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Case Study: IFD and TMA team together to launch the new iDocs SmartRouter 1.0
-Contributor: Dennis Fletcher

inFORM Decisions has touted and implemented fairly sophisticated document routing applications for many years now.  Utilizing their iDocs engine with their iMail, iFax, and iView (archive) modules, and built-in features like form sets and conditional mapping, they've been able to provide an acceptable document routing solution exclusively for the iSeries community.

"It's a whole new ballgame now," Dan Forster, President at inFORM, told me recently. "We're introducing a new product, SmartRouter, that streamlines and productizes our solution to historically painful document-report routing environments."

inFORM teamed up with business partner, Tom Mann & Associates (TMA), a sharp, service oriented iSeries Consulting group based in Anaheim, California. Together, they developed a user-friendly solution that provides step-by-step menus to define conditions and tests to draw out specific pages of spool files to be directed to specified targets.  Spool file attributes may be overridden; individual pages of a report or business form can be burst, sorted, grouped, bundled, and ultimately directed or re-directed to a target.

"SmartRouter is powerful, and much easier to use....     it's just a little tricky to explain," confided Forster.

After several years researching document management solutions in the iSeries arena, TMA felt IFD's iDocs Suite came closest to fitting the needs of their largest client, a manufacturer of flooring installation tools and accessories.  "All we needed was for inFORM to improve on its current document routing capabilities, " reported Mann. "inFORM agreed to spec out with us what our client needed, what wasn't currently in their product, and what didn't appear to be available on the market."

Describing some pain points of their client, Mann told us, "We had to configure everything twice, first on the PC and then on the iSeries; a redundant setup was always necessary.  Moreover, processing was slow due to the need to download electronic documents to a PC to process." It became obvious to Mann that his client would need to upgrade to a more powerful document automation solution. "With IFD's  iDocs Suite, a lot of setup and processing time goes away; processing speed improved dramatically, since the iDocs process runs natively on the iSeries."

Mann told us the need for forms and spool file distribution at their client's offices was very complex. They were able to meet their demanding document handling needs with the inFORM Decisions document automation solution including the new SmartRouter recently announced at the 2009 COMMON Conference in Reno, Nevada.

In cases where a single spool file needed to be split and distributed to multiple recipients, inFORM's SmartRouter served their client as a gateway into forms processing, making it a simple process to interrogate page content, override spool file attributes, and hand-off the resulting spool file to the iDocs module for forms/graphic merging and distribution.  "We also found SmartRouter very helpful in further automating our client's email and printing processes, " continued Mann.  "For simple report distribution, inFORM's iMail module allowed us to quickly and easily automate overnight distribution of reports."

inFORM's iView module for Web-based, iSeries native, document archive and retrieval added even more value to TMA's client solution.  Mann explained,  "In an automated process, iView receives the PDF forms from iDocs and stores them on our client's  mapped drive for easy viewing, printing, or emailing ... and all this through secure, web browser access."

Evident within all of the inFORM document management solutions is an inherent speed of processing.  "Both the client and I were amazed at the faster performance and improved capabilities compared to their old combined iSeries-PC based solution," added Mann.  "In some cases, processing speed alone allowed us to re-open and resolve old client requirements that had remained unmet."

Any regrets Tom?  "Yes! We should have made the switch to inFORM's solution for this client several years ago."

Click here to learn more about inFORM's new iDocs SmartRouterTM or go the April 26th news announcement on the Home Page of the inFORM Web site:

Dennis Fletcher is an industry analyst and contributor to the AS/400 - IBM i community since the Sixties.  Reach Fletcher at FletcherMktg@gmail.com.  

Tom Mann
TMA & Associates
TMA specializes in providing consulting and services to the IBM i community
TMA can be reached at:  
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