ARAG puts its trust in webPDF conversion software

One of the largest and most respected insurance groups in Germany has been using webPDF as its conversion solution since 2019. The family-owned insurance company ARAG employs more than 4,100 people, has two principal offices in Düsseldorf and Munich, and operates in 19 countries.

You can only begin to imagine the enormous volumes of emails (both internal and external) that such a big corporation generates and receives every day. This always involves documents in a wide range of different formats that have to be processed and stored. Such emails and other files also need to be available later in a single standardized format for further action and long-term archiving.

What makes email archiving such a challenge for businesses?

  • Long-term archiving of emails and documents must be legally compliant, meaning that you have to maintain all data in an appropriate and uniform format.
  • Archiving needs to adhere to privacy and data protection regulations.
  • Businesses have to standardize (i.e. convert) documents of every format, including emails and their attachments, into one uniform configuration, such as PDF or PDF/A, flawlessly and in a manner that requires little effort and expense.

Major corporations facing a deluge of data (especially from emails) may need to turn to a well-suited conversion software application, which they often task their IT departments with implementing. In this case, the IT service providing company ARAG IT GmbH headquartered in Düsseldorf integrated webPDF for the ARAG group.

Sought and found: A stroke of luck called webPDF

Here is how Frank Gronenborn from ARAG IT’s application development department and Markus Schreiner, the document management team leader at ARAG, described the situation prior to deploying webPDF and how the collaboration with SoftVision Development came about.

“Here at ARAG, and since about 2005, we had been using an in-house developed software that we needed to not only archive emails and their attachments, but to first of all covert them (in tif or jpg) after which the data was transferred into the system. We saw a tremendous daily increase in email correspondence and a flood of different incoming data formats after 2005. Our in-house conversion tool just could not keep pace with the volume and we began looking for one that could. Although our search started out the classic way by doing research on the internet, we were unable to find a suitable provider at first and there often arose concerns about privacy and data protection. Another critical factor was that the software had to be an on-premises solution. And then our luck hit the jackpot with webPDF.” Here Gronenborn and his colleague Schreiner explain the benefits of the solution in more detail:

“In many of our departments here at ARAG, some 70-80% of communications and inquiries are made via email. Before we introduced webPDF, we had to use a complex process that often involved manual intervention to convert and file each individual email along with all of the documents that arrived in differing formats. Besides being a vastly leaner software application, webPDF also delivers nothing less than the maximum in time savings.”

Introducing the conversion solution at ARAG

Here Gronenborn and Schreiner describe what happened after the webPDF rollout at ARAG. “We are still seeing big advances since the launch of webPDF in late 2019. Back in the day, for example, there were certain formats that we were just unable to convert. webPDF made this obstacle a thing of the past, which in turn marks a great improvement for our customers. We are currently employing webPDF at our two locations in Düsseldorf and Munich and, of course, every department within ARAG uses these PDF documents. The only time users really notice the application is when the webPDF display reproduces superb PDFs the likes of which were more often than not a rarity in the past. Quality like this leads to exceptionally favorable feedback. Once converted, the document looks exactly like a real email – a positive characteristic that our users cannot help but notice. The response to the webPDF conversion software application has been altogether favorable, and the solution itself has made a truly remarkable difference!”

Gronenborn recalls the launch. “The webPDF rollout was professional and executed flawlessly. We were somewhat hesitant and anxious about the implementation at first, simply because emails make up such a large part of our operation and any number of far-reaching problems could arise. To be on the safe side, we started out by converting only a portion of the emails and leaving another part on our old system. After going all out with webPDF in early 2020, we are now using this solution to convert all emails. Along with webPDF, we still use our old converter as a fallback system that springs into action in an emergency and which will eventually be dropped entirely. Something worth pointing out here is how excellent the speed of implementation was despite our cautious approach.”

SoftVision support and looking ahead

Here is how Gronenborn sums up the current situation:

“Communications with SoftVision support are nothing less than superb and we enjoy regular, lively contacts and an outstanding dialog. Yes, there are still a few bugs that have to be fixed, but we have only praise for the support team. Communication takes place on a very deep, technical level, which is something truly extraordinary.”

“We expect to expand our collaboration with SoftVision following the successful rollout of webPDF as our conversion software application,” said Gronenborn. “Here the focus will be on PDF being the sole archiving format at ARAG. In this case, the webPDF tool will form a vitally important component for our archiving program.

“The goal is to ensure that all accumulated documents are available as PDFs. These documents should also be searchable and contain coded information. This will allow staffers within the respective departments to easily copy and paste sections of documents – something that will be tremendously helpful in processing and handling the many and varied applications our customers send us. Something else to look forward to is the ability for users to enhance the PDFs with comments, markings, and so forth and save them within the document. This step, however, assumes that our PDF-only policy be implemented first.

“Our glance into the future shows a great number of possibilities for us, including robotic process automation (RPA) as a form of business process automation. The important thing right now is that all emails are available in PDF format and then be searchable using OCR as well. The 2020 year will also see paper, scanned and faxed documents assembled and converted with webPDF.”

“We’re currently saving an enormous amount of process time thanks to being able to precisely and reliably covert huge batches of documents using webPDF’s email conversion function. Not only does this entirely eliminate yesterday’s time-consuming, yet necessary, work steps, it also results in far fewer errors.”

Markus Schreiner from document management added, “Of the documents ARAG received in 2019, 52.4% came by email. The remainder were faxed and classic paper documents. The type of media used varies greatly between the departments; some work with emails exclusively while others primarily employ scanners, fax machines and paper. So far, at ARAG, we have shifted the biggest channel (email) and standardized it using webPDF. Because we had such great results, we want to follow this up with two additional channels, namely scans and faxes. The plan then calls for implementing webPDF services so that faxes and scans also become searchable PDFs using OCR. The ultimate goal is to eliminate media disruptions and have everything run via PDF and subsequently OCR. In the final expansion stage, and with just one standardized format and the machine-readable data from the document, this OCR will be able to operate much better than today.”