Inforama Case Study - 123.ie
123.ie is the leading on-line insurance provider in Ireland offering home, motor, life, health and travel insurance via their website and call centre. As an on-line insurance provider 123.ie need to have a highly efficient IT infrastructure to move applications from their website forms and through the back-end workflow. Their infrastructure also needs to be scalable to accommodate a rapidly growing company of this sort.
There is a diverse mix of technologies in use in 123.ie with .NET being used mainly to power user-facing back-end applications. Their main policy database runs on MySQL version 5 and most of their server applications run on Java using either Tomcat or JBoss Application Server. There is a tendency to move more towards Open Source technologies and products as the business needs dictate.
Prior to adopting Inforama, 123.ie had been generating customer documentation with the help of Crystal Reports. This approach was resource intensive as the IT department was called upon to create reports as they were needed. Also the reports themselves weren't suited to creating free-flowing letters of the sort required for customer communications. 123.ie also send out a large amounts of application forms which need to be filled in by customers. This can be quite a lengthy and confusing task for customers and it made sense that the forms be prefilled with customer information.
The Crystal Reports which were being created by the IT department needed to be integrated with the .NET front end applications and in turn got deployed to each desktop machine running the applications resulting in an administrative headache.
123.ie wanted a document automation system that would allow letter templates to be created by non-technical users with the ability to deploy changes without the intervention of the IT department. They also wanted to pre-populate Acrobat application forms automatically from their main policy database.
Integrating with their .NET front-end systems via web services interfaces was also a basic requirement so as to have as little impact as possible on their existing systems.
Creating Document Templates
Inforama Designer is installed on the machines of users who create and edit the Inforama projects along with OpenOffice which is used as the word processer within Inforama. The users simply create new letters or amend existing ones and insert placeholders where customer and policy information should appear. Letters are written in a familiar word processing environment with all of the functionality one expects from it such as font formatting, line spacing, colours, tables and page breaks.
Similarly, PDF application forms are marked with database information and are pre-populated with data before being sent to customers. These Acrobat forms are imported into the Inforama project and the Acrobat fields are marked with database fields which should be used to populate them.
Projects created in the Designer are deployed to the JBoss Application Server running within 123.ie. This deployment can be done directly from the Designer by pointing at the Inforama server. Alternatively Inforama projects can be uploaded via the web interface directly onto the browser.
Once deployed the project configuration file just needs to be amended to point to the production database. Other settings such as whether to use the in-built document repository within Inforama can be set.
The .NET applications running within 123.ie needed to be changed to generate documents using Inforama via web service calls instead of the Crystal Reports which were previously used. In most cases these calls send the name of the document or document pack to be generated along with the ID of the policy which will be used to populate the document.
Inforama has increased the number of documents that are emailed to customers resulting in a significant reduction in postage costs. The IT department is no longer called on when a document needs to be created or amended. Inforama has paid for itself within months of being deployed.