IBM i paperless processing can integrate with, and enhance ERP (enterprise resource planning) software made by companies such as Infor and JDE, often without changing the base software used by the ERP system.
Here are six different ways IBM i paperless processing software can enhance an IBM i-based ERP system.
1. Delivering and Archiving Existing ERP Reports in Universal Formats
Paperless reporting software (report automation) can convert and deliver existing IBM i ERP spooled file reports into the universal file formats that users need, such as PDF, HTML, Word, or XLSX. Without changing any underlying ERP code, some software can convert spooled files to universal formats, deliver those files to your users via email and through the Web, and archive them to Windows file servers or to folders inside the IBM i Integrated File System (IFS).
2. Bursting ERP Reports
Paperless reporting software allows you to burst ERP spooled file reports for printing or PDF delivery. Bursting creates subsets of existing reports for distribution to key users. ERP reports such as inventory aging, sales summary reports, or even the general ledger can be segmented through bursting technology so that users only receive the report information they need. This can help deliver ERP information by department or deliver summary information to executives.
3. Re-formatting ERP Reports
ERP spooled file reports can also be reformatted to modify the look or contents of a report, again without reprogramming the underlying code. Sales reports can be re-sorted by departments, order totals, or other key columns. Inventory reports can be re-ordered by inventory levels or order dates. Paperless reporting software also allows you to move and rearrange entire report columns to present like information together.
Reformatting also allows you to change column headings, change static text such as headers or company names, and to secure sensitive information in reports. Reformatting can revitalize older ERP reports and present them in new or different ways that don’t require any reprogramming.
4. Adding Barcodes to ERP Documents
Good document management software can create electronic forms with barcodes, including invoices, statements, labels, and tickets. This support includes required barcode standards such as GS1-128, EAN-8, EAN-13, USPSIM, and PDF417.
ERP documents with barcodes can be printed on a single pass to inexpensive network laser printers (reducing costs by eliminating expensive pre-printed forms). The barcodes are also automatically added to PDF versions of the documents.
It’s important to look for document management packages that handle barcode-to-PDF conversion by generating barcodes without using fonts. Font-free conversion bypasses issues with accurate barcode representation in a PDF. The barcode simply becomes easily readable when opening an ERP in PDF format and can be printed on any network printer. Software that uses fonts for PDF conversion can sometimes cause compatibility or printing issues.
5. Templates for Popular IBM i ERP Report and Document Conversion
Some packages allow users to create special templates for automatically converting recurring reports to universal formats such as Excel spreadsheets. These templates can be customized for an ERP package’s specific spooled file formats, and to specify how to format spooled file reports for conversion to XLSX or other formats. The user can specify what report data should be included or excluded in the spreadsheet and what formatting options (including the use of color for highlighting) should be used.
Extending this capability, some paperless reporting vendors provide vendor-specific templates that can be used to convert the spooled file formats provided with popular ERP software packages like:
- Infor XA, LX, and System 21
- Island Pacific
- Jack Henry & Associates
- JD Edwards (JDE)
- Sungard Public Sector (formerly HTE)
- Other packages
Pre-designed templates for these packages are often delivered as a “library” of ready-made reports. This library can be restored and used immediately with many popular ERP packages.
6. Same Machine = More Capabilities
ERP report automation and document management are best enabled on an IBM i system where your ERP software resides on the same partition as your paperless processing solution. Having all your tools in the IBM i environment provides these benefits over exporting IBM i data to a different server and using other non-IBM i tools for paperless processing.
- It saves time – You’re refreshing and reusing existing IBM i reports and documents, without involving the programming staff or recreating the report on another server.
- It saves money – You don’t have to license and set up another server to convert or archive reports.
- It saves effort – You don’t have to set up and maintain data export capabilities for moving IBM i ERP data off-server.
- It saves training and skills acquisition – Conversion and archiving can be accomplished with IBM i skills. You don’t need to add or use experts in Windows technology to reformat, convert, and archive your IBM i ERP data. Many of these tools can be used by existing staff.
There are many ways you can integrate a paperless processing solution with your production ERP software. Contact us at DRV Tech if you need help evaluating or adding a paperless processing solution to your ERP implementation.