Consider a scenario in your organization where many departments need several documents to carry out a business task. The cost would increase dramatically with storage of paper documents and also it consumes lot of time for submitting and processing the items. This can easily be solved with Eforms server in place that will submit the paper online and a strong repository that can store all the documents and follow business process management. IBM Lotus Eforms Server for forms processing and Alfresco as a CMS Repository and Workflow Engine would fit best to fulfill all the requirements.

Architectural Diagram

Why IBM Lotus Eforms 

Electronic forms (EForms) processing enables organizations to easily collect information through online forms and process the requests in accordance with defined business procedures. The objective is to ease and speed the collection of the data and automates the processing of that information. It allows them to fill out form and submit the information electronically in the format like PDF, HTML.This is the most cost effective way for an organization to move from a paper based forms process to an automated Eforms solution. Eforms is the replacement for the approach in which   user have to fills in a paper form which is later scanned and converted to a digital format.

Below are the key features that will be utilized by Eforms server.

1) Storage

Alfresco can store huge amount of document.

2) Workflow Automation

Workflow automation is one of the most important components to an Eforms system. Electronic forms processing without workflow is simple data collection. Forms are filled in so the information can be processed. The workflow engine that is embedded within the alfresco Server performs this processing. The handling of a completed form may involve the interaction of multiple people and external systems. It is common to route forms for a review and approval process, and after approval some action is taken.

3) Email Notifications

Email Notification can be provided form alfresco. Whenever the document is submitted from Eforms server to Alfresco for the workflow process, notification goes to the user. At all the stage of process notification is made using emails.

4) Cost effective

Within Eforms server forms are submitted to alfresco in XFDL format. In order to save cost we have chosen an approach to convert this template into PDF format and store it in alfresco along with XFDL. As such storage of only XFDL is fine but to open XFDL additional viewer is required. Thus we have provided a mechanism to open PDF from workflow that is actual representation of XFDL form.

Integration - Technology:

To integrate Alfresco and Eforms sever, two technologies can be used - Webscripts (HTTP based) and Webservices (SOAP based). SOAP can be considered over HTTP in a case we require:

1) Loosely coupled integration

2) Exposing the methods securely

3) Automation of serialization and deserialization process (The SOAP Server library handles it)

Summary:

Applications using Eforms server which has the key feature of Digital Signatures, mechanism to create flattened PDFs and online submission of forms require huge storage of data and complex business processes to be followed.  SUch requirements can easily be met by integrating Eforms server with Alfresco.

By

Amita Bhandari,Hetal Patel

Consultants, CIGNEX