Ask anyone who’s been researching document management software: This is no longer a conversation about forms printing or how to access spool files and convert them to Excel spreadsheets. It’s much more than that. It’s about integration with multiple systems, multiple delivery channels, and multiple workflow processes. It’s not just about spool files anymore.
Symtrax, a company that’s cultivated an IBM midrange business for more than 25 years, has evolved much like the AS/400 has evolved into the IBM i. “Our evolution is still on the IBM i platform,” says Kirk Fackre, director of enterprise solutions at Symtrax, “but it has other ways of talking with the application layer rather than relying on spool files.”
Fackre spoke with IT Jungle about the recently released version of its document management software called Compleo, which was recently updated with new integrations, additional Web services, and improved performance.
Now at version 6.6, the Compleo Suite has expanded its features to include the capability for PDF documents to be modified and/or signed by users; the capability to determine if the recipient servers have refused emails previously sent with SMTP, ensure that messages were received and correct emails that are invalid; and the extended integration with Microsoft Dynamic 365 CRM.
These are features, Fackre says, that are being requested by new Compleo users and prospects, as well as customers that represent the IBM i portion of the Symtrax installed base.
“There are IBM i customers moving to SAP and Dynamics running on a non-i platform,” points out Rich Basile, a solutions consultant with Symtrax. “SAP and Microsoft Dynamics are not the most efficient and effective document-creating solutions. It’s a customer problem we identified. We already solved this problem for the IBM i customers we have, so we believe we are capable of solving this problem for non-IBM i companies as well.”
General ledger data becomes easier to read and understand using Compleo –the example on the right.
Symtrax is on a quarterly release cycle of upgrades to Compleo, which unleashed its 6.0 release in March 2015. Major releases of Compleo are scheduled at three-year intervals.
Expanded integration with SAP and Dynamics has led the enhancements for the past 2.5 years, with Web services as a key technology in the transition from a reliance on spool files and low-level integration with printing.
Spool files are hard coded. Therefore, changing a spool file requires some level of coding, Basile explains. “Now we are talking to the application database level. This is a ‘digital conversation’ rather than grabbing a spool file and printing it out. The first iteration of this came with Compleo 6. Since then, we’ve added more connectors (SAP and Dynamics) for greater integration. Web services, introduced at the 6.6 release, gives us a wider range of digital conversations with applications.”
“Now we take in information from other systems and we’re broadening our document strategy,” Fackre says. “Our focus is to take data, improve it and deliver it.”
Improving workflow processes is practically a universal software claim. In the document management field, improving invoice collection rates is a benefit that gets the attention of C-level decision makers. Printed invoices, although still widely used, are losing favor. Converting paper documents to PDFs and emailing them was the first step in digital document management.
But the capability to deliver a document as a GUID link is the document distribution enhancement that offers the best workflow management, Fackre says.
“We see a lot of our installed base parse spools to do Excel reports, other internal reports, and deliver customer communications such as invoices,” he says. “They want to get rid of printing and faxing. The GUID link has advantages on the inbound and outbound sides. A PDF could add a couple of MBs to the email. So, by eliminating the PDF, the load on the email server is less.
You also get an audit trail when a customer opens a link. That’s valuable when tracking opened and unopened invoices and we’ve seen customers use it for product recalls as well.”
The capability to provide links to a document was introduced in Compleo 6.5. Because Compleo supports various delivery methods, some of its users allow their customers to choose the deliver method — print, fax, email PDFs, or email links to documents.
The Compleo Suite consists of modules for layout and design of documents; the conversion of documents to business reports; the conversion of documents to XML files; the automation of document administration; the integration of applications originating from IBM i, IBM mainframe, SAP, and Microsoft Outlook and Office; and the capability to monitor and supervise documents through Web and mobile interfaces.