How do your traveling (or remote) users access critical reports? Do they view them on an output queue? Are they delivered via Federal Express, UPS, or the United States Postal Service? What happens if they lose a report?
We could go on and on about all of the issues involved with report data on the iSeries. We already know the big pitfalls of viewing reports left on the output queue: They're not backed up, and they're very susceptible to being deleted accidentally. Plus, access to the information on an output queue requires a connection to the iSeries via VPN or dial-up. And anytime we open our system up to the Internet, there are significant security issues.
Many companies send reports via "snail" mail to their offsite users. This process is very expensive and slow. The information could take days to catch up with the remote users, especially when they are traveling. And what happens if they lose a report? How can they reprint it? Some companies tackle this problem by emailing PDF files to end users. This is an option, but it does tend to fill up and bog down email servers.
So how do you reproduce a report for users? Often, we can't, unless the report is still on the output queue. That's a big problem for the programmers or data center group trying to reproduce the report. You can use queries as a substitute for this information, or you can manually change some system flags to reprint the report, but that's not the best use of your time while the user waits.
About 18 months ago, Robot/REPORTS introduced a Web browser interface, the Robot Browser Interface, for report viewing. Suddenly, you have state-of-the-art technology for your legacy greenbar reports. The Robot Browser Interface is just one of the many features Robot/REPORTS provides for delivering reports electronically to remote users.
Figure 1: You can view iSeries reports from anywhere in the world if you have a Web browser and an OS/400 sign-on. (Click image to enlarge.)
When you use the Robot Browser Interface, you can view multiple reports on multiple servers from a single location, using any standard Web browser. That provides great convenience and ease-of-use, but what about security?
Robot/REPORTS stores your report data, encrypted and secure, in its own database and tracks who views or gets reports. For safekeeping, you can archive reports to alternate media for retention periods that you establish. Robot/REPORTS has built-in security by user profile, which controls recipients' abilities to view reports. The result is a reporting environment so secure that it will even please your security auditors.
Robot/REPORTS is a complete, integrated toolset designed to handle the entire process of iSeries report management. Some companies use one tool for backing up output queues, another for creating PDF files, a third for report distribution, a fourth for downloading files to Excel, and maybe even a fifth to split reports. That's lots of tools without much integration. With Robot/REPORTS, you get one package that can handle the workload of all those tools. Try Robot/REPORTS and start reducing your costs while streamlining the process of communicating critical business data to your users quickly.
To learn more about Robot/REPORTS, click here. And check out Help/Systems' other offerings in the MC Showcase Buyer's Guide.
Tom Huntington is Vice President of Technical Services for Help/Systems, Inc.