Migrating from Stellent UCM & IBPM – A little foresight can alleviate a lot of trouble

Migrations from systems like IBPM to ILINX can be fraught with issues that can bite the unwary in very bad places. However, if you are aware of such problems, you can plan ways to mitigate them and have a successful migration in the end.

One issue we run into is documents that have a page or two with corrupt images. Perhaps when the page was first contributed to IBPM, a system or other type of issue caused the image to be corrupt or cease to exist. Either physical hardware or a software bug can be the culprit. The product we use for migration, ILINX Export, will flag this document as an error, skip it and move on to the next document in RECID order. Once the export is completed, these flagged documents have to be re-visited. Once a determination is made that an image is indeed corrupt, and the chance to recover it from backups is extremely remote, the document can be deleted or manually exported from IBPM without the corrupt image.

Another matter we’ve dealt with is related to non-tiff images. This category is “universal” type images, and includes PDF, DOC, XLS, MSG and a host of other file types that IBPM supports. There are options within the ILINX Export tool that will allow the export of these files types in their native format through the IBPM SDK. Or the export can be done through database manipulation that can directly access the image file and then “unzip” the universal file into its native format.

The issue that can be encountered here is twofold, and manifests itself when migrating to another repository. One, IBPM stores the native file zipped up with another file that contains metadata and has no file extension. When the document is unzipped there are two files, one with a valid file type and one without. Typically, backend repositories require file extensions, which are useful for performance, like displaying file type icon on the user interface, and a variety of other reasons. During the migration, importing to the backend may be impeded due to a lack of extensions on the metadata files. Secondly, if the extension of the universal file has been altered or damaged in storage, the file type may not be a standard that the new repository will accept. In any case, having your migration come to a screeching halt is something to avoid.

Awareness is the key. By proactively incorporating a response into your migration plan, you can eliminate much heartburn and anxiety. That is where the expertise and knowledge of a seasoned Optika / Stellent / Oracle integrator, like ImageSource, comes into play. We have helped many customers build migration plans that take these and other items into account, so the migrations are as smooth and worry-free as possible.

Failover Cluster Troubleshooting

There’s nothing quite like logging in to a customer’s system first thing Monday morning only to be greeted with this:

Cluster_report

I discovered this when I wasn’t able to log into the customer’s ILINX Capture implementation. The logged error (failure to locate the SQL Server) led me to take a look at the SQL Server’s configuration to confirm that its service was not running on either node of the cluster, and the error I got when trying to start that (a clustered resource could not be activated) led me to check on the clustered resources themselves.
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Right way….wrong way

As with pretty much everything in life there is a right way to do something, and there is a wrong way to do something.  Unfortunately, it is often accompanied by that annoying “grey area” where it “sometimes” works.  This is an ever present problem when implementing and supporting hardware and software solutions.

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Match Fields Early when Designing an Imaging Solution

When building an enterprise level imaging system, one of the most important early tasks is matching up the fields in the solution. A typical ERP imaging solution has fields in the following functional areas:

Scan and validation
Image repository
Workflow template
Temporary tables for line items and custom forms
EBS tables

Looking at the big picture, the entire imaging solution is simply a transportation system for meta data stored in table columns (fields) at various stages from paper scan to workflow, to voucher creation. Fields carry information that tie to a specific image document.

Many fields map across each step of the process and must have the same data types. Some fields are used uniquely during scanning, image retrieval, workflow, or in the ERP backend. It is very difficult to begin a project until all these fields are well-known and understood.

One of the challenges of matching up fields is that each area may refer to a field data type (string, integer, etc.) in a slightly different way. An experienced architect and solutions implementor will resolve the type quirks during implementation.

I’ve found the best way to understand how the fields map across the solution is to create a single table with a common set of fields names and data types with columns indicating areas of use, rather than creating separate tables spread throughout the project plan for each area.

Since project plans are lengthy, having a single field mapping table makes it much easier to create the necessary fields, templates, and tables during project implementation since you don’t have to jump around in the project document to find the needed information. Also, having a single table prevents incorrectly mapped fields between functional areas because the big picture view is simple to understand.

I like to use color to highlight specific logical field groupings and keep notes for each field. I tend to continuously revise the master table as the project unfolds and additional information is discovered and then email each revision to the key project players so that everyone is working from the same assumptions.

Here is a link to a sample field mapping table. The table can be improved by adding a column that contains realistic sample data for each field. I use basic field type nomenclature and convert the types as needed in each functional environment.

If you are responsible for putting together a project plan for an imaging system deployment, or work in a company with an imaging system, I encourage you to have a table like this that matches your system. It’s very useful.

Clint Lewis
Senior Systems Engineer
ImageSource, Inc.

 

 

Support: A day in the life of.

Recently Random and I were going over our daily activities, which can include internal support, Client support, and project work, and we were discussing how scattered and at times hectic our days can end up. We put together a list of events that could happen on any given day. This shows how techs covering several duties must be able to multitask and not pull your hair out in the process.

7:50 AM -Arrive at work, boot up laptop, and prepare for another work day.

7:55 AM – Check emails that came in over the night. It looks like we received a ticket regarding a client’s Oracle IPM that had crashed and they are not sure why. They attached the log information, but it will take some further investigation to fully vet the issue. Go to get coffee and found none ready so I needed to start a pot, I’ll come back later when the coffee is done.

8:00 AM – Begin work on an internal project that I was unable to work on much yesterday. Nothing scheduled for today so I should have time to work on it and I expect to finish it by the end of the day.

8:30 AM – Support Hours start.

8:35 AM – Reviewed Oracle IPM logs from the ticket that came in last night. I called the client and was only able to leave a voice mail.

8:55 AM – Returned to work on internal project.

9:02 AM – Internal Support: Employee calls asking for help with their second monitor. They cannot get it to come up even after several reboots. Continue reading

Is It Time to Take Your Workflow In For a Checkup?

Almost every business has documents that go through some kind of work process such as expense reports and application processing that uses some kind of Business Process Management [BPM].  BPM is generally defined as a systematic approach to improving and automating an organization’s business processes and workflows.  These workflows may be core to your business process and over the years as rules, regulation, and other external factors alter the original flow it is critical to to plan on performing regularly scheduled checkups of your BPM processes.

While supporting systems that have little or no changes to their BPM workflow maps in over a decade it is very common to run into issues and complications caused by knowledge workers who have devised workarounds for changes that have occurred over time.  One of the biggest problems I see with not revisiting and performing analysis and research to get a current picture on a regular basis is User Acceptance.

When we run into this type of a situation the knowledge workers are often frustrated and highly irritated with the software and how the system works.  The user feels that their performance is based on rules and regulations that no longer apply and will complain stating “I had nothing to do with how this was configured”, “this is how we do it because it has always been like this” and “I don’t understand why we have to do it this way.”  The user is often very negative about the inefficiencies and wants to tell everyone and anyone willing to listen.  This can have an immense impact on the work environment and acceptance of your ECM system and future applications.

Where to start:  The efficient flow of documents through your organization is critical to remaining competitive and document management and workflow solutions are proven to cut cost and improve efficiencies.  If you have been using a rules based electronic workflow for over 3-5 years it is a good practice to review the “as is” state of the workflows and update them on a regular basis.  BPM workflow updates should be visible to upper management and budgeted for the future along with software upgrades.  Most importantly involve the knowledge works in the discovery and development process. “Because we have always done it this way” does not need to be the number one comment about your ECM system.  The success of BPM is rooted in starting with the right process and continuing best practices for regular checkups and maintenance.

Leigh Woody
Program Manager
ImageSource, Inc.

The System Engineer Tool Belt and Problem Solving

Quite often, System Engineers are called upon to solve unusual problems. The greater our depth of knowledge about various technologies, the greater our problem solving ability.

My primary technology tool belt consists of knowledge in document capture, business workflow, enterprise content management, web development, .NET programming and web services, ERP Accounts Payable systems, and several other useful technology tools and systems.

Recently, a customer came to ImageSource with a problem. We had taught the customer how to use the PAWSER Oracle Imaging and Process Management (IPM) web SDK capability. What PAWSER makes possible is a specially constructed URL that can securely call an IPM system and retrieve a specific stored image. The P in PAWSER stands for “public” meaning there is no need for the calling user to log in to the imaging system.

For example, consider the following URL:

http://mywebserver/IBPMExpress/External/DocumentActionProcessor.aspx?ToolName=PAWSER&SearchName=APSEARCH&CheckDate=11/18/2009
&CheckNumber=0&VendorNum=1234567&Viewer=ImagingPlugin

URL explanation:

“APSEARCH”: This is the name of the Saved Search being queried in Oracle IPM
“CheckDate”: The field being searched
“CheckNumber”: The field being searched
“VendorNum”: The field being searched
“Viewer=ImagingPlugin”: This launches the IPM viewer

In this case, the customer was dynamically constructing this url in a J.D. Edwards WORLD ERP system to retrieve an image related to an invoice screen. The problem is that the WORLD environment only allows 123 maximum characters for the URL string. The required URL for the call has more characters than that.

So stop here, don’t look below. How would you solve the URL length problem?
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