In many types of companies, the documents (certificates of balance, invoices etc.) sent regularly to the clients form the foundation of communication with clients. The value and effect of this communication can be widely increased with absolutely unique and highly personalized client documents. Only a fully integrated document composition solution is able to grab this value and opportunity of client communication and create the data needed in printed and many electronically available types.
Document composition has been an integrant part of previous business systems. This precludes the separation of the system delivering primary important business processes and the needs of client communication. Business systems rarely change, their life cycle usually is long. However, client communication – in extreme cases – might be successful only with monthly modifications. But in the traditional approach this would bring forth a monthly modification of our business systems as well!
What is the business challenge?
Create value for client communication!
What is the purpose?
Efficient client communication, client satisfaction and client retention.
Basic steps of document creation:
Raw data creation:
gathering, transforming, ordering data, factoring for target groups
quick final formatting, insertion of marketing messages
Archiving and retrieval:
call center, client management
Details of the solution
Business systems only generate data for document composition that are needed for creating client documents. This interface usually carries many redundant data between the two system components: not every data given for document composition need to be shown on its output (data prepared for printing, electronic format for archiving, etc.) At the same time this is the precondition of rare modification of business systems.
We use two main types of document composition:
One of them is Batch processing that – due to its name – processes the loads of input data sources (generated in the client’s own systems or transfered through OBDC connection) and generates all the output files needed. Generally it means bulk printing and archiving. In this case the most important parameter is speed/performance as the composite system has to generate up to millions of pages of PDF® and PostScript® files per day in case of multiple customers. In this type of composition, printing and preparation of enveloping (i.e. bar-codes, media settings, grouping based on page numbers, ordering based on postal code, etc.) have a huge role as well.
The other type is On-demand, the processing guided by needs. In this case, for one executing, we talk about very small amount of data, maybe for only one client. The client’s own management generates a request for creating a document. This request is executed by the composite system and it gives back the files generated. This request-response connection is able to use the communicational channels and protocols (Web Service, SOAP, Message Queuing etc.) that are in accordance with the industry’ standards.
Naturally, the same “molds” (so-called document applications) are used to generate the output file for both processing types, so the document’s plan has to be projected only once and then it can be used independently from the output channel.
Document composite system has two main components:
First component is a WYSWYG planning workstation. The desired document application, with the help of test data files, can be easily planned with it and with high level lingual and graphic tools largely specialized for document composition.
After its completion on the one hand it carries all the abstract description that is essential for generating the document type given from raw data. On the other hand it contains all the graphic elements, fonts, pictures etc. that are needed for the generation.
Most of the solutions of this type have the opportunity of:
- inserting PDF, RTF, DOC and image files into the design
- making dynamic graphs
- handling complex tables
- handling data overflow on pages
- executing all of „MS Word®”’s editing and formating options
- generating barcodes and OMR codes
- handling several output and input sources, using CSV, XML, etc. files
- version follow-up of document application
- showing developmental preview
- inserting marketing messages
- useful application of blank surfaces for postal item numbers (so-called white space management)
The other main component, the document composition machine (Document Production Engine), is an environment, the input of which is on the one hand the document application, on the other hand its the huge amount of live, raw data input. Document application chiefly means the totality of potential processes, guided by business logic, that guide the final performance of the image of the document during processing of the live data.
This task is performed at a quick pace by the composition machine. The exact speed depends on the machine’s category and the parameters of the receiving software / hardware environment (it can span from a couple thousand pages up to a million per hour).
This second component’s output is the final document created for multiple purposes (printing, archiving, web view etc.). The planning workstation typically can be run in some kind of Windows environment, while the possible platform of production system ranges from Windows through different Unix to mainframe.
Document composite systems offered and supported by our company of which we have gained experience in sales, implementation, development and support in (and we still support them):
- HP Exstream (previously Dialogue, support for HP and Xerox):
- Pitney Bowes DOC1 (support for Xerox):
- Elixir Opus (support for Xerox):