In a series of articles, we are looking at interesting use cases we’ve had in our integration projects. This time, we will discuss how to create documents in OpenText Content Server based on complex templates, automatically save them in the appropriate workspaces and trigger Content Server workflows, e.g. approvals by management (document-driven business process automation). This functionality is not available in Content Server out of the box, but it is frequently requested by our customers.
OpenText Content Server Benefits vs Implementation Challenges
Content lies at the heart of any modern business. The pile of invoices, contracts, rich media, marketing messages, and a range of other content assets gets higher every minute. However, we don’t want our valuable information to get buried. We want it to work for us. So we seek a solution that would make our enterprise content easily accessible, well integrated with other business applications, mobile, cloud-ready, and safe.
OpenText Content Server, the flagship OpenText ECM solution, addresses all these tasks. It enables enterprises to categorize, search (by content and metadata), provide parallel access to multiple users, create, store, manage document versions, and work with business files in the applications that our employees use every day.
OpenText Content Server has a number of benefits and wide functionality:
- Ability to manage various file types such as Office documents, business records, email, structured data, etc.
- Accessing content through a configurable web interface.
- Cost-effective archiving and flexible storage options.
- Simple navigation through faceted browse, project workspaces.
- Creating and editing content easily with productivity tools such as Adobe® Acrobat®, Microsoft® Office, Microsoft Outlook®, etc.
- Enhanced version and permissions management.
- Complex workflows for processes such as change requests, or review and approval of content.
- Wide, multilingual metadata capabilities.
Effective management of template documents in OpenText Content Server
On one of the projects for our clients, we faced the challenge of customizing OpenText Content Server for creating template documents. The client has been using Content Server as their main information repository. However, their legal department was having difficulty streamlining the process of creating and approving legal documents. They needed a manageable solution for creating template documents with reusable content.
On the one hand, they needed a framework to create customer documents that would meet predefined structure, requirements, format, design, corporate style, and contain fixed parts with essential information. On the other hand, it needed to be flexible so that the legal personnel who created contracts and related paperwork could edit customer-specific texts. So the client needed the ability to create documents fast and represent their specific relationship with each specific customer. Another requirement was to minimize the number of templates to bring consistency to their processes, and to prevent legal staff from creating custom copies of original templates. Aside from improving efficiency at the legal staff level, this also had to simplify the approval process, since the supervisor had to concentrate only on the editable sections.
These requirements called for the implementation of Interactive Correspondence for Content Server (ICCS), which uses templates driven by OpenText Communications Centre Enterprise (Exstream). So we used ICCS module to connect OpenText Content Server and Exstream.
Template Documents Generation with OpenText Content Server and ICCS. Technical process by steps:
- The template is created in Exstream (CCE).
In Content Server, a user sees the list of templates. Clicks one.
Content Server calls Exstream and receives the ‘raw’ template document. Content Server metadata such as names, addresses and other Customer specific details are automatically inserted at this stage.
CS user adds custom content in a rich web based editor. It allows to add and edit content in designated parts of the document and locks other parts for editing. The user can also insert and edit pre-composed snippets from the asset library. Once done, the user submits the form.
Based on the submitted data, Exstream generates a custom document, and returns the PDF to Content Server.
CS saves the document in the corresponding workspace (e.g. in the folder of this user – identifying the correct storage place is part of the integration functionality).
Content Server triggers a workflow that sends the document to the supervisor for approval (optional).
ICCS module functionality and benefits
Interactive Correspondence for Content Server can be used to generate template-based documents from Content Server for virtually any use case or industry. They include generation of invoices, contracts, offers, product fact sheets, HR documents, and more. It leverages templates created in Extream’s ReTouch and Workshop. Relevant metadata such as the customer’s name and address can be automatically inserted into the designated placeholders in the template. Additionally, the field staff can insert custom content where allowed.
N-iX professionals used the functionality of this module to give our client exactly what they needed. Therefore, the solution we developed using Interactive Correspondence provided the following capabilities:
- Having a list of predefined contracts available from the standard Content Server interface.
- Synchronization of Content Server metadata both during automatic creation of the initial version of the document and subsequent document editing.
- Getting business data from Content Server Category attribute values (metadata).
- Both flexibility and control when creating legal contracts.
- Establishing the process of how contracts are modified by one user and how they are approved by the supervisor.
- Eliminating the overhead associated with document management.
- Streamlined business operations and more personalized customer experience.
The overall number of templates was reduced by combining similar documents. Exstream would analyze Content Server metadata and produce different types of documents based on the same template.
Access to creating and editing templates was granted only to a few authorized users, which eliminated the problem of uncontrolled proliferation of template copies with untraceable differences.
Having connected Content Server with Exstream, OCCS doubled the value of these products. Exstream facilitated the creation of documents, ensured high-speed documents production, introduced control of templates, allowed us to automatically personalize customer documents, and much more.
All things considered, even with such highly functional product suite as OpenText, companies still have to do a lot of customization if they want the ECM solution to be perfectly aligned to their business needs. OpenText Content Server and its supplementary tools such as ICCS offer great capabilities. However, a solid ECM solution for document management is difficult to implement without the necessary expertise.
So after choosing a perfect product for your ECM needs, pay special attention to choosing an experienced team specializing in OpenText integrations. Connect with our experts and we would be happy to use our experience and best practices acquired from similar projects to enhance your business processes with this solution.