Vanguard Goes Mobile With Content Management
April 5, 2017 Alex Woodie
Vanguard Systems last week debuted eMobile, a new mobile app that allows users to interact with its enterprise content management (ECM) system from the comfort of an iOS or Android app. As an extension to its flagship IBM i-based Vanguard ECM, eMobile keeps users hooked into the document workflow even when they’re out of the office.
Nobody said the shift from paper-based forms to digital document management would happen overnight. Even today, in the sixth decade of mainstream business computing, paperwork that’s based on actual paper – as opposed to digital forms represented by pixels on screen – is still widespread.
Companies that rely on the IBM i server to run business applications have been shifting from printed forms to electronic documents for decades. One of the vendors playing prominently in this space is Vanguard Systems, the Aston, Pennsylvania, firm that develops the Vanguard ECM collection of document imaging tools (formerly called IMS/21), as well as EliteForm, which it obtained with its acquisition of Elite Document Solutions back in 2007.
The new eMobile app hooks into both Vanguard ECM and EliteForm – both of which run on IBM i as well as other platforms – to provide users with access to document management and workflow capabilities outside of the office. The new app also integrates with other IBM i applications and databases to ensure that forms used through the eMobile interface work with existing business processes and have access to the latest data.
eMobile introduces the concept of a mobile “workbasket” where users can access a variety of work orders, invoices, shipping documents, surveys, inspection forms, and other documents that may have previously only existed on paper. As the field workers complete their work, they can submit the proper form remotely via the eMobile app running on their tablets or smart phones.
Vanguard says the app can serve many purposes in a variety of scenarios, including warehouse order picking; shipping and delivery confirmation; general purpose field service and repairs; work orders and construction; quality control; inspection and reporting; and customer support.
The eMobile app is also integrated with the IBM i databases. A business processes executing on an ERP system or other IBM i application can trigger eMobile tasks, thereby alerting the worker to complete the task by adjusting quantities or accessing price books.
The app makes use of the iOS or Android device’s camera, which can be used for capturing images or signatures or even reading barcodes. All entries in the eMobile app are also time stamped, providing a log of the sequence of events. eMobile can also make use of the GPS chip built into most smart devices, thereby enabling the customer to track the movement of workers and to build custom location-aware services. What’s more, eMobile can also keep track of billable hours, which is a useful feature for field workers in a variety of features.
While those features are nice, the big benefit from eMobile at the end of the day is eliminating paper from the transaction, which helps to speed-up the execution of existing workflows, such as approving invoices for payment.
Vanguard Systems President Dave Engberg says eMobile was the next logical step in the evolution of Vanguard’s offerings from the back office into the field.
“We’ve had clients in the past still buried in paper documents coming from the field – even in 2017,” he stated in a press release. “With eMobile, users conduct business as usual, but with more control, vast access to customer information, enhanced field management capabilities and immediate data transfer to legacy applications – and of course, no paper or associated inefficiencies.”
The software can run on any iPhone, iPad, or Android-based smartphone or tablet. This gives users the capability to replace a custom-built $1,000 piece of hardware with a commercial off-the-shelf smartphone or tablet that costs as little as $200.
“We’ve not only eliminated paper, but also eliminated data entry errors, administrative labor associated with paper wrangling, and delayed billing,” Enberg says.
For more info, see http://www.vansystems.com.