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Scanning and Document retrieval on IBMi

The Challenge 

One of our customers wanted to be able to easily scan documents, initially supplier invoices, using information available on screen in their existing 5250 application. The requirement was also that the documents would be retrievable from those same screens. 

Previously the accounts department would manually scan and file each invoice, this was both time-consuming as they had to repeat actions carried out on the IBMi system and prone to manual entry errors if a document was saved with the wrong name or in the wrong location. 

The solution would need to store the invoices as PDFs, with the correct file name and folder structure, in this example invoices should be saved using their internal reference number and folders split on the first 5 digits of the reference number. 

The solution 

VRTech Logo

We partnered with VRTech to use their LinkIt package, this application would allow screen-scrape from the existing 5250 data entry and enquiry pages to gather the information required. 

Screens are defined through an easy to use GUI admin program, highlighting information that is used to identify the screen and to generate the filename. A single central database is used to define actions available, meaning that when a change is made our staff did not have to go round doing updates on each client computer as they would simply pick up the updated database. 

A client is then installed on each machine in use by the accounts department, it will detect the session and offer a popup box when actions are available. At the time of implementation our customer was using the IBM Client Access package, but has since moved to Access Client Solutions and is still able to use LinkIt functionality. 

In our example the customer chose to store the PDFs on their data server, although they could also be saved onto the IFS of the local IBM Power server if preferred. We also worked with our internal Intel team to set permissions such that users can scan/re-scan documents but not move/delete them to ensure that the folder structure remains as intended. 

The benefits 

With the system implemented it becomes much easier for accounts staff to scan in documentation and make sure it is filed in the correct manner, removing the risk of invalid data that comes with manual scanning and filing. 

The customer has since gone on to use the same software to manage their delivery notes and goods receipts, as the staff become more familiar with using the software in their day-to-day tasks it means you can quickly adapt when a new type of documentation requires scanning. 

In these later examples the customer chose to develop a new 5250 screen to display pending delivery notes / goods receipts to allow staff to easily see what documentation is required and process it in a timely manner. A secondary function of this screen was to easily allow re-scanning of documentation, if the original for any reason wasn’t complete/suitable.