The ADF Evolution – It’s All About Workflow

August 23, 2013
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When Gartner introduced the concept of the Automated Document Factory (ADF) back in 1996, the three key modules – Input, Transformation and Integrated Output, and Delivery Preparation, plus a fourth Control and Reporting module sitting over the other three - transformed the way organizations looked at high-volume document creation and management.

Fast-forward a decade to ADF 2.0, two additional modules – Document Design and Content Integration and Response Management – raised the bar even further and provided technology and print service providers with a strategy and framework for 21st-century customer communications.

Understanding real workflows

So where are we now in 2013? Well, with many organizations migrating from monochrome to color – where the options are usually to go back to legacy programs or use post-processing software to re-engineer documents with enhancements for color – being successful with ADF is all about understanding real workflows. And there are many.

Today’s ADF has to be able to accept multiple print streams, job types and sizes, and consolidate, bundle and present these jobs to the printer and rendering equipment in the best workflow possible and save on postage via greater mailing densities and/or print and mail suppression.

Fundamentally, the workflow should be able to use preference management to send the document in the format that today’s demanding customers want – whether that’s email, drop box, paper, digital mailbox, or whatever.

In fact, multi-channel customer communication is a key capability – and advantage – of the modern ADF. It can, and should, provide an end-to-end, cost-effective approach to mission-critical document production to meet all customers’ needs.

ADF also requires a different mind-set internally too. It needs to be regarded not just as an organizational cost, but as a vital, accurate and efficient customer communication system.

Organizations need to re-evaluate their current document production workflow solutions and search for products offering enhanced workflow to manage data from capture to document creation, transformation, and digital print and mail production.

Enhancing TransPromo

In TransPromo document-production workflow, for example, the most important key to creating successful TransPromo documents is the use of relevant, timely and accurate data to drive the inclusion of promotional offers that ‘speak’ to customers’ needs.

The difficulty and expense of working within multiple legacy systems, combined with the advent of the tools now available at the ADF level, is driving many organizations to shift TransPromo document creation away from legacy systems and toward ADF.

Today, the evolving ADF is bigger, better, and more complex, with ADF leaders increasingly being asked to support post-legacy creation and production of mission-critical, hybrid documents.

New functionality

The ADF concept began as a way for production print and mail managers to increase production quality while reducing production costs. As ADF strategies have evolved, new functions to support color printing, content management, document composition, and response management systems have emerged.

These recent trends have forced ADF leaders to go beyond automated document production and look at the automating the entire document lifecycle.

In the future, more ADFs will assume the function of document composition from the many legacy systems where it is done redundantly, centralizing enterprise document composition in the ADF.

So, for the evolving ADF, the future looks promising…



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