Multi-Channel Output Management – DocBridge Pilot at the state government of Kärnten in Austria

“The Compart solution works perfectly with our document-generating systems; they functioned well together from the very beginning without any major problems.“

Robert Kawalar

State Government of Carinthia (Austria)

Central Hub: Multi-Channel Output Management System Controls the Document Delivery

In connection with administrative reform, the Office of the State Government of Carinthia (Austria) set up dual delivery for documents related to criminal proceedings. The principle: Companies and citizens immediately receive decisions and correspondence in electronic form if they are registered with an approved delivery service. The remaining documents are sent from the state’s print center through traditional mail. The technological core of the architecture is the DocBridge Pilot solution, which controls physical dispatch including mail bundling and postage optimisation.

2 million
pages
annual print volume

Dual delivery

600,000 mailings annually

Postage-optimized mail bundling

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Hub Klagenfurt

A central output management system (OMS) at the Office of the State Government of Carinthia, Austria, controls printing and delivery of nearly 1.5 million pages of documents each year. The techological core of the OMS is the DocBridge Pilot solution, which converts documents delivered from the upstream systems into PCL and bundles them for postage-optimized mailing.

As part of a governmental reform, the Office of the State Government of Carinthia (AKL) decided to introduce the “dual delivery” principle for criminal proceedings in mid 2012. The rationale: Recipients registered with a federally approved delivery service such as MeinBrief.at, eVersand.at, or Postserver.at could now receive their documents from the authorities electronically. All others would continue to receive correspondence in the traditional hardcopy form.
The office also decided at that time to retain its print center in Klagenfurt rather than outsource printing to an external service provider. This was all predicated on a comprehensive feasibility study with a gap analysis and a business plan. Today nearly 1.5 million pages come off the central production line in the state capital. They are bundled into approximately 450,000 mailings, placed in envelopes, stamped, and posted. Yet these figures far from reflect the total print volume: an additional 20 million pages per year are output on approximately 600 local printer systems.

The feasibility study closely examined the choice of hard- and software. The main concern was preparing the documents for physical and electronic delivery from the specialized applications with as few problems as possible. docolution GmbH (www.docolution.com), a specialist for complex output management projects, assisted AKL with the analysis and subsequent conversion.

One Pilot controls printing

The centerpiece of the new architecture is a system from hpc Dual (Send Station) that takes the documents from the applications, furnishes them with an official electronic signature and then prepares them for physical or electronic delivery. Each recipient is first checked for registration with an electronic delivery service. When appropriate, the external service provider delivers the document digitally. Electronically delivered documents still number in the thousands. But the trend for the near future is clear: More and more documents will reach their recipients in digital form.

In the meantime, traditional hardcopy delivery (still) predominates. To this end, the office has set up an output management system (OMS) that accepts the documents scheduled for printing. Its technological foundation is DocBridge Pilot, software developed by Compart for managing and optimizing mailings. This central output pool supports not only physical mail but all types of modern digital delivery (e-mail, Secure Mail, Web, mobile end devices). The incoming documents to be processed are analyzed on the receiving side and all criteria required for their further processing are extracted in the form of metadata, such as page content and optical mark recognition (OMR), barcodes or text. While DocBridge Pilot assigns the documents to a central mailing pool, the metadata is stored in a relational database.

System automatically distinguishes delivery method

The Compart solution modifies the data (e.g., converts to another output format, adds data for downstream processing), applies a barcode for enveloping, and passes it to the printing/finishing line. At the State Government Office of Carinthia, documents come from the Send Station in PDF format along with the associated checksum files (MD5) and are then written to an incoming directory on the OMS server. The PDFs are separated by socalled profiles (defined by the upstream system when transmitting to the Send Station) oriented to the departments. For instance, there are separate categories (stacks) for administrative penalties, housing promotion, and for all output from SAP systems. They are also sorted by delivery type (“RSa” for personal delivery to the recipient, “RSb” for delivery to a substitute, “nonRSa” for standard mail) as well as delivery criteria such as postage, envelope size, etc.

Print center retrieves orders independently

If the MD5 checksum files pass the related check, they are prepared as a job on the OMS server (interval: 15 minutes). DocBridge Pilot converts the PDF documents (input format) into PCL files (output format) and copies them into a directory accessible to the employees (print operators). FYI: The MD5 message digest algorithm is a special security feature to ensure data integrity when downloaded.
An LPR command initiates the actual printing. Line Printer Remote (LPR), like Line Printer Daemon (LPD), is a platform-independent printer protocol that runs under TCP/IP. It was originally developed for Unix Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) but has become the de-facto standard in the desktop world. The PCL data stream also contains information on the required paper tray to allow printing on different types of paper. For penalties, for example, the amount of the fine is also printed on a SEPA payment form. Enveloping is controlled via a 2D barcode on the front page of the document. The enveloped mailings are then sorted into individual baskets (domestic, EU, foreign, C4, C5, or C6 envelopes, official return receipts) and then passed on to the mailroom for franking (IT franking).

Differentiation by postage class simplifies invoicing

The State Government Office of Carinthia intentionally chose this type of delivery system. They wanted flexibility, and the output management system (OMS) built around DocBridge Pilot processes all familiar data formats (PCL, PDF, PostScript, and many more), so the basic existing architecture did not require updating. “The Compart solution works perfectly with our document-generating systems; they functioned well together from the very beginning without any major problems,” explains Robert Kawalar of the State Administrative Office.

Rudolf Köller, manager for internal base systems, sees the main benefit of the update in the consolidation of output management. “DocBridge Pilot laid the cornerstone for what we have today: central mailing that is completely automated. “Automatic address recognition allows sorting into postage classes, which makes invoicing considerably easier.” According to Kawalar, the introduction of the hybrid return-receipt letter (RSa, RSb) resulted in a closed process from document creation and preparation for physical and electronic delivery to receipt verification, which is automatically sent to the system that generated the document.

All systems a perfect ensemble

To better understand the scope of the project requires a closer look at the overall architecture of document processing. The goal was to implement the new output management system (OMS) using the existing systems.

Components are classified as Level 1 and 2, with their tasks described in the following:

Level 1

  1. DOMEA (ELAK system of the State of Carinthia)
    Central program to manage digital records. Records are processed according to defined procedures. For “anonymous access,” the record is completely electronic. (FYI: “Anonymous access” is primarily used for minor traffic violations in Austria. The vehicle owner is granted anonymous access, and if the fine is paid on time, the culprit remains anonymous).
  2. “Fine Program”
    Central specialized application used to process administrative penalties. It is based on DOMEA.
  3. Central Components
    Time-driven programs on the server to ensure seamless operation.
  4. “Fine Cockpit”
    Used to monitor automatic processes.
  5. SAP-ERP System
    All claims are posted here in real time via an interface. All accounting steps are performed in SAP.

Level 2

  1. UDCS Universal Document Creation Service
    Used to general all documents that fall under the administrative penalty category.
  2. Oracle Database
    All systems have an Oracle database that is managed according to a customized schema.
  3. DOM – Document Output Service
    Takes the documents from different upstream systems and passes them on to the external delivery service. The upstream system provides all the information required for delivery.
  4. Dual Delivery
    The program transmits to the appropriate server the documents for recipients registered for electronic delivery. All others are send to the print center.
  5. Print Center
    Printing, enveloping, franking of all documents slated for physical delivery. Hand-off to postal provider.

 

The following graphic illustrates how the system components interact:
Dual Delivery Document Output-Management

The new system has been fully operational in all of Carinthia’s district authorities since the end of 2012. It was launched in Villach, where the architecture was initially tested, and after a successful trial was distributed to all the other districts (Klagenfurt, Spittal/Drau, Hermagor, Feldkirchen, St.Veit an der Glan, Völkermarkt and Wolfsberg). The new print center began operations in December of the same year.

Technical competence of the consultants and reliability of the software

As Robert Kawalar recalls, there were no critical phases during the conversion. “What is most important to me is docolution’s technical competence and nonbureaucratic approach. That, combined with the reliability of the Compart solution, was key for the seamless conversion.” According to Kawalar, even short-term change requests were not a problem for the docolution consultants. The office will also pursue further document processing initiatives in the future. For example, it is planning to integrate external locations (e.g., communities) into the new architecture. The hybrid return receipt, for instance, will be expanded to all state departments and district authorities. A process for returning original documents is also being planned.

Organizations that want to modernize their output management in this or a similar way should not rush, recommends Kawalar. “What is important is that the architecture is structured such that it functions with the various upstream systems and supports the resulting data streams and formats. It’s the only way for an organization to remain flexible in the face of market changes, such as the emergence of new delivery channels.”

The manager also recommends an incremental approach and an implementation partner that has not only the necessary OM expertise but is also the right “fit.” Finally, Kawalar underscores that smooth sailing is ensured only if all the pieces of the document processing cycle function well as a whole, i.e., from document generation to printing and delivery.  Why? “It is absolutely essential that agencies be able to seamlessly track documents through every process step.”

© vege fotolia

The Office of the State Government of Carinthia (AKL)

The Office of the State Government of Carinthia (AKL) in Austria consists of ten departments, nine of which are truly specialized (including Finance, Municipalities, Social Issues, Health, Economy, Environment, Construction, Land and Forestry Management ) and one (State Administrative Office) that is responsible for general issues (including safety and security, elections, citizenships, constitutional service, information technology, human resources). The State Administrative Office serves as the interface between policymakers, administration and citizens. In addition to the AKL, there are also district authorities, municipalities, decentralized judicial entities, regional authorities and institutions of the State of Carinthia. The governor heads up the state government, and state office manager is responsible for internal services. The departments fulfill the tasks of state management under the professional leadership of the state government or the individual members of government (officers).

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