Optimizing Business Processes with Dynamic Documents

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*** This article originally appeared in JustSystems Commentary Series.***

Jake Sorofman , JustSystems, Inc.

One of the most innovative aspects of the document-as-application vision is the fact that the application logic resides in the dynamic document itself. This makes the dynamic document highly intelligent and richly aware of its environment.

Imagine a document that renders itself dynamically based on a user’s role, permission profile or the point in a process. The result is precision targeting of information, ensuring that the document presents exactly what its consumer wants, needs or is appropriate to see. Better still, imagine a document that can actually route itself through a workflow because it knows where it has been and where it needs to go.

Or imagine a document that can be read, interpreted and processed—not only by people—but by computers themselves. Imagine transactional systems creating documents and documents creating transactions. Suddenly, those manual gaps between automated process silos are part of a seamless, semi-automated straight-through process.

What does this mean for business? Optimized operations. Document-centric processes used to imply a tradeoff: The context and portability of the document-based user experience for static information. No more. Dynamic documents come to life as rich applications which can streamline business processes by integrating transactional processes with document-centric process flows. Dynamic documents become the basis for a sort of “document process transformation.”

Dynamic documents help financial services, manufacturing, aerospace and defense, life sciences, and other industries where business processes contain manual gaps between isolated silos of automation. These process gaps are typically the document-centric phases that are executed by humans instead of machines.

Dynamic documents bridge the gap between automated transactional workflows and more human-centric, document-based workflows. Organizations can automatically capture transactional information and pull it into dynamic documents for human review and analysis. Likewise, information within the documents can be automatically processed by back-office systems, without manual re-keying or scanning of information.

Case Example: Bank Loan — Uniting Transactions and Documents

The advantages of dynamic document-driven process transformation can be illustrated by a request for a bank loan. The initial step in this business process often includes a form, which is filled out by the applicant. That form becomes the basis of a dynamic document.

Some information in the dynamic document is processed automatically as a transaction by a backend enterprise software system. Other data from the dynamic document needs to be rendered as a series of dynamic document renditions for human review and analysis across various steps in a workflow process. What is rendered is only the information appropriate to the stakeholder or role at that point in the process.

Later in the process, the loan is approved and the information in the dynamic document is extracted to trigger and populate other automated transactions — the account opening procedure, for example. Eventually, the dynamic document needs to be rendered as a new set of static documents, such as an acknowledgement letter, payment coupons, etc.

The dynamic document ushers the business process through both its document-centric and transactional process stages. First, the dynamic document is rendered as a form, later it is deconstructed as a set of transactions, and finally rendered as a static document.

The scenario above is just one of countless business processes that blend transactions and documents. With their embedded intelligence, dynamic documents hold great promise for eliminating manual gaps, streamlining operations and putting documents to work as dynamic and connected contributors to key business processes.

Jake Sorofman is senior vice president of marketing and business development for JustSystems, the largest ISV in Japan and a worldwide leader in XML and information management technologies. Learn more about JustSystems at http://na.justsystems.com, and contact Jake at jake.sorofman@justsystems.com.

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