Printing Case Histories
Printing to the Web
While reporting and enterprise printing are essential to communicating information, they are expensive and time-consuming processes. Business applications generate daily, weekly and monthly reports that are automatically sent to the printer. These reports are usually re-keyed into spreadsheets, stored, stacked and thrown away. In order to minimize the wastefulness and expense of enterprisewide printing and maximize the information contained in reports, companies and federal agencies are looking to the Web to handle their enterprisewide "print" requirements.
In large organizations, print jobs are routed from the host to high-end printers at remote sites; however, the work doesn’t end there. Reports must be parsed, sorted and distributed. Users spend time leafing through reports searching for the pertinent data and inputting the information into desktop applications. If a report is lost or needs to be accessed in the future, the whole process has to start all over again.
North to Alaska
For the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in Alaska, enterprisewide printing was an extended procedure resulting in a week and a half delay to receive reports. This data was needed to communicate the finance and accounting information necessary for agencies to budget appropriately, track spending and work on current projects. The BIA provides services to approximately 1.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, who are members of more than 557 federally recognized Indian tribes in the 48 contiguous United States and in Alaska where almost half of the tribes are located. The BIA is the only Department of the Interior (DOI) agency that provides the same kinds of services one expects from a city, county or state, such as transportation, grant management, law enforcement, social services, education, and much more.
Two mainframes – one in Albuquerque, N.M., and one in Reston, Va. – run the Federal Finance System (FFS) for the Department of the Interior (DOI) which generate the greenbar reports for the BIA. These reports were routed to an IBM 6260 printer in Juneau, Alaska, where they were printed multiple times, manually parsed and mailed to remote office branches.
The printing delay came to the forefront when the transportation group, which works on assignments for building anything from roads to bridges to sidewalks, needed to trace all expenses for each project. The BIA 100M report tracks all monthly financial transactions for the BIA-Alaska. The transportation group uses this 400-page report to locate expenditures for everything from the planning stages to design to implementation of the transportation development. The average contract is about $10 million dollars and lasts about eight years with over 20 contracts open at one time. This means that for BIA personnel to track years of expenditures for a specific project, they would have to search through reams and reams of greenbar paper.
Niles Cesar, Area Director of the Juneau Area Office, knew there had to be an alternative to their current enterprise printing of greenbar reports to provide more timely and more functional access to information.
Printing to the Web
The BIA Juneau Area Office turned to the Web to answer their enterprise printing problems. By implementing Report.Web, an intranet solution that converts host files into a Web-accessible format, reports are now accessed from a standard Web browser. Arlington, Virginia-based Network Software Associates, the developer of Report.Web, provides Internet and intranet solutions that connect legacy or ERP hosts to the Web. Using an LPD client, BIA-Alaska routes mainframe reports to Report.Web running on a Windows NT server. Users are notified via e-mail when reports are available, and access is secured by username and password. Micheal Cropley, MIS manager at BIA-Alaska says, "We chose Report.Web because it exceeded everything that we expected. With the same amount of effort on training, just one person could provide access to all program managers."
By implementing Report.Web, the BIA-Alaska is saving about 200 hours a week on their project management. "User response has been very positive," says Cropley. During the pilot phase of Report.Web, a frustrated user had spent over 45 minutes looking for a piece of information from a hardcopy FFS report. When he still hadn’t found what he was looking for, it was a perfect opportunity to test the abilities of the proposed report distribution system. By doing a keyword search within the report, the elusive information was found in seconds.
The biggest time saver for report users was the ability to access the same IBM mainframe file as a desktop spreadsheet. As part of the one time set-up of Report.Web, models are created to extract report data to a spreadsheet application. BIA-Alaska looked into Monarch as a data mining tool. Report.Web uses Monarch functionality as part of their complete solution to automate the conversion of text to Excel. "With the work of just one person the effect would be immediate throughout all of the branches," says Cropley. The same users searching through stacks of greenbar paper to track expenditures on their transportation projects, can now access this information as an Excel file by clicking on a hyperlink in their browser.
Printing to the Web is helping BIA-Alaska recover millions of dollars. Every time the BIA issues a contract or grant, and only a portion of the contract or grant is used, the remaining balance is called an Undelivered Order. The DOI has asked the BIA to turn all undelivered orders to a zero dollar balance. Millions of dollars exist on these contracts and grants. The BIA130S report tracks all Undelivered Orders. By accessing the BIA 130S through Report.Web, program managers can easily manage grant disbursement, thus enabling them to know how much money is owed.
Security First IVR
At Security First Group (SFG), redefining customer service means linking computer software and telephone technologies to automate responses to clients’ requests for information. Security First Group has integrated Cincom’s AuroraDS document preparation and production software with the Periphonics Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to process customer information requests automatically as a result of customer phone calls.
Cincom Systems’ AuroraDS Text (formerly known as M/Textª) is the engine behind SFG’s new automated document generation process – driven by customer input through the IVR menu choices. AuroraDS Text software executes built-in logic to dynamically create loan documents, statements of account, and other customer-requested information, merging collected data from the IVR with information from the mainframe database. This new process automates calculations, improves accuracy, enhances customer service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and decreases document turnaround time – all while lowering costs for the company.
Security First Group has also freed call center representatives from having to deal with labor-intensive calculations and document preparation. Call center representatives are now able to devote their time and attention to assist other clients on the phones.
Security First Group (SFG) is a leading provider of tax-deferred annuities for retirement savings and investing, specializing in the design and servicing of tax advantaged retirement plans for employees of educational institutions and not-for-profit organizations. SFG, headquartered in Los Angeles, has adopted an Interactive Voice Response system to help manage nearly 120,000 pension plan participants, and give customers 24-hour access to account information. Since they could get that from their banks, they wanted it from Security First Group.
"There was a need for us to implement an IVR system to keep up with our competitors," said Denise Basey, Director of Pension Administration for SFG. "Currently, during a typical week, our group processes more than 3,000 calls, and that’s a fraction of the overall call volume handled by the system. Our present call volume is due partly to the growth we’ve enjoyed and partly to the convenience the system has provided to participants by allowing them to call at any time, without having to access a person to satisfy their inquiry."
SFG sought a way to streamline the resource-intensive process through which the company was processing loan applications. "We were receiving hundreds of requests per week and the numbers were increasing," said Kurt Schmidt, Business Process Consultant. "This process took a great deal of time because we had to load data into a system, prepare documents, print and collate the material. Our Customer Service staff had to calculate the maximum amount available for a loan and the estimated payment amount. We also wanted to include some additional information about deadlines for processing and other application tips. We felt that this needed to be automated and that we could get more use from our Integrated Voice Response system."
By linking its Periphonics’ IVR system to AuroraDS Text software, SFG is now able to merge data from its mainframe with data entered by clients through the IVR. The software handles the necessary calculations and creates and prints the correct terms and payment information on the newly generated loan documents.
"We could not find anyone else using this solution. We were the first to expand the use of a document creation and production system to provide data from a mainframe merged with calculated values and text, all triggered by a customer’s phone call," Schmidt explained.
"If customers want to borrow money against an existing 401(k) or 403(b) plan, they simply call in and select the appropriate options, like amount of loan and payback period, using the interactive system," Schmidt added. "AuroraDS then generates a complete, customized loan package, including all the necessary forms, documents, attachments, amortization schedules, etc. When the customer returns the package, we process the loan, again using AuroraDS to issue the required paperwork to finalize the transaction."
SFG creates loan packages made up of many documents, including amortization schedules for up to 15 years paid semimonthly. These packages include up to 361 occurrences with seven variable fields for each, requiring up to six pages of output, consisting only of variable data. More than 900 loan packages are processed through IVR each month.
Today, the system benefits about 80,000 participants. Schmidt said that even employees use the system rather than try to create packages manually.
"We have saved time both in preparation of the documents and in processing customer loan information – but, more importantly, we have dramatically increased the service we offer our participants," said Schmidt. "They now have the ability to model different loan terms, and make a selection, and instantly receive confirmation that their package is on its way. The fact that they can access the system at any time is a real benefit."
Security First’s call volume is supported by a Periphonics VPS 9000 system configured with 24 ports connected to incoming T1 trunks. The system accesses an MVS-based host running CICS applications and prints to two Xerox 4090 printers.
SFG has achieved dramatic improvements in productivity using AuroraDS Text to manage sophisticated document creation, production, and assembly requirements. Using AuroraDS Text, millions of pages per month are generated in the form of personalized certificates, contracts, letters, confirmations to agents, internal documents, state-specific forms, guarantee association notices, special disclosures, loan documents and promissory notes.
"We generate new policies for a vast array of unique products, all of which have many potential variations depending on the policy’s complexity and the regulatory requirements. Not only that, we are contractually obligated to be able to issue replacement policies for all plans," explains Schmidt.
SFG now maintains more than 2700 document models on AuroraDS. Each of these models includes the information and rules needed to generate the options and variations that are required.
"Our customers continually look to us to provide more flexible products and features to meet their changing requirements," said Schmidt. "In many cases, we’re exceeding their expectations because we have the ability to be proactive and responsive."