eForms 101

I recently gave a presentation at our Nexus convention about eForms — and how they can produce real business value. Although the presentation was meant for those who have not spent much time analyzing the benefits of e-forms, some real industry heavyweights showed up. Unfortunately this was a lost opportunity because if I had more time I would’ve handed over the microphone for additional eForm paradigms and parables. Alas I had more material than time. Here’s a brief discussion of some of the topics I covered.

An eForm is of course an electronic representation of a paper form. In fact, many eForms look exactly like their paper counterpart. When a paper process goes electric, you’re not just leaving the paper behind. You are opening the door to processing times that are dramatically more expedient, and a host of other advantages.

Because of their inherent characteristics, eForms:

  • save money
    • When it can costs $20 to file a document and up to $314 per filing cabinet for the real state it consumes, you know storing paper isn’t cheap. And it can cost up to $220 to reproduce a lost document.
  • are green
    • Since the United States is the world’s largest producer and consumer paper, and for more than half of all organizations paper use is on the rise – the green choice is to reproduce paper processes electronically
  • are malleable
    • What if you just snail mailed one million requests for information and then discovered a fatal error in the text of your paper document. You can do the math here — it would be expensive to fix this, and slow. Online eForms can be changed in flash with very little effort or cost.

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Oracle IPM Invoice Processing Accelerators

Oracle is rolling out best-practice ERP AP invoice processing solution accelerators as part of their 11g Fusion Middleware offering. Called “adapters”, these ERP software components are available for Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, and Siebel.

The accelerators are a mechanism to ensure scanned invoices reach a backend ERP system for final handling even when there are issues in the invoice data gathered using OCR forms recognition during scanning. This allows for minimal user exception handling or intervention prior to each invoice arriving in the ERP system. The idea is to simply load the scanner with invoices, press a button, and then handle the invoices once they arrive in the backend.

In order for this approach to work, Oracle’s solution accelerators use XML documents to contain header and line invoice data. The XML documents are combined with business rules in an Oracle BPEL Process Manager workflow that automatically massages the data into a format that will be accepted by the ERP import functionality such as the Oracle EBS open interface table import. The invoice image resides in the Oracle IPM system.

In the case where data can’t be massaged sufficiently for insert, the invoice is keyed from image from within the BPEL workflow. Invoices that directly insert into the ERP system arrive either ready for validation, matching, payment, coding, etc., or are placed on hold with a hold code and a hold reason code. Some sample hold and reason codes are:

FIELD VALIDATION HOLD HOLD REASON
Purchase Order PO must be valid and open.
PO vendor must match invoice vendor.
IPM_INVALID_PO_HOLD INVALID PO NUM
INACTIVE PO
INCONSISTENT PO SUPPLIER
Supplier Supplier is required.
Supplier must exist in vendor master.
Supplier ID and supplier site ID must match.
IPM_INVALID_
SUPPLIER_HOLD
NO SUPPLIER
INVALID SUPPLIER
INCONSISTENT SUPPLIER

There are many more business rules that operate on each invoice inside of workflow that meet the requirements of the ERP system.

Oracle has created a flash demo of a scan to EBS process at:

http://bit.ly/aHaNwl

Oracle has also created a PDF document that highlights the E-Business Suite Adapter:

http://bit.ly/b4pGFa

As an Oracle partner, ImageSource has begun to implement these solutions in the field.

Clint Lewis
Senior Systems Engineer
ImageSource, Inc.

Abbyy FlexiCapture For Transcript Processing – A More Detailed Review

Last time we took a look at the Abbyy FlexiCapture product to perform College Transcript processing in a broad overview.  This time I would like to start looking at some lower level details of the product that show where FlexiLayouts end and Project Level Document Definitions begin.

Let’s start with some basic definitions.  A Layout is used to help the Recognition Engine to identify the document in a batch as belonging to a particular Document Definition.   A Layout is also used to help the Recognition Engine to find the locations of the data to extract and place in fields the user can then see and modify if necessary.  A Document Definition is used to determine the type of processing to perform on the document, the fields contained in the document and the type of data those fields should have.
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Lighten your LiquidOffice Development Load

If you are developing forms in LiquidOffice, chances are form owners have asked you to include drop lists to ensure data integrity in your backend database or repository.  And just as likely they have asked for drop list value changes AFTER the form has been published. Or sometimes there is a business need to accommodate frequent drop list value changes. In many cases it is advantageous to allow users to make the drop list value changes themselves.   One approach is to use a LiquidOffice drop list maintenance form, and restrict access to this form to the appropriate power users. Whenever the need for a change arises the maintenance form is available.

To get started, create a database to house the drop list values.  Each field in the table will correspond to a drop list on your form.  Populate these fields with the initial values the form owner has provided.

Next, create a connect agent to your database.  In LiquidOffice Management Console, highlight the Connect Agent icon then select File/ Add.  The wizard walks you through steps where you name the connect agent and the type (SQL DataBase Read/Write in my case). Select a JDBC driver and modify the JDBC URL to reflect your hostname and database name.  Provide credentials, select ‘LookUp Only’, and you are done.

When designing your form’s drop list, go into the properties to select Control type: drop list and List source: dynamic (from database).  You can then select the connect agent, table and column and you are set.  If you want the display column to be different than the storage column, click Storage Column and select another column from the drop list. An example: Display = “Arizona”,  Storage =”AZ”.   Remember you must publish the form to confirm the drop list is correctly populated.

Now create another LiquidOffice form to perform maintenance on the drop-list table.  Continue reading

Barcode Document Separation with ILINX Capture

While exploring different document separation techniques I discovered that bar code separation may cause the document to be split multiple times.   I scanned in a single document that had 334 pages and for some reason it split the document multiple times.  There were no other barcodes except one Patch Type T separator at the beginning of the document.

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eForms Technology Short Cuts That Really Work!

Often we are up against tight deadlines and we need to use all our tricks and tools to help increase efficiency and provide a better client experience.  When we have clients with large form libraries that need converting to eForms; one of my favorite tools to use is FormBridge for Liquid Office.  FormBridge does direct conversions of PDF, word, excel and other common form files to Liquid Office xfm files like magic!  The converted forms are fully editable and are amazingly accurate copies with minor tweaks for formatting once translated.  FormBridge automatically creates fillable fields, just as a forms designer would and this is a huge time saver.

Forms kick-off workflows and drive business.  Moving paper based and un-editable eforms to an intelligent digital format has many benefits such as cost savings based on efficiencies and increased accessibility.  Even a small business may have hundreds of forms.  As a system integrator of ECM technologies we know what tools and tips to help your eForms initiative become a huge success.

Leigh Woody
Program Manager
ImageSource, Inc.