FormSprint Delivers Two IBM i-Connected iPad Apps
October 1, 2013 Alex Woodie
Integrated Custom Software has introduced two new IBM i-connected iPad apps designed to help companies get jobs and tasks done more quickly and more efficiently. The new apps include FormsTrack iDelivery, which is designed for delivery truck drivers, and a Signature Manager, which allows businesses to capture signatures at the point of sale.
When the iPad was launched 35 months ago, it single handedly created a new market for tablet computers. And while Android has some 80 percent of the global market for smartphones, Apple’s sleek iOS devices have maintained market share on the tablet. This is especially true among organizational customers, like businesses and schools, which prefer the controlled nature of Apple’s iOS ecosystem compared to the Android free-for-all.
Businesses are also increasingly adopting iPads for use outside the office. It’s becoming a common sight to see route drivers, salesmen, and insurance adjusters working away at iPads while they’re out in the field.
The folks at ICS have not let the i revolution pass them by. ICS, which is perhaps better known as the software company behind the FormSprint line of document management products for the IBM i server, rolled out its first mobile-enabled app in early 2012, when it added the capability to generate quick response (QR) barcodes from IBM i data.
Earlier this year, ICS announced that it was working on several iPad apps designed to help its FormSprint customers, who are IBM i shops and, therefore, are heavily concentrated in fields like manufacturing, distribution, and retail.
The first of these iPad apps is FormsTrack iDeliver, or FTID. This app is designed to replace all the paper delivery documents that a driver had to carry around. Before setting out on a delivery, all of the required documents are downloaded from the IBM i server to the FTID app on the iPad (or the iPad Mini).
As the driver makes his stops, the FTID app allows him to record proof of delivery by capturing signatures directly on the iPad. If there’s a problem with the delivery–like, say, a bunch of bananas is rotten–the situation is noted directly on the iPad app, and pictures can even be attached to orders.
Delivery confirmations and problems are immediately uploaded into the IBM i server over the cell network. This allows the IBM i server to automatically email the customer a copy of the delivery document. If network connectivity is not available, the information is uploaded when the driver returns to the office.
This approach decreases the paper shuffle and increases customer satisfaction compared to the old, paper-based way of doing business, says ICS’ Don Tuttle.
“If a driver made a stop and there’s a case of broken eggs or a case of milk missing, everything would have to be written on the invoice,” he says. “Back at headquarters, customer service might not receive the information until the following day. And then a day after that, the replacement delivery goes out.”
The second new iPad product, called Signature Manager, is the signature capture component of FTID. This product allows customers to capture signatures on an iPad, by using one’s finger as a stylus.
According to ICS, the Signature Manager software receives documents from the FormSprint archive database system on the IBM i and displays them on the iPad. The app provides a field where customers can sign documents. When the signature is complete, the document is uploaded back into the IBM i database and stored as a PDF file. There are also options to have copies of the signed document automatically emailed to one or more recipients.
A FormSprint customer can modify its systems to start using Signature Manager software by making a few changes on the spool mapper section of the form design tool. Any existing form can be set up for archiving and signature capture, ICS says.
The Signature Manager product is currently being tested in a Caterpillar shop. For more information, see the company’s website at www.formsprint.com.