On-Demand Webinar

How to Modernize Forms Automation for Big Impact

July 28, 2021


Within organizations today, forms automation is widely used in customer presentable document creation and delivery, and in web browser-based user and customer input forms and workflows. And while requirements have changed dramatically in the last few years, the technology has not always kept pace. Companies today need technology that is easy-to-use and expandable to work with all systems—no matter the platform they are working with.

Watch this on-demand webinar to learn two key areas of forms automation that will make the biggest impact in your business and discover how HelpSystems Forms Automation technology can support you.


Welcome everyone today's webinar, my name is Greg Schmidt. I'll be the presenter for today's webinar and today's topic is how to modernize forms, automation for big impact or what I like to call the two faces of forms management. Within organizations today, forms automation is widely used in customer presentable document creation and delivery processes and in web browser-based user and customer input forms and workflows. And a key thing that I just said in the last sentence is workflows, being able to enforce how data is being captured and approved in your organization is key to businesses today. And while requirements have been dramatically changing in the last few years, the technology has not always kept pace with some of the fast-changing requirements. Companies today need technology that is easy to use and expandable to work with all systems, no matter what platform they are working with or working on. So today you will learn two key areas of forms automation that will make the biggest impact for your business and discover how HelpSystems forms automation technology and help support you in those efforts of automation of your forms processes.

My name is Greg Schmidt again, I'm a senior solutions engineer here at HelpSystems. I'm a 20 plus year veteran in the data document forms and process automation with specialties in the document informed automation and business intelligence areas. I have been helping companies automate their business and data processes and streamlining their troublesome and often cumbersome business processes with technology and strategic planning for digital transformation for over those 20 plus years now. I also help guide companies and best practices of implementation and solution expansion within organizations. I also have over a decades worth of experience in the IBMI report and data distribution and robotic process automation technology areas.

Onto today's agenda. I'm going to start with a quick overview of all the areas that we can help with within the document and forms automation brand, and then move into the main topic for today, how to modernize forms automation for the biggest impact. Most of this presentation I'll be doing live and showcasing some examples of input forms and then also output forms. And then I'll finish up with some Q and A at the end, if time permits. Feel free to enter your questions into the chat window and I will address them towards the end of the webinar, if time allows. Please select all presenters, so all the questions are directed towards me, and I'll also plan to complete the session in about 30 minutes so you have plenty of time to make your next important meeting. Also, today's event is being recorded and you'll receive a link after the webinar to share with anyone in the organization that could not attend today's session or if you'd like to rewatch this topic later.

We have been helping companies for over a decade, for decades now on their digital transformation automation journey. Our mission is helping streamline the way companies create, capture, and securely manage and distribute their business documents, processes, and business data inside and outside the organization.

We have a variety of solutions in the four key business areas that can help you at every step of your digital transformation journey from secure document and workflow management of your IBMI reports and company documents... Intelligent forms and workflow management, to start the process of working beyond the paper in your organization and start to enforce not just the data collection, but also the workflow that is required. And this is one of those topics that we'll be talking about today in the two faces of forms management.

Accounts receivable automation, this is where we can help with the document generation process, all the way to delivery and the secure storage and access. And this would also be the other topic that we're talking about today. And last of all, accounts payable automation. We have created four packages as of today that we can help you at every step of your AP automation journey from interactive processing to fully automated captured processes. For decades now, we've been helping companies with their automation processes of the accounts payable, is one of the largest ones, but also that accounts receivable processes that you might be running either natively on the IBMI or other platforms such as Windows or Linux.

Now when it comes to forms management, there are two main areas to this category, web based data collection forms, or what I like to call input forms for today and customer presentable forms that are created with your business systems data, which I'll refer to today as output forms. Input forms for companies are not uncommon. You might be using a form on your website to gather customer information and requests. You might even be using a survey software that you send out to customers or employees to gather data back to the organization. Some companies have online sales order forms or RMA return forms for products... Or you might even have built a custom form interface to your ERP or CRM system who make the gathering of data easier. As for the output forms, all companies have forms and documents that they generate to send the customers, like invoices, statements, letters, bill of ladings, pack slips, order acknowledgement processes, and stuff like that.

Or you might even be using the forms automation software, creation software using AFP creation. So this has something that we can help replace since the AFP is actually is not supported by IBMI anymore. So if you're running a native solution, a form solution, we can actually help you with some of those. And you'll see some of the differences inside of our solution being database driven and also spool file driven kind of processes.

Help systems here, we have those two solutions that we'll be talking about today. So the user based data collection forms, and like I said, the big part of this is not just the data collection part of it, but the workflow enforcement around that process to be able to gather that data in the right way. And then document creation assembly process, the output forms with your business data, so being able to create those invoices and stuff like that from those different kinds of data points that you might have.

Really quickly, before I get into the live demonstration, here's just examples of input forms. Some used cases of input forms and then some used cases of output forms, order forms, purchase orders, human resources, onboarding processes. And we'll look at a couple of these here today in the live demonstration. Credit applications, data collection forms only, so some of them might just be, "Hey, collect the data, but don't do nothing else with those forms afterwards, just push the data to the system or to a database." So there's many different user scenarios inside of those input forms. And you'll see a little bit today on those as well. Output forms, big ones are like I said, purchase orders, invoicing, bill of lading, pack slips, van ship notice, insurance documents, letter generation, and even shipping labels. This is just a short list. You'll see in my demonstration here today, if I open up my demo folder, we have hundreds and hundreds of examples out there. There's nothing that it can't be used for on both sides and the input forms and also the output forms process.

Now from an input forms standpoint, sort of how it works with the ERP system, right? So you have your ERP system, you have your front end of the forms, mostly that people are using to be able to input data and create, get that data to be able to create those documents on the back end with the output form process. So you can sort of have that two-stage kind of effect inside of there. Now from a forms management standpoint on the input forms standpoint, you want to make sure that the technology you're using is easy to use, right? So the forms management has an easy to create forms with a nice Wysiwyg editor, drag and drop features. Inside of ours, we have reusable controls and also built-in business logic editor inside of there where you can create business logic inside of there without having to do any coding. And that's the whole key to this is the citizen developer interfaces to be able to do this stuff without having to have that coding capability inside of there.

Secure forms and document management workflow, being able to enforce those workflow processes and also that business rules engine inside of there as well. And then the back end of that, to be able to securely manage those documents out at version control, those inside of the system completely as well. Here's just a little example or a process overview of this is one of the year piece systems that we, one of our partners that we work with and they actually, the onboarding process, right? So they want to be able to do a customer onboarding process, to be able to onboard a customer, be able to interact with their system, but then also enforce a workflow process behind that step. And then at the end of that process, push that information into the web doc system. Then also that data will update into their ERP system. So no one has to do re entry of that information.

Workflow is a big part of this. So being able to have forms based workflow process that you can fill out a form, get signatures, get approvals on. And then at the end of that process, create a PDF and then push those documents into secure repository. And then also that mixture, which makes us a little different in the industry here is to be able to mix that document processing there as well. So if you, once you create that forms process, you can actually invoke a document workflow process in the secure archive side of things.

All right, I'm going to do a live demonstration here. I'm just going to go into the, what we call our forms management system here. To sort of show you a couple of different things here quickly, but the first thing I want to show you is the capability through the web interface, right? So being able to log in depending on your security, and I'm logging here as a user first that needs to do approval. So it's, from an approval standpoint, I can approve documents and do everything from the same interface that I can create forms from. It's all dependent on your security inside the system. So in this case here, this is more of a something that's inside of a process already that I need to do a workflow approval on. So here I can add information or update information if I need to and stuff through here.

So if this was a purchase order or in this case, it's onboarding process or a file approval, kind of a thing, you could do that right through this interface. Now from a design standpoint, we have that designer capability, right? So depending on your authority inside the system, if I have deployment capability or creation capability, I can create and do different things with the forms inside of here. So a very, very powerful piece of the system here is to be able to set up those different securities for those different users. And this will allow us to either have, or allow you to have IT deploy the solution, and then also be managed by other maybe departments inside of the organization that might want to create their own workflows and old processes.

You'll see, inside of this list, there's a lot of different kinds of forms that we can do inside of here. I have some HIPAA medical forms in here. I have some healthcare patient dispute claim forms inside of here. I have some onboarding forms. I have some educational forms inside of here, but there's a lot of different kinds of forms that you can do inside of your POS and stuff like that, database driven kinds of forms. Today I'm going to show you a couple here, the first one I want to show you is an employee onboarding application, right? So an employee onboarding application, this case has multiple forms attached to it. So you can have multiple forms that individuals might have to fill out. With inside of those forms, that when I create those different forms, so I can actually, in this case here, test these different forms inside of our interface, and you'll see here is my sample, where I have some required information through the test interface.

And you'll see here through the test interface, I have capability to deploy this form one time, but this form is going to work on all different kinds of devices from desktop or laptop to a tablet or even a smartphone inside of here. So we can actually use that form and then you can create those forms inside of here too using the visual editor inside of here. And this is all drag and drop capability. So you can drag and drop these different components inside of here to be able to create these forms and then be able to edit the different kinds of properties on each of the different actions without having to do any programming. So very nice and very easy interface to be able to say, "Hey, I need to drag an email address in here," or do something inside here with an email address. I can drag that in here and then configure it if that's required or if I need some help or hint text on that, to be able to process that a little bit, or have the users process that a little bit easier.

To bounce back here really quick. So from a flow standpoint, I want to get into here to show you the flows. So the flows are workflows, right? So being able to take those processes or forms, and then string them together inside of a workflow so different individuals can fill them out during this process. So being able to say, "Hey, here's the employee information form, personal allowance, I-9s, confirmations, HR review process inside of here, so we can put a form in for that. So we can create those and trigger those inside of here." Now we can also trigger like different things like escalation. So if you want to set up escalations, if something doesn't get done in a certain amount of time, we can escalate those things during that process and go through the different steps here. I'm going to launch this one to sort of show you this here real quick. Run this in test mode so you can see this. So in this case here, I'm just going to enter in my name. I can require certain information to be filled in here.

And then the only thing that's required here is my signature. So I'm going to put my signature on this so you can see this... And then you can have some different questions that you ask people inside of this process. And then you can hit the next button. That's going to go through the different steps and ask you different questions that you want to do. Maybe I want to put inside of here, how many dependents I have and see what you're eligible for. And then I can go fill out the I-9 information. That's going to pass information along as I'm going through. And then this confirmation piece here is basically just allowing me to, from a legal standpoint, I need to be able to see the document that I'm filling. So in this case here, I'm filling a government compliant document in the background.

So I need to be able to show them that document with that information as I'm filling that form out during this process. So this will allow them to be able to see that information as you're going through that process, allows them to confirm that information inside of here. And then in this case here, submit to HR. And for demo purposes, I just got this going through the same users, so you can sort of see this from this process here, but this will allow them to be able to have some kind of little checklist to be able to confirm this information. And that's the end of this process, sign it by pushing a button. So there's two different kinds of signatures, wet signature, or ink signature, where you can actually sign it with the device or a user ID and password based signature, to be able to finish that process off by pushing a button with their authentication information.

So pretty easy to be able to see some of that information there. From that standpoint, inside the system. Now from a forms management standpoint, that's one forms management standpoint, the documents can go to the system and go through those different processes at that point. Again, we have a ton of different options inside the system and that we can show you. So if you want to see more on this portion, you'll feel free to set up a demo in live demonstration and we can go through that different kinds of processes or more examples that you want to see inside of your process as well. Now, from an output standpoint, the output forms are the other side, right? So the input form is inputting data and document creation standpoint at the beginning of a process usually. And then at the outside of that is the output form is generating the back end of those documents then at that point, right?

So taking customer data that's inside the year P or presentable data, or presenting that data in a nice business fashion, like bill of ladings and check printing and label printing, invoices, and stuff like that, to be able to process through.Now, the document creation portion does have a couple of different document creation and document assembly functions. So if you're using AFP and different kinds of technology like that today, or the forms packages out there that are windows based or IBMI based, we can actually run natively on the I or run in a Windows application mode or mixed mode functionality inside of there so we can take IBMI spool files. We can connect to any database or agnostic at the database level. We can work with text files, XML, CSV, all that good stuff from there as well, and then create those nice, pretty looking customer presentable forms to be able to do distribution on those forms and email them and put them into a network folder, print them, or if you would like, we also have that document repository piece that I was talking about where you can automatically push those into the repository after emailing them or printing them for your customers.

You do have those different options there.

All right, let me switch over here. [inaudible 00:19:17] a live demonstration of this, get this all out of the way here. Sorry about that. So this is the creation portion of it, right? So of the output of forms. So there's sort of two steps. The first is create the form and then the second step is put the data into the form. So in this case, here from a form standpoint, I can create the, I'll call it the, the pretty looking form portion of it, right? Meaning that I can create the visual standpoint, right? So, and I also have mine already mapped in here with my data layer in here, but I can create the name fields, address fields, put the logos in here, put bar codes and stuff inside of here, create these different neon and pretty little sections inside the form to be able to do different things and to show different things inside here.So it's really nice to be able to have those notes with the capability, to be able to put static or dynamic information in there, check boxes and different things like that, if there's user interaction that's needed from the printed document standpoint. So you can do those different functions inside of your using any of these visual editors and tools and stuff like that. So if you want to put like a bars and graphs or sub reports or anything like that, I can, we have bars and, charting utility inside of here where you put these nice little, pretty charts and graphs and stuff inside of there to be able to chart some data out on the form that might be coming from either a school file or might be coming from a database instead in some cases.

So we do have that capability directly in the forms application there. Now the really cool thing about the forms application I'm going to talk about in a second here, I'm going to talk about data coming into the form, but I want to start to show you the end result here quick, we have a really cool editor capability or a display capability where I can execute with an empty data source just to see what it looks like without any data into it. Or maybe I already have the data mapped into it. I want to see what it looks like with the data in it already at this point. So in this case here, I can actually exit, hit that little play button up there with that data source and actually see that form with the data in it, to see if everything lines up and it's the way I want it to look... A really easy way to be able to test it and edit those different kinds of forms.

Now from a form such as forms design is done through this interface here, and then a couple of different things for mapping. So databases, I can map the database, we have a database wizard, we're database agnostic, so we can actually connect to any kind of database that you want through, if as long as it has a driver to that database and you have access to that database, and then you can also query that database and query for that information. And you're using it, your standard SQL information to be able to query and pull that data in. So you do have that capability there from that standpoint... That could be DB two databases, that could be Microsoft SQL databases. That could be MySQL Oracle, doesn't really make a difference from that database side. So you can actually query and do different things like that from this side.

Now for this full file driven, we have our own spool file. I formed text layer designer that allows you to browse, I'll put queues so you can actually browse and I'll put queues on the IBMI. We can look at that and download that IBMI information or a spool file in this case into our text layer designer. And then we can put documents over the top or put extraction templates over the top of it. So I'm going to open this template up I already have designed here. And basically what you're doing here is using this add field option here to drop boxes over the top of the data that you want to extract, and then giving that data field a field name inside of here. And what that's allowing you to do is once you're done with this, allows you to save it and then import it into the designer.

And that designer now gives you the capability to drag and drop those different fields. That from that attraction template into the forms design. The very easy way to be able to process those different kinds of forms fields into the original output form structure. One of the things inside of here too, I don't think I said, but dynamic information too. So, now this is stat. This'll be static information into those cause we're dragging fields into it, but you might have dynamic information. So being able to use, we have like what we would call an expression editor so we can put expressions inside of here. That might be static information, text formatting information. So if you see a negative number, you might want it red. If the logo flip-flops because of a date or something like that, we can do different things like that from the form stamp.

To deploy these forms, we do have a deployment manager inside of here. So in the iForm server, we have the templates option and you can deploy to different kinds of environments that you have set up in the system. So we can have different systems inside of your development production, and tasks and stuff like that, and deploy those to those individual isolated servers instances on the server to be able to use those in different kinds of manners. So you have different ways to be able to interact with that process.

All right, just so we don't run out of time here. I know we have about five minutes left or a little bit less than five minutes and take a little time for some Q and A now. I could spend hours and hours showing you guys forms management stuff there from both sides, those input forms and output forms. So feel free again. I'll say this in a little bit here again, but feel free to contact us and then schedule a live demonstration to go through a little bit differently or a little bit more in depth, I'll say, and show you some other options and stuff like that. Or even go through your scenario and what you're doing today and how we can help you in those different scenarios. If it's, "Hey, you're not doing any, nothing at all," or "I want to replace what I'm currently doing, because it's not powerful enough for what we need," right?So we have those different options here that we can help you with. Okay, let me see if there's any questions here. There are a few questions, like more than a few, actually. Let's see if I can get to them, like a few of these here. It's basically asking, there's a couple of questions. It looks like the same or close to the same. It's like, "How is it priced on the forms creation standpoint?" So both solutions, input and output are, there's no limit to how many forms you can create. So there's no limit to that at all from that standpoint. On the output form of what we call the iForm document creation side, there's no limit to how many designers you can have. You can install as many designers you have, same way with the input forms with the web docs forms, management portion of it. With the web-based forms, any user that's inside the system can have that capability to be able to create those different forms inside of there.

All right and I think I answered this question earlier, but I'll just make sure here, "What kind of databases can you work with both solutions?" So both solutions are database agnostic, again, so as long as you have a driver for those databases and access to those databases, you can access the data, the information through the forms and have a forms processes there.

Let's see... "How has the software deployed?" So the software is deployed on premise. So both solutions, it's an on-premise solution. So you would install them either like on the iForm side, that the document creation portion of it, you would install that either natively on the IBMI or the Windows side, and then for the web docs forms management that does require a Windows server, but then can connect to the DB two databases and other kinds of systems that you might have out there as well.

There's some pricing questions here. I'm going to leave that for, for someone to follow up with. I am not the pricing guy. You do not want me talking about pricing on the technical side, and there's a reason for it.

All right. I think I'm going to stop there for the questions here today, since we're just about out of time here, there's still a ton of great questions out there. For the questions that I did not answer here today, we will follow up with after the webinar here. So, be aware that we will be following up with you with those questions that were submitted with answers to those different questions here.

All right here, thanks for everyone for attending today. We hope you learned some helpful information on how to modernize forms automation for big impact and how the web docs forms management and the iForm document creation can help you on that document forms management journey. If you have any additional questions or would like to schedule that free consultation or demo, feel free to contact [inaudible 00:28:55] or directly reach out to myself. You'll also receive a link to this webinar, a recorded link so that you can send to anyone that could not attend today's session, or if you would like to rewatch that at a later time. Thanks everyone for attending today's webinar and hope you found this information useful. Have a great day and enjoy the rest of your week.


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