One industry that’s noticing an increasing need for digital change is agriculture. When you’re working with farmers, vendors and government agencies all at once there can be a lot to keep up with. From forms and individual processes, to the strict food and safety regulations that come with the industry, managing all of these on a singular system can be a game changer.
A thought leader in the world of ECM, the State of Nebraska, is known for making digital initiatives a priority. Along with multiple other departments, they began rolling out business automation processes in their own agricultural department. Take a look at this guest blog by, Jared Josza, Senior Applications Developer at the State of Nebraska, for an in-depth look at the Image Form Composition solution he helped build for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
Guest blog by Jared Jozsa
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) came to us in need of an application form for their Food Safety and Consumer Protection division that could be used when someone was applying to open a new establishment, paying renewal fees and reinstatement fees for an existing establishment, changing an existing establishment (i.e. from a bar to a restaurant) or applying for approval to sell their products at a single event (food vendor festival, etc.). The form was comprised of three main pieces:
- The base application form – easily done with Unity Forms.
- The capability to print a receipt for payment
- Generate and print a Citizenship Attestation Form
A few days into our design, we discovered a key element that was not previously taken into consideration: the Citizen Attestation piece. This part of the form asks all applicants who are “qualified aliens” to provide their status, identification number, and signature, all of which needed to be captured on this form. The Citizen Attestation form was also required to have a retention policy that was twice that of the general application form and it needed to have separate permissions granted to it, as once the attestation form was signed and submitted, only certain people were allowed to access it.
Enter Image Form Composition (IFC). My team had our eyes on IFC since it was first announced and had been looking forward to getting our hands on it. Needless to say, we thought we had stumbled upon a perfect use case to get our feet wet with this module. After presenting IFC to our client, they were ecstatic – the decision was made to get the license, get the module installed, and get to work.
The first thing we did was get a hold of the NDA’s current paper forms for the attestation and receipt. We scanned those images in, set them as the background, and did our unity field mapping. We hit a few roadblocks and spent quite a bit of time reading over the MRG. After some trial and error, we were able to put together a working solution to demo to the client.
We showed them that, by using cross-references, when the user opens a completed application form, they are able to see both the related receipt for payment as well as the attestation form. Additionally, the inspectors should not have access to the attestation document once it has been submitted, only the management staff and IFC makes that a possibility since the attestation form becomes its own document type after it is saved.
What We Learned
As previously mentioned, we hit a few roadblocks, all in all, though, we had a positive experience using IFC, and look forward to future enhancements being made to the module in versions to come. The IFC needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis, since some of the issues pointed out below may cause more headache than necessary in regard to certain aspects of the solution that is being built.
- Unity Forms can be designed with one purpose in mind – purely for gathering data and not for presenting said data
- Printed reports would look much more professional
- Printed reports would contain only necessary information in a consolidated layout
- Forms with regulatory layouts can be developed in OnBase where it wouldn’t have been a possibility before
- Access to specific pieces of data can be more easily controlled by the inspector and office staff
- No way to migrate Image Form solutions – they need to be recreated manually in each environment
- The eForm that contains the image template must be available to the users and could cause confusion/crowd their screens
- Keyword lists must stay consistent with the 3 required doc types (UF, eForm, image) – if a keyword is added, it would need to be added to all 3 doc types
- The configuration files for both Unity and Briefcase need to be updated with each new mapping solution
- The configuration file settings are based on id numbers for the specific environment in which the solution is being used – this means that the config files would need to be updated per environment
- When the process fails, a message still displays stating that the form has saved successfully
- Could potentially slow down the opening of large Unity Forms
Items to Consider:
- Studio|Unity Scripts: When Building the script, the build results don’t show up in the Build Results tab – the only place it shows up is on the Output tab
- Can’t map Calculated fields
*Note: This list is of items is based on an OnBase Build 18.104.22.168. These considerations may have changed in following builds.
Jared Josza – Senior Applications Developer at the State of Nebraska
Jared has been at the state since 2014, and has been working with OnBase ever since. He is also a certified OnBase System Administrator, a Workflow Administrator, and a Workview Developer.