News & Case Studies
News & Case Studies
We'd like to share more about what we are doing. A lot of what we do starts with a website, but we are much more than that. We offer a wide range of unique skills and experience. We connect business systems and create custom solutions, a few of which are described in these case studies.
Excel Propane Business Process Automation
We partnered with Excel Propane to help them automate their business process. From form completion in the field to attachment on a cloud customer account.
This is an example of the unique skills offered by Shore FX and our ability to bring those together to automate an entire business process from end to end.
The goal: To help Excel move away from completing paper forms in the field. Instead, completing them electronically, collecting them in near real-time and attaching the electronic forms to a customer's online propane account automatically with no human involved to make that happen.
Excel had moved to a cloud Propane Gas management solution (Cargas) the prior year. Cargas provides an Application Programming Interface (API) to perform actions on a customer account including attaching forms and posting events to the account. This was one building block.
The next building block was to identify an electronic form solution. After some joint research and comparison of findings we converged on GoFormz. GoFormz is an app that runs on a ruggedized tablet. The tablet is used by Excel team members in the field. It can email a completed form, as an attachment, to a mailbox and will queue emails for sending later if the tablet is out of range of WiFi or cellular service. Excel was able to import their existing PDF forms and add electronic fill-in fields, giving their customer the experience of completing an electronic replica of Excel's paper forms.
Shore FX worked with GoFormz to configure the format of the email body so that it could be easily read by a software application. Various fields needed when "talking" to Cargas, through it's APIs were included in the email body. We setup a dedicated mailbox to receive emails from GoFormz.
Cargas requires incoming attachments to be "staged" on an SFTP server. Shore FX offers a hosted SFTP service. Another building block solved.
Finally, we created some "glue" software. We call it "glue" because it fills in the gaps between all the building blocks. It monitors the dedicated mailbox on a regular schedule. Reads the emails from GoFormz and extracts both the attachment and fields from the body. Using those fields, it builds a data package for Cargas, staging it on the SFTP server. Calls are made to Cargas APIs to trigger the pickup of the data package and add a note to the customers account creating an audit trail.
The solution has been running successfully since implementation. It was designed to be generic and grow with Excel. From their initial pilot, they have expanded the types of forms that are now processed electronically. If anomalies are detected the solution sends alerts to Shore FX and Excel with details.
We approached this challenge with our typical "can-do" mind-set and a hunger to learn. It's a great example of our ability to brainstorm with our customers, create a solution from scratch, think ahead to the future and design for the things our customer may not have thought of yet.