports).
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to using professionally developed paperless reporting software. Feel free to contact us at DRV Tech if you’d like more information on how to conquer your specific report automation issues. Also, check out the additional resources listed below for more information on paperless processing solutions.
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