Focus toward On-Demand Access and Analysis
The Archdiocese of Chicago serves more than 2.3 million Catholics in Northeastern Illinois and oversees six colleges and universities, 215 elementary schools, 40 secondary schools, 20 hospitals, 47 cemeteries, and 357 parishes. In addition, its Catholic Charities division serves about one million people, at over 150 locations.
Not surprisingly, given its size, the Archdiocese of Chicago requires an IT infrastructure that rivals any large business. While its computing infrastructure is Windows-based, centralized on Microsoft SQL Server databases, the Archdiocese also utilizes an IBM iSeries (AS/400) server.
Several years ago, a number of the Archdiocese’s schools and parishes requested on-demand access to banking and financial reports in an electronic format, in place of monthly reports printed from the AS/400. These users wanted to avoid unnecessary print jobs, and have the ability to slice and dice data, analyze it, and otherwise review deposits, transactions, and balances in specific banking documents.
Senior Programmer Analyst Alex Shklovsky began researching IPDS conversion software and soon selected ExcelliPrint®, designed for mixed Windows and IBM environments, from Brooks Internet Software. “I looked at a number of other applications, but they were too expensive, priced at $2,000 and up, and didn’t provide many output formats. ExcelliPrint had much more functionality, at a lower cost, and my boss readily signed off on the $500 license (discounted for non-profits).”
Shklovsky installed ExcelliPrint on a Windows server, set up an automated process to convert AS/400 spool files to PDF formatted reports, enabled user permissions and designated file destinations folders. Once it was up and running, ExcelliPrint then allowed authorized users to quickly navigate to their reports whenever they wanted, and download PDF files to their desktops for analysis and review on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
“One major thing that was great was that once ExcelliPrint was installed and set up, there’s really not that much maintenance. It automatically converts AS/400 printer spool file output into PDFs, making the reports more presentable to our end users,” Shklovsky said. “Users really like working with the PDF reports, and this is a much easier, self-serve way to get information from the AS/400.”
Shklovsky also reported that the ExcelliPrint installation was fairly intuitive, online support documentation was helpful, and Brooks Internet Software help desk support was responsive and thorough.