ATOM is a closed-loop tracking solution that is designed to be used in a dynamic production environment driven by the need for real-time data and managing demanding workloads and high level of service.
The NearStar Accounting Tracking Operations Management (ATOM) system is a web application that provides tracking and accountability from receipt of print job request to delivery of documents.
Accounting management gives users the ability to determine how much a job costs based on the resources it consumes. Tracking management gives users the ability to know where every print job is in the system using ATOM's extensive search and query capabilities, as well as providing a system status at a glance via the dashboard. As an operations management tool, ATOM gives users the ability to see where the bottlenecks exist and modify workflows as needed to become more efficient.
As an end-to-end tracking solution, ATOM integrates Service Level (SLA) requirements based on a business driven rule set and provides a measurable event and time stamp for each tracking stage. Color-coded indicators provide an at-a-glance view of SLA metrics. Email alerts may be configured based on SLA parameters and displayed in the Tracking interface.
ATOM is able to integrate with a variety of post-finishing and mail insertion equipment using barcode scanning technology. As a result, each step of the post-finishing and fulfillment process is tracked as the job moves toward completion. Scans may also trigger event notifications informing customers of the job status. In a similar manner, ATOM is able to integrate with the USPS Intelligent Mail Barcode notification services and track mail confirmation delivery.
The NearStar ATOM platform, along with DataServer, provides a true end-to-end Print & Mail tracking solution that can assist operation management with the task of moving print out the door and into the hands of its customers.
The NearStar job tracking solution typically consists of multiple integration points that feed ATOM by passing job attributes based on intelligent data parsing and custom workflows from a variety of sources.
In the case of transactional data originating on the mainframe, the customer may opt to employ NearStar’s JES DataGateway Solution to capture and transmit mainframe print to DataServer, which provides the ability to parse attributes with each job for enhanced workflow capability. This information acts as a detailed set of instructions on how to print the job and provide critical information utilized in the job tracking process.
In addition to the ability to enable customized workflows from the mainframe environment, NearStar has been highly successful integrating its ATOM product into specialized customer applications designed to provide job ticketing and ordering information in highly complex print-on-demand environments. This allows customers the ability to manage the entire service level in near real-time and adjust its operational resources quickly.
Engineering extensible and flexible solutions is the cornerstone of the integration work performed by NearStar Professional Services. By designing its solutions to be vendor neutral and platform independent, NearStar can leverage unique multi-application environments and provide a single integration point. This simplifies the print floor operation and results in alleviating the bottlenecks usually associated with complex data requirements and a variety of print streams.
To this end, ATOM provides a centralized statistical collection point for every job from the moment it is received and provides a quick and accurate method for gathering data for charge-back and accounting, which can be imported into the customer’s accounting system or other reporting structure.
NearStar ATOM is a web application that provides automated and manual tracking capabilities through a variety of input. Most tracking events take place behind the scenes as ATOM gathers data from the enterprise output management system, printers, mail inserters, and addressing software or other collection points defined by the customer. However, ATOM is also flexible and provides the capability to receive manual input from scanning stations throughout the fulfillment process.
Since most print operations are unique, ATOM tracking is fully configurable to meet the customer’s criteria and is adjustable as requirements change. Effectively and efficiently, data is displayed in a consolidated dashboard (see figure 1) that reports job tracking statuses at configurable time intervals. Operators and managers can view the projected workloads in near real time and make any needed adjustments quickly.
The dashboard displays the most common job queries, but sometimes filtering on only one criterion is not enough. Individual Jobs may be queried in the tracking system using multiple criteria at the same time. For example, jobs can be filtered by tracking ID, order ID, job name, status, tasks pending, received time ranges and SLA time ranges.
Each view has a hyper-linked field for drilling down to the list of jobs that fall into that category. If you click on the quantity field of the SLA view, you will be taken to the View Jobs screen that lists only those jobs in the date range specified. If you click on the job status, you will get a list of jobs in that state. If you click on the job name in the Recent Jobs view, you will get a Job Details screen for that job. Clicking on a task name in the Projected Workload screen will get you a list of jobs waiting on that finishing task.
Typically, the ATOM tracking event originates when the print file is received by the Enterprise Output Management System (DataServer EOMS). ATOM receives an update when each tracking event completes, and each event is retained in an audit log with the job details.
As the events are logged throughout each step, ATOM receives an update that the task has been completed. If the step has not been completed in the finishing area, for example, the step is marked pending. In a scenario that has finishing steps, the job will not be marked complete until the last task is logged.
The default statuses are:
Accounting and charge-back is often considered one of the most time-consuming and labor intensive tasks associated with print operations centers. In very large print consolidation projects, for example, where a number of departments or agencies commingle print at one operations center, charge-back accounting becomes a daily task where several resources may be employed to gather “clean” accounting data.
As a central collection point for all print job data, ATOM Accounting and charge-back seamlessly stores all printing statistics in a RDBMS database that can be queried to provide custom reports and/or extracts to be imported into an accounting system.
Reporting capabilities enabled by the ATOM accounting module include: