Ten years ago this month we were excited to see a favorable review in the IBM System Magazine of our brand-new product SpoolFlex, designed to maximize output from IBM servers by converting spool files into usable formats like PDF and Excel. Of course, despite getting a special call-out for our customer service and ease of use, what I remember most is a few areas where the author of the article thought we could add to the functionality.
The ability to fax as well as print was a feature that was requested. We added that and much more to maximize electronic report conversion, distribution, and archiving of the important data held on IBM i, iSeries and AS/400 servers.
We were a pioneer in those days and we still think like a pioneer. Here is our best input on what your software should be doing for you today to maximize output and what new features are on the horizon.
Look today for increasingly sophisticated tools and features that can further refine report generation and delivery.
- Increased ability for users to customize invoices and delivery
- Quicker turn around times. Spool files can be turned into PDFs within 10 minutes.
- Security features that restrict user access
- Formatting features that allow comparative highlighting
- The ability to output a report to HTML formatting and embed the body into an email distribution list.
- Expanded maintenance and troubleshooting to quickly solve issues
- Enhanced indexing capabilities of Audit Trail module for document management
Look today for an increasing number of requests for customization from multiple areas of your company.
- Accounting is looking for ways to customize invoices, simplify process, and get quicker payments. For example, we have a client that wanted to customize invoices so that customers who had a credit did not get an email with the word “Invoice” on their statements.
- Finance is interested in the ability to manipulate reports in usable formats such as Excel.
- Remember those boxes upon boxes of green paper? They were not so environmentally “green.” Greatly reducing those stacks of boxes helps companies meet green initiatives, not to mention a bonus to the bottom-line with savings on paper, ink, and labor.
- Marketing departments are using Spool software to take a bite out of “big data.” The ability to find and track data gathered about prospects and existing clients and then convert the spool file into a useable format is an invaluable tool. It allows companies to be more nimble in changing tactics if a campaign is not successful, and converts data into intel that allows penetration of new markets with better speed and accuracy.
- Sales Departments want increasingly granular data about prospects presented in clearly defined reports with speed at a premium. A good example of this can be found in this case study about a company in the Midwest that was able to grow its revenue by using SpoolFlex to convert their spool file of sales numbers into a PDF report that could be emailed. Managers and reps got weekly totals 5 days earlier than the old method of printing and mailing.
What’s next? The workforce in the U.S. and globally is increasingly mobile. Here is where we see the next big steps taken and where we are going:
- Remote Green Screen App. The ability to view spool files on a laptop; convert them into formats, email them or fax them.
- Remote archive access. The ability to look up documents on the spool files from the Internet allows users to stay on task when away from the office.
The functional business world is getting smaller. The ability to convert spool files and other output software from a smart phone is in demand and on its way.
We are interested in hearing what YOU think should be the next logical progression for Spool Software. What new feature or capability would help you do your job better and help you meet the escalating demands for customization?