Customized, High Volume Document Generation Via Multiple Data Sources
Certified Successful: Customized, High Volume Document Generation Via Multiple Data Sources
A global consulting and certification company needed to simplify their document automation and templating process which was dependent on multiple data sources and manual handling of thousands of documents each week. Netrix developed a solution that shifted report design and publication from internal IT to business-line owners. Efficiency dramatically increased and the solution transformed their document generation capability from what was taking hours or sometimes days, to seconds per document and integrated it globally across the business to serve internal staff, partners and external clients.
More than eighty years of organic growth and acquisitions had created a decentralized company without standard processes. Technology advancements in the 90s had put them on a Lotus Notes path to solve this problem, but without a coherent strategy for standardization, the divisions used the new technology to continue heading their separate ways.
The company had four divisions and a corporate entity all using their data and associated tools differently ensuring that apples-to-apples comparisons were difficult. The divisions operated separately and possessed their own executive teams, including independently operating CIOs. Each CIO served the members of his or her division and was reticent to make disruptive changes in the name of overarching standardization.
With 185 offices globally, more than 100,000 products are evaluated annually. The volume of documents manually produced to support that activity was challenging and complicated by the vast amount of data from multiple data sources in different locations that needed to be aggregated to produce each document.
The required query of data was dependent on separate systems to manually consume, collect and filter data into each specific document and was time-consuming and prone to error. Report data resided across legacy systems, multiple RDMS databases (both local and cloud based) and manual spreadsheets. Not only was information difficult to find, security sometimes prevented information from being obtained.
During the Netrix led discovery, several goals for the project were identified to improve process accuracy and efficiency:
- Creating a centralized publication tool that would service customers globally
- Shifting template design from internal IT to business users via Microsoft Office
- Creating reusable components for report templates (i.e., legal verbiage)
- Controlling of templates via a central repository
- Consistency across the dozens of templates in both format and how they are generated
- Consistency across data sources vs. manual user managed spreadsheets
Netrix worked with the client team to identify the first templates to automate and connect the data sources as part of the process.
The Netrix partnership and previous work with the client would reveal process and application efficiencies that would enable the desired outcome. All of the client’s goals were addressed with one utility, which surprised the client due to the many disparate data sources needed for their document generation requirements. Netrix leveraged the Windward reporting engine and templates and wrote a custom user interface integrated with their Identity Access Management (IAM) system so the client could maintain a user-friendly interface and end-users could easily produce custom templates and certificates with the required data on demand.
Windward proved to be the most cost-effective tool to automate the document generation process because it is user-friendly and requires minimal training. It is also easier to use than other open source solutions the client considered and easy enough for business stakeholders to maintain without the need for IT to manage it day-to-day. The custom UI reduced ownership cost in both maintenance and licensing since only server cost came into play versus individual user access.
The client was so pleased with the outcome, they plan to promote it to the cloud and turn it into a self-service solution for external clients to look up status or publish a certificate for their unique product or logo on demand. The new system intelligently hosts multiple types of documents across clients – QA, engineering, certifications, manufacturing, etc. What began as a four-week proof of concept has expanded to an application that provides global publication of reports and documents in ways they never imagined.
- The volume of documents produced manually monthly requiring custom data updates was increasing and unsustainable.
- Document generation and data aggregation required access to disparate systems and manual manipulation which required days to produce documents in some cases.
- No central reporting system to service document generation needs globally.
- Only one application, Windward, is required to generate thousands of documents each week.
- The new system generates each custom certificate in seconds versus days, in some instances.
- Self-maintenance and server licensing (versus user licensing) reduced the solution’s total cost of ownership.
- IT no longer had to quickly turn around production reports via coding updates.
- Consistent data and reports across all divisions.
Netrix incorporates agile development best practices into our application development operations and prioritizes the evolution of your development teams by introducing market-leading best practices. Whether modernizing the applications you have in place today or developing new custom solutions for your unique business challenges, our team provides the experience and resources necessary to gain new functionality and efficiencies.
Our Microsoft-certified engineers develop software applications using the most modern technologies, ensuring that your application is usable and maintainable in the future. Our primary technical expertise includes:
- .NET development, MVC, MVP, MVVM
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