Published on 22-Feb-2010
Validated on 26 Nov 2012
"The logic and control in the ePDF configuration databases are “the cream of the crop” with comprehensive possibilities: database monitoring, mail interface, hot folders in the file system – all with the same, diverse options." - Frank Hagen, Notes Administrator and Developer at ROLAND Rechtsschutz-Versicherungs-AG (Information Technology department)
Insurance, Professional Services
Business Integration, Optimizing IT, Optimizing IT
IBM Business Partner:
The ROLAND group of companies is a conglomerate of specialist firms that operates Europe-wide and has its group headquarters in Cologne. The portfolio of services is dominated by two central areas of business: comprehensive service covering every aspect of the law, as well as insurance and assistance solutions covering every aspect of the topics of mobility and services.
The organization needed to transform disparate paper-based and e-mail correspondence processes into steamlined electronic records management and archival to save costs, while improving responsiveness and minimize turn-around time in a highly competitive insurance industry marketplace.
With the help of the Lotus Domino-based application ePDF Server from the IBM Business Partner GroupWare AG, a “paperless office” with a comprehensive archive function was seamlessly integrated into the existing processes within a very short period of time.
New applications can now be quickly and easily integrated into the existing mail and archive system. All processes run uniformly and can be managed centrally. Information, files, and e-mails are stored in the secure and manageable PDF format in the archive and can be accessed quickly from any workstation.
ROLAND Group – “We fight for your rights.”
The ROLAND group of companies is a conglomerate of specialist firms that operates Europe-wide and has its group headquarters in Cologne. The portfolio of services is dominated by two central areas of business: comprehensive service covering every aspect of the law as well as insurance and assistance solutions covering every aspect of the topics of mobility and services.
Within the insurance market of all-rounders, the companies of the ROLAND Group regard themselves as specialists that create tailored customer solutions. Approximately 1,300 employees of this conglomerate of specialist firms guarantee the high service standard in all areas of business, providing more than 21 million customers and more than 170 partner companies from a wide variety of economic sectors with assistance in the modern world.
Heterogeneous systems – a great many media breaks
ROLAND Rechtsschutz-Versicherungs-AG and ROLAND Assistance GmbH from Cologne have been using the highly productive GroupWare platform Lotus Notes for some time now. Nonetheless, a number of processes were still paper-based, and not all the systems were connected to the central optical archive system. On the whole, there was no uniform structure in the document processes of the different business units with regard to filing, formats, and archiving.
In the legal insurance claims processing department, outgoing correspondence was already archived in the TIFF format, but using a complex process involving a fax server. At Assistance, a Notes application was used for case processing, but without archiving. Finally, also in the Assistance unit, filing was partially paper-based, as incoming mail was scanned but not archived. There were comprehensive stocks of legacy data in the RTF format in the file system.
This is a typical scenario in grown structures with heterogeneous systems.
On the way to the paperless office
The work of clerks and administrators was to be improved and simplified, reducing the number of queries addressed to the specialist departments and IT. A harmonization of formats was to achieve significantly better document handling and the size of the databases was to be reduced by routing all documents to the existing archiving.
This resulted in the need for the three areas of outgoing correspondence, case processing or electronic filing, and incoming mail to implement uniform archiving in the same format and with a uniform conversion process. The PDF or PDF/A format was to balance out the – in particular qualitative – weaknesses of the TIFF format used to date.
Existing conversion systems, one for TIFF, one for PDF, and both with implementations that were complex and susceptible to errors, were to be replaced or harmonized. This was intended not only to achieve an improvement in the processes but also to enable quick and simple integration of new use cases into an overall solution for PDF generation.
Specific plans for new processes and use of the PDF format
During initial contact with the IBM Business Partner GroupWare AG, the requirements were defined and an insight into the implementation possibilities was provided. Two months later, in a two-day workshop, details were clarified and the implementation for four use cases was outlined. A test environment was set up and loaded with typical documents.
The results were so convincing that after only a few weeks a decision was made in favor of the ePDF Server for Domino.
All subsequent use cases were replicated in a uniform, Domino server-based system. The outgoing e-mail correspondence of ROLAND Rechtsschutz-Versicherungs-AG was converted without user interaction into autonomous PDF files, i.e. each Notes e-mail was rendered in the PDF format together with attached files. Documents arriving in personal e-mail inboxes were treated in the same way and sent to the archive as PDF or PDF/A files.
In the Assistance business unit, there was outgoing correspondence but also the extremely time-critical processing of claims, which were also to be archived as PDFs and only then processed. Here, the desired availability and rapid processing were ensured by means of a separate, redundantly configured ePDF system, supported by GroupWare AG Technical Support with agreed response times.
Finally, an editor system for outgoing correspondence was also integrated. This had already created comprehensive data stocks in the file system as a Java application. The RTF files present here, and those being continuously added, were also converted by the ePDF Server and thus sent to archiving as PDFs.
Useful information on PDF/A: electronic archiving
Electronic archives save documents over the long term and make them secure with regard to audits over their entire life, thus meeting statutory compliance requirements. It must remain possible to classify and manage documents of a wide variety of formats such as e-mail, Office documents, faxes, or letters. This means that, as far as possible, there must be uniform access to all the information in the company – even to information that was recorded in the 1980s with the first versions of Office programs or using typewriters. Since 2005, alongside other formats (for example TIFF), the specially developed PDF/A format complying with ISO 19005 has also been permitted for long-term archiving.
For archiving in the PDF/A format, it is necessary to render even an existing PDF into a PDF/A and/or to validate it.
About ePDF Server for Domino
ePDF Server Domino is a highly scalable PDF rendition and document automation solution. It leverages the IBM Lotus Notes and Domino collaboration platform and is capable of rendering, merging, distributing and publishing any data held in Lotus Domino databases in the PDF file format – today’s de-facto standard for document exchange.
More than 300 supported input le formats can be rendered to PDF or validated PDF/A-1a and 1b, and can also stamped, merged, watermarked, encrypted, secured, concatenated, OCR’ed, zipped, and distributed automatically.
Delivering centralized, network-wide, one-stop PDF services within IBM ECM and Domino environments, ePDF Server provides a cost-effective and transparent building block for any kind of business solution, from messaging to workflow, document management, content management, customized product data management, and so on.
The solution is instantly available, with no programming required. With its self-configuring easy installation routine, the software can be up and running in less than three minutes. Integration into any IBM Lotus Notes and Domino environment can be set up via a simple point and click interface.
Return on investment from deploying ePDF Server for Domino can potentially be achieved in a matter of weeks. Compared to other client-side ‘PDF print’ software, ePDF Server incurs no costs per seat or per click, creates no desktop deployment or software distribution costs, and has no negative impact on user productivity. As the PDF standard itself is rapidly developing, ePDF Server for Domino is being continuously enhanced to maintain its leading position among server-based PDF solutions.
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
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