Development Mindset when utilizing ILINX eForms

Those familiar with software development should know the Waterfall software development methodology very well. For those who don’t, it’s basically this:
1. Perform discovery/gather requirements
2. Build out the solution based on the requirements provided
3. Perform User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
4. Correct issues found during testing and resubmit for UAT
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 as necessary
6. When the solution is accepted, prepare to move it into Production and do so
7. Support as necessary post-Production deployment

As a rule, we try to stay close to this approach when working through customer engagements, and regardless of the product we’re implementing it usually works very well. Continue reading

Expanded Logging for LiquidOffice eForms

If you have ever been tasked with administrating or monitoring eForms and processes published by Autonomy Process Administration (formerly known as LiquidOffice), the default events leave a bit to be desired.

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One Way ILINX® Manages Compound Documents

As part of the ECM industry, it is important to understand what compound documents are and how they affect you.  Compound documents have been an issue in ECM software from the beginning of time. According to wiseGEEK, Compound documents are document files that contain several different types of data as well as text. A compound document may include graphics, spreadsheets, images, or any other non-text data. The additional data may be embedded into the document or be linked data that is resident within the application. You may be asking what that means for you? We all know that basic ECM is scan/store/retrieve, but what happens when you add electronic documents in PDF or MS Word?

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eForms 101 part 2

A short while ago I wrote a blog entitled eForms 101…and I’d like to continue on the theme. I mentioned some of the main advantages of eForms – that they save money, are green, fast, accurate, malleable – and thus they improve customer service.

One of the real values of eForm use is that it can be coupled with a workflow. When a paper form arrives there is lots of processing time. Routing the form electronically takes a fraction of the time it takes to physically route paper. And tracking the progress of a routed paper form is slow and can be frustrating. Think of the last time you had to call a long chain of people looking for a piece of paper any of them may or may not have — woof. Again, an eForm that has been routed electronically using a workflow is easy to check up on. No calls. Just view the progress map and you can see who’s got the ball. And parallel workflow routing offers a way to speed up routing exponentially over physical counterpart processes. If an item is stuck in a queue or inbox too long, it can trigger alerts or can be automatically routed for processing. If I am the customer who submitted information to a company, that’s how I want my info taken care of!

In terms of return on investment (ROI), labor costs are obviously reduced because it is now quicker to locate a form, get it approved, share it widely or launch it through a specialized review path, etc. But beyond this is the less tangible benefit of making employees more productive overall. And the fact that ALL the ‘i’s are dotted and the ‘t’s are crossed with alacrity and quality control contributes greatly to improved decision making.

Now some thoughts on how to get going quickly. If this is an initial foray into eForms and workflows, I suggest the paper process to be replaced is simple and well understood. Paper forms can be reproduced electronically verbatim, so filling the form will be instantly intuitive to the user. Focus on high volume forms to cost justify the endeavor. If your goal is to take a process to the extreme in automation, be sure to take a phased approach. Basic form and workflow capabilities must come first, and must work perfectly. A tool always worth mentioning to get eForms up and running fast is Texcel FormBridge. Using a per page licensing fee, this tool allows you to convert paper or TIFs, or flat PDFs into eForms for a variety of products. What’s the big deal? Well, scan in a paper form filled with fields and watch FormBridge work. It identifies automagically where the fields go, and what their titles are. The eForm looks like the input form, nicely formatted. All the text in the form is editable – including field titles. And the same is true with all those scattered myriad rows of checkboxes. They are all converted to eForm checkboxes with proper labels. From paper to LiquidOffice eForm in the blink of an eye.

After you get a chance to review the business benefits of eForms in your organization, time to ask :

  • Where is your organization right now on the paperless scale?
  • Is paper use on the rise?
  • Are services that impact customer satisfaction stalled due to cumbersome paper processes?
  • Has your existing eForm initiative lost any momentum?

ImageSource is staffed to help you, with industry veterans including: Systems Engineers, Support Engineers, Developers, Project Managers, Sales Staff, and Senior Managers.

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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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

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.

Making TeleForm and LiquidOffice Work Together

Scanning and capturing data via OCR can save lots of time over manual indexing.  Linking these same forms and metadata to an eForm workflow process takes it all to the next level of efficiency – processes that took hours and days can be reduced to minutes or seconds.  Using out-of-the-box connectors and settings, form templates that were created in Cardiff TeleForm can be exported to Cardiff LiquidOffice.  With a given form residing in both LiquidOffice and TeleForm, capture choices are broadened and the benefits of workflow are easily in reach.

Here’s how it is done.  TeleForm forms can be saved in a file exchange format that LiquidOffice Designer can read.  Once a TeleForm form is complete and tested, it is ready to go.  The form can be a traditional form that was created from scratch in TeleForm Designer, or it can be an ‘existing form’ created initially outside of TeleForm.  These forms then have TeleForm fields placed in appropriate data entry locations.

Once exported to the file exchange format, the file can be opened in LiquidOffice Designer.  It will look just like the TeleForm form.  An important step here is to save the file to the native LiquidOffice .XFM file format, then close LiquidOffice Designer.  Reopen LiquidOffice Designer and open the .XFM file – this quick step ensures the form can be previewed as an HTML or PDF form, or published to the LiquidOffice server, without error.  The fields in LiquidOffice retain important settings that were created in TeleForm such as field name, maximum length, and valid entry characters. If the form is a traditional TeleForm form, ID and reference marks can be optionally retained.  (This allows a LiquidOffice user to fill a form, print it, and fax or scan it in TeleForm.)

Now that we have identical forms in TeleForm and LiquidOffice, TeleForm can be configured to export metadata to LiquidOffice.   Open the TeleForm form in Designer and add the included LiquidOffice Export connect agent.  When configuring this connect agent, you supply the LiquidOffice form GUID or workflow process GUID.  The GUID uniquely identifies the form or process, and can be located via the LiquidOffice Management Console.   You also identify the LiquidOffice Virtual Submit Directory and routing information.  Since TeleForm can have many export agents attached to it, any current export may also be retained – they will coexist without complaint.

When the form is processed in TeleForm – scanned, faxed, or even created using TeleForm Verifier’s NonForm Data Entry feature, the form will appear in the appropriate inbox or queue in LiquidOffice – filled and ready for approval, ad-hoc routing, or workflow processing.  Now that the form exists in LiquidOffice, you may also direct users to fill the forms directly from LiquidOffice when appropriate, bypassing TeleForm altogether.  The form now has grown wings and is ready to fly.