The workflow starts with an Acrobat form generated by the sales team, who fill it in with a customer's details while on the phone. It is then submitted in Acrobat and, via XML, it is updated on to the Excel spreadsheet. After that, the same data is imported into an invoice (PDF) and then sent direct to the customer. That PDF is connected with a script to our veterinary database, which pulls in all the details into the form.
This saved the sales team around a day and a half in admin, which freed up more time for selling. It also saved the finance department half a day in admin, as it reduced the amount of time needed to carry out checks, and I was able to use the same XML data to produce a spreadsheet that they could import directly in to SAGE.
This procedure also benefited the production department. Because of our busy recruitment section, they deal with lots of text adverts that need placing within the publications each week. This became tedious, repetitive and time consuming. I made sure that when the sales team placed a order, they included the text on the order form, so that it automatically appeared on the spreadsheet next to the order.
When they filter the spreadsheet out for an issue, all the text files are present, and the text can then be copied and pasted into InDesign. Production then run a GREP over the document and it styles up ALL the text in one go. This procedure saved production nearly half a day overall too.
I completed this project about two years ago. It all came about not long after I completed the Acrobat 9 exam. When Acrobat released its brilliant forms workflow software, I knew there was huge potential to improve the business' workflow. I set about initially with the mission to improve the communication within the different departments, but it quickly got bigger and bigger.
It was the biggest project I have ever taken on, and it took me to the edge of breaking point! But I got there and the results proved that it was worth all the pain.
Looking back at it now, though, it all looks so easy…