Source Technologies Brings E-Forms to AS/400

Source Technologies (Charlotte, N.C), a provider of MICR printers, electronic forms, and specialty inkjet solutions, has released a graphical e-forms version of its electronic forms software, FormsPartner for AS/400 environments. The new design integrates easily with the AS/400environment, providing users with a Windows NT-based forms program that uses standard laser printers.

FormsPartner features a merge and print engine that enables centralized forms design and the creation of electronic forms by experts and non-technical users alike. This allows management to reduce costs and improve security by eliminating the need for preprinted forms, such as blank check stock. Users need only print what is immediately required.

“Using preprinted forms and the workflow behind those is a huge challenge to a lot of organizations. We know how to solve that. Other manufacturers of e-forms are trying to do either too little or too much with the application,” says John Spencer, executive VP and head of Printware Solutions, the e-forms division of Source Technologies. “A lot of customers find us attractive because we’re not trying to move them light years in a short amount of time and completely change their business model and the way they do business. We’re just helping automate a paper procedure right now that will save them money and give them a hard ROI. That’s why people do business with us.

“The biggest benefit of the FormsPartner application is the built-in wizard that walks a non-technical user through all the necessary steps to build an electronic forms applications. Novices can easily design a form, parse a data file, then distribute that form throughout their enterprise,” he adds.

For customers that have more complex needs, a programmer savvy in scripting or Visual Basic can create a variety of individual applications in FormsPartner. “For example, we have a customer that has a product description field, but also wants to include a UPC barcode,” says Spencer. “The UPC field information isn’t in the description data, but can easily be added by just using a VB script ‘include’ statement in the FormsPartner application to make it very powerful and customized.”

FormsPartner has a plug-in that sits on the AS/400 to monitor spool files for data. When that data is written out to the spool file, FormsPartner moves it over to a shared folder on the AS/400. A detailed header describes particular information in the spool file, such as who printed it, what time it was printed, and what form it should be printed on. All the files produced by the FormsPartner application which reside on the NT server are protected by NT security and can also be encrypted.

Source Technologies is trying to push FormsPartner into vertical industries and customize it for particular needs and requirements. Historically, FormsPartner has been used in the financial services, particularly branch banking industry. They are now targeting hospitals, and other general cross-industry applications. In the AS/400 arena, manufacturing customers are the first to embrace this product. FormsPartner can print e-forms for checks, invoices, purchase orders, hospital admission forms, shipping documents, return labels, message cards, or any custom document.

Comments Spencer, “A lot of businesses really believe in this idea—using NT middleware with applications on their AS/400 that also reside on other systems, such as Windows and Unix, in their enterprise. Now, they can use the same e-forms tool in any system environments. Those are the people that are attracted by our offering.”

The primary user of the FormsPartner applications would typically be an operations person who’s in charge of the paper forms and the workflow of those forms. Minimum support is required of the IS department to make changes and create or distribute e-forms.

Pricing is based on industry requirements and application configuration. Source Technologies determine how much money a company could save in a year by using e-forms, rather than preprinted forms, and offers a good Return on Investment in under a year in almost all cases. A license for the server, plug-in, and application builder runs about $8,000 says Spencer. “In a large distributed network with fairly small needs, that price would be substantially lower.”

Related Information:

  • Printware Solutions (new window)
  • FormsPartner Overview (new window)