PDF Business Processes

The PDF format has become firmly established in business processes over the past 15 years. The use of PDF can lead to significant savings in all business processes by simplifying workflow processes and reducing costs through standardization. We can show you where and how PDF and PDF/A can be utilized in your business processes. The ECM model from AIIM will serve as a basis. - Incoming mail (Capture) - Create and process (Manage) - Outgoing mail (Deliver) - Archiving (Preserve)

Incoming mail (Capture)

Digitalization has drastically changed incoming mail processes. Processing and response times can be reduced significantly despite the huge increase in possible forms and formats that land in the "inbox". Many companies have to date utilized the TIFF format. However, this has many disadvantages in comparison to PDF and PDF/A. The PDF formats are able to save metadata (keywords, indices), the text contained in the document and much more directly in the document as a unit. And there are also solutions for the growing flood of emails. Today, we can convert an email and its attachments to form a single PDF (or a TIFF if needs be) so that all the documents within the company have a standardized format for further processing.

Process scenario

  • Digitalization of incoming mail for the purpose of standardized electronic processing in business processes / workflow processes

  • Verification of incoming mail, for instance with regard to adherence to format conformity, directives for suppliers, etc.

  • Direct archiving of incoming mail in its "original state", e.g. for legal reasons

The role of PDF and PDF/A

  • Utilization of PDF or PDF/A as a standard format - all information relating to the document is stored in the PDF

  • Conversion of scanned documents to PDF

  • Conversion of digital documents (MS Office, etc.) to PDF

  • Conversion of emails with attachments to PDF (or TIFF)

  • Storage of keywords, indices, processing notes and similar directly in the PDF, possibly extracted directly from the document

  • Option for full text searching thanks to embedding document texts in the PDF based on the OCR process for analog sources

  • Application of digital signatures to the PDF document as proof of integrity, document authenticity and of the time the signature was applied

Create and process (Manage)

Document administration, generating and processing

The ECM model uses the term "Manage" to denote the administration, creation and processing of information and documents in the company. From an organizational standpoint this concerns the areas where documents are created or processed: back office, sales office, case processing, billing, accounting, design office and similar. Most large companies use ERP and workflow systems based on the transfer of electronic documents. PDF has long since prevailed as a format for the purpose, in particular as it enables the direct application of annotation and watermarks to the document and allows process information in the form of metadata to be saved as a part of the document, to mention just two advantages.

Process scenario

  • Electronic processing of documents for the purpose of business case handling (delivery paperwork, incoming invoices, inspection reports from suppliers, incoming correspondence, claims forms, etc.)

  • Creation of documents for external communication (customer correspondence, invoices, etc.)

  • Creation of documents for internal use (design drawings, inspection reports, production documents, records in general)

The role of PDF and PDF/A

  • Application of annotations and watermarks to PDF documents as proof of process steps; application of notes for downstream processing (document lifecycle)

  • Digital PDF signing as a record of internal processors

  • Extraction of text for use in internal systems, for indexing or for further processing or to prevent duplicates from being processed

  • Ensuring that certain information is only accessible to certain people

  • Creation of PDFs from digital sources such as MS Office documents, emails, CAD drawings, etc., for instance in preparation for dispatch

  • Displaying PDFs within the company's application or in secure environments, including annotations, watermarks, digital signatures, alternative texts, etc.

Outgoing mail (Deliver)

Outgoing mail often involves the physical or electronic distribution of documents. The term "output management" is often used to describe the process. The objective is to prepare the documents drawn up within the company for electronic or physical distribution and to design these processes efficiently and without any change in format. PDF once again plays an important role, especially as PDF is a very flexible format that can integrate metadata within the document (metadata is invisible in the visual appearance of the document).

Process scenario

  • Dynamic creation of (personalized) documents from databases

  • Generation of print data streams from various sources

  • Controlling the printing process via control files

  • Electronic distribution of documents, e.g. via email or the web.

The role of PDF and PDF/A

  • "Assembling" of PDF documents and personalization from database sources

  • Creating PDFs from ERP systems, e.g. for e-billing, including the integration of Edifact data in the PDF's metadata

  • "Finishing" of PDF documents by applying "customized" corporate identity elements such as logos, etc.

  • Inclusion of print control data in the PDF in the form of metadata

  • Converting PDFs into printing languages and print data streams (PCL, Postscript, AFP, etc.)

  • Creating PDFs from Office files and dispatching them electronically via email, fax, etc.

  • Merging digital and PDF documents to form a single document (e.g. customized correspondence and Terms and Conditions)

Archiving (Preserve)

The archiving process is of pivotal importance in highly regulated sectors such as the pharmaceutical industry, medical technology, energy supply, the transport industry and similar sectors. The existence of the company could come under threat in extreme cases if the documents required in a legal dispute cannot be provided in time or if their authenticity is not guaranteed. Conformance and Records Management is, however, of central importance in every company and in public administration. PDF/A reflects the creation of an ISO standard that fully accommodates today's requirements for electronic archiving.

Archiving process scenario

  • Legally sound archiving of all documents in electronic form

  • Fast access to archived information via indices, keywords and full text searching

  • Creation of scenarios concerning archiving efficiency and to safeguard future access to information

The role of PDF and PDF/A

  • Utilization of PDF/A as a standard format for archiving all documents within the company (reducing dependence on proprietary systems and suppliers)

  • Conversion of all corporate documents to PDF/A (scanned documents, images, MS Office, emails, websites, existing PDFs and many more)

  • Integration of all document-related information as metadata and Unicode text in the PDF, e.g. via OCR, text extraction or input of information into metadata from external databases

  • Digital signing of documents as proof of document integrity and the point in time when the signature was applied

  • Digital signing of entire archives prior to certificate expiry

  • Assurance that only PDF/A-conform documents enter the archive (gatekeeper function)

  • Archiving of incoming documents (including a PDF/A conformity check)

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