At DRV Tech, we talk a lot about report automation and document management software and what it can do for organizations.
What most people don’t usually realize is that report automation and document management are two components of a paperless processing system that automates your entire IBM i manual paper flow.
If you’re unfamiliar with paperless processing, here’s what makes up a paperless processing system and the roles that report automation and document management software play in that system.
IBM i Paperless Processing = Report Automation & Document Management
Paperless processing covers all the activities needed to automate a paper-intensive process flow, without using any paper-based forms. It uses the following software packages to free up time, deliver critical report and form data in user-friendly formats, and archive forms and reports. An IBM i paperless processing system utilizes these components.
Report Automation Software (Paperless Reporting system) – This is your IBM i-based solution for distribution of spooled file reports in universal digital formats, such as PDF, XLSX, and HTML. Paperless Reporting includes all the activities for converting, delivering, and archiving existing spooled files as digital files. See our DRV Tech eGuide Everything You Need to Know About Paperless Reporting Solutions and IBM i for a complete overview of IBM i paperless reporting.
Document Management – A document management system is your software solution for creating, delivering, and archiving documents created from electronic forms that are merged with IBM i data. It uses electronic form generation packages such as DRV Tech’s FormFlex. A good document management solution performs many services on an IBM I, including:
- Electronic forms creation and editing, complete with graphical elements such as lines, boxes, static text, logos, and signatures
- Mapping and merging IBM i data into electronic forms to populate and fill out completed documents for distribution
- Conditional logic to process and print individual forms with different elements, depending on the contents of the merged data
- Setting up distribution rules for paperless document delivery by email or faxing
- Creating and archiving text-searchable PDFs that can be stored to an IBM i Integrated File System (IFS) folder or to a Windows network server, allowing users to quickly locate and resend documents, as needed
Report automation and document management software enables paperless processing, which eliminates the paper waste and associated labor costs that used to occur with manual document processing. More importantly, paperless processing puts report and document information in the hands of the people who need it to make important decisions to keep your company ahead in the marketplace.
What’s the difference between IBM i reports and forms?
One confusing item that comes up with paperless processing systems is why there are two types of packages for report automation (spooled file processing) and document management (forms processing). The reason lies in the difference between report and electronic form processing on an IBM i.
IBM i Reports are usually spooled files that document day-to-day activities, including financial reports, inventory reports, sales reports, and queries. With some exceptions, the report consists of columnar data, headings, columns, and totals. Reports are generated line-by-line with IBM i data (no data merging needed). Their layouts are functional without graphical elements or electronic forms. Report information is generally consumed internally within an organization. An IBM i report automation package deals with converting, manipulating and delivering spooled file data to its recipients.
IBM i Forms are generally documents that are exchanged with and are processed by outside organizations, including customers, business partners, and vendors. Form types include invoices, purchase orders, statements, bills of lading, and other designed outward-facing documents. In addition to columnar data (which many forms have), forms also have graphical elements such as lines, boxes, logos, boilerplate text on both sides of the form, and signatures. IBM i data is merged with a pre-existing form for printing. They can also be archived into text-searchable PDFs for easy retrieval. Forms are generally but not always, consumed externally for business and reporting with outside entities. An IBM i document management system deals with form generation, distribution, and archiving.
I’ll be covering more on paperless processing topics in future blogs. To learn more about all of these issues, check out the helpful blog posts that are linked to below.
For more information on what our Spooled File distribution software and paperless reporting solutions can do for your business, download the eGuide below.