During February of 2009, FIAT UK and CNH UK approached Present and enquired about the feasibility of developing an Internet based electronic document management system to replace their current, costly method of printing and mailing the large volumes of world-wide supplier self bill documents produced weekly by the CNH Evaluated Receipt Settlement (ERS) system.
The CNH Evaluated Receipt Settlement (ERS) system is a mainframe based COBOL/DB2 based system and the existing method of printing was via an aged method of merging PCL type data with Xerox printer based document templates.
The proposed document management system would require secure login for each CNH supplier and the ability for each supplier to view, print, save and archive self bill documents in Portable Document Format (PDF).
Fiat wanted to implement this new system with a limited budget. Using our Cloud Application Services we were able to deliver the required system to Fiat with zero development and zero hardware cost.
ActiveDoc Design and Development
We decided that for future system extensibility and reuse, the fundamental design of the data storage system would have to be flexible enough to enable ASCII text and binary (scanned) documents to be stored and retrieved. A fully relational database was created in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 with this objective in mind. Using our existing COBOL/DB2 expertise, we worked closely with CNH (Case New Holland) to develop an ASCII based interface of CNH supplier self bill documents from ERS which would act as the data source for the new web based system. During this phase we also developed middleware in C#.Net that resides between mainframe and SQL Server that automatically receives and processes self bill document interface files into the ActiveDoc SQL Server database.
The ActiveDoc web-based front-end to the new system was developed using Microsoft ASP.Net/C#.Net to the requirements specified. The core of this application merges relational data with bespoke created Crystal Report templates and delivers documents to the user on demand in Portable Document Format (PDF).
From a daily operational viewpoint, FIAT UK would have to provide helpdesk facilities for users of ActiveDoc such as password resets, informing new suppliers of the ActiveDoc system and other more general enquiries. To assist the FIAT UK helpdesk, we provided a password change facility, created an automatic new supplier notification process into the interface middleware that informs the helpdesk operatives via email when a new supplier is loaded into the ActiveDoc database and administration facilities for viewing any supplier’s documents.
Near to going live with the new system it was necessary for FIAT UK to notify approximately 400 CNH suppliers of the new document delivery method provided by ActiveDoc. We assisted FIAT UK with this process by extracting master supplier name and address data from ERS and merging this data with a supplier notification letter together with a unique initial password for ActiveDoc access. To help keep the costs of this supplier notification to a minimum, we created a user manual in PDF format which is downloadable via a link on the ActiveDoc website.
Following back-loading of self bill data from the beginning of November 2008, ActiveDoc went live on 11th May 2009. At the time of writing this document (19th June) approximately 200 CNH suppliers are using the system with absolutely no complaints about the change in document delivery method. In fact, one Italian supplier emailed the FIAT UK helpdesk and described the new website as ‘wonderful’. Praise indeed!!
For more information about Cloud Application Services click here.