Better Business Workflows: the Real Value of Conversion to PDF

Posted 9 December 2010 8:43 PM by Jade Cole

Google the term, “convert to PDF,” and you’ll see a plethora of links showcasing free, or practically free, software that converts your Word documents to PDF. That’s fine for students or someone wanting to make a homemade recipe book or some such project….

But what does that kind of PDF conversion mean in terms of supporting collaboration, or improving business processes? Nothing.

We ask the question, what is the business value in an engine that converts documents to PDF? Even if that engine has the ability to support more than 300 input file types with good-quality output, that doesn’t mean a whole lot if the task doesn’t improve business processes and collaboration.

Since PDF is an open standard, many organizations use PDF to communicate internally and externally. As a result, the process of creating a document that is acceptable for consumption can be fraught with peril. Documents being submitted to regulators must pass through a series of steps in order to ensure compliance.

These business processes are built into information systems as workflows. Throughout a workflow, aesthetic – and correctly formed – PDFs may need to be generated. So the real value of a server-based PDF conversion engine is being able to integrate with business workflows.

To plug into business processes, it’s important to understand what the rendering requirements are from a workflow perspective. Rendering requirements are defined at different stages of a workflow. For example, a document may require watermarking before final distribution.

Adlib’s standards-based architecture allows it to be interfaced with workflow engines such as K2 or Nintex – which covers the technical aspects of deploying workflows – but organizations also need to understand their workflows from a business perspective – specifically:

  • What are the sources of these documents, and who is the intended audience?
  • Who are the “owners” and “approvers” in the workflow chain?
  • At various stages of the process, how does the document properly present its status?
  • What is the current process, and what tool(s) are being used to manage it?
  • What are the archival requirements for this document (i.e. PDF/A)?

A conversion engine that can address these kinds of needs – that’s what we mean when we talk about “convert to PDF”!

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