A large part of organizations value lies in its documents. Be it agreements, invoices, white papers or the flood of emails, retaining digital documents and business records in a manner that they cannot be easily altered is critical, for instance, for strengthening the organization’s intellectual property or in demonstrating proof in legal disputes. This legal requirements for archiving business documents mandates the need for porting different kinds of document types to a uniform, long-term format that can be searched for full text and, at the same time, can contain important metadata. As emails comprise the bulk of business communications and information exchange, the archiving format has to have the capability to handle file attachments. Pivotal to this is the consolidation of email along with the attachments into dossiers for quick and reliable accessibility. With stricter compliance and legislation regarding the privacy, protection and preservation of business data, picking the right archiving format is of paramount significance.

The ISO Standard Format

Portable Document Format or PDF format is industry standard for digital document exchange and is the ideally suited for the long-term digital archiving. But business documents come in different types, from word documents to spreadsheets, from PowerPoint slides to scanned TIFF images, from email messages to faxed documents. Archiving such myriad of file types can be a real overhead for the IT team, especially if related files are not organized and stored as a single unit. Retrieval of such documents from archive and working with these different file types can be quite a nuisance too, as one would need to have a system that have all the associated software apps installed to read them. What really would be ideal in such scenario is to have every related documents embedded or combine to a single one PDF document with bookmarks or table of content to reference the related documents or files in the document. In fact, multiple documents naturally belong together, such as quotation, sales order and invoice, or an email and its attachments. Combining such documents together makes it easy to see their relationship.

However, combining different document types to PDF is not a straightforward job. PDF editors like Adobe Acrobat can do most is to embed the different document types as attachments in native file formats to the parent PDF document. Though this arrangement may solve the nuisance of dealing with multiple files, it does little to remove the dependency of multiple software apps requirement to view the embedded attachments. Moreover, text search won’t function on the embedded attachments, a significant handicap in information discovery for the organizations. So, reducing or eliminating the need for proprietor apps of the documents is the key in successfully implementing an effective archival system.

There are certain specialized tools that aid such conversions. File to PDF is a versatile app for conversion of different types of documents into one PDF file, with table of contents inserted as bookmarks for quick accessibility of the section of the PDF document that forms the intrinsic file.

Generating a single one PDF file out of your multiple documents of different types is as easy as selecting those documents in your Windows Explorer and clicking ‘Combine to One Pdf‘ from the context menu.

And what you get is a one PDF file containing those selected documents in the sequence you have selected – all converted to PDF format themselves. Table of Contents or bookmarks are also automatically added to the final one PDF file for easy reference of individual document. As of this writing, more than 120 types of documents, including compressed ZIP file (which contains child files within) were supported for seamless conversion to PDF without external dependencies.

For combining emails and attachments to one PDF document, Email to PDF extension for Microsoft Outlook is a little app that gets the job done, with table of contents inserted as bookmarks for easy reference of the section that contains the email body and attachments.

Notice in the PDF output document below (screenshot), when the attachment is a composite or compressed file (i.e., files within a file) such as a ZIP or MSG or EML file, the PDF add-in automatically scan and include these intrinsic files into the final merged PDF document.

Conclusion

The PDF ISO standard opens up new opportunities for the long-term archiving of business documents and e-mails. By converting documents to PDF format for archiving instead of using the different original formats, organizations can leverage many benefits:

  • Reduce the hindrance of dealing with multiple documents, say for a project or email.
  • Drastically reduce the number of software apps and environment required to extract information from archived documents. PDF being universal format, one can use any devices to access information quickly and securely.
  • Reduce storage space with compressed PDF
  • Reduce management overhead as there are fewer documents and just one universal file format
  • Because the associated documents are in PDF format, these are fully searchable.
 

SharePoint has become a de-facto platform for storing and sharing business data in lists, document libraries etc. But unlike the ease of reporting and running statistics on relational database, SharePoint on its own does not provide such flexibility when it comes to extracting business intelligence. Due to this limitation, often, managers might find themselves spending a lot of time and resource in exporting data to spreadsheet, and performing manual computation and parsing. Some organizations even use specialized data professionals and a dozen different software packages, just to produce simple reports. Worst, if the report doesn’t have the required information, you will have to start over, wasting precious time.

As there is a time and expense involved in getting answers from SharePoint lists, a lot of business intelligence information often goes unused, due to that fact that, SharePoint is designed to store data, and not to help you analyze it.

Mining intelligence and insights from data stored in SharePoint

The AssistMyTeam OLAP tool for SharePoint, is designed to give you a simple and yet powerful tool to configure OLAP cube from your SharePoint lists, and then analyze and create reports straightaway, out of the box. It is perfectly suited to spot new trends and discover unknown problems from your data that are stored in SharePoint lists.

In the OLAP SharePoint Manager tool, you can enter the URL of your SharePoint site (e.g.. http://companyweb/) to show up all the available lists in a hierarchical tree from which you can select a particular SharePoint list to configure for OLAP Cube. Alternatively, you can also enter the URL of the particular SharePoint list (e.g.. http://companyweb/Lists/Tasks/AllItems.aspx) to directly load the available fields in the grid for cube configuration. With either techniques, you can choose which SharePoint fields to include in the cube. You can also set aggregate function for the measure fields or define new derived fields such as a hierarchy or a calculated field.

You can add your own derived OLAP fields such as a composite hierarchical field (e.g.. Project-Task) or a calculated field (e.g.. Total Project Budget), based on existing SharePoint fields. For easy recognition, derived fields are distinctly colored and highlighted (in green).

New OLAP composite dimension – E.g. Project – Task

New OLAP calculated member – E.g. Total Project Budget

Once you have chosen which fields or dimensions to include in the statistic, you can select aggregate functions such as count, distinct count, sum, average, maximum or minimum for those numeric or currency fields, so as to set them as ‘measures’ in the OLAP cube.

When you click the ‘Run Statistics‘ button, it would generate a cube, which will be loaded in the OLAP Statistics tool that consists of the Grid and Chart Views as shown below. This OLAP Client tool, consists of the Grid and Chart Views. On the left is the Cube structure – measures and hierarchies as a tree. The measures are grouped in the set, displayed in the branch. All the rest of the tree nodes are the dimensions that contain hierarchies. You can then drag dimensions (fields) from the cube structure to the pivot areas (Columns and Rows areas), and then select a measure or two from the cube, and drag it to the values area to generate the statistics.

OLAP Grid

The OLAP Client Grid view (above) is comprised of a multi-dimensional table with expandable nodes. These nodes group and display data according to the hierarchies used to define the measures and dimensions upon which the underlying data has been organized. In tandem with the OLAP Chart view, the OLAP Grid view provides an ideal means of clearly conveying data to the user. It is highly navigable and quickly provides detailed information to the user. The speed with which data recall occurs and the strong formatting the grid enforces ensure data is always presentable and easily understandable. Consequently, OLAP Grid views can easily be ported to spreadsheet applications for report compilation purposes.

You can navigate through these dimensions by drilling down, rolling up, or drilling across. You can drill down to access the detailed level of data, or roll up to see the summarized data. You can roll up through the hierarchy levels of dimensions or to specific characteristics or data elements (columns) of the dimensions. You can also drill across dimensions to access the data of interrelated dimensions. In addition, you can set one of these powerful computational functions such as sum, averages, distinct count, maximum, minimum etc. for the measure field.

OLAP Chart

While the Grid view (below) allows working with numbers, chart view allows representing your data graphically. This gives you and your team a unique opportunity to analyze data visually, dealing with charts rather than numbers, which is much easier to perceive. Now it’s easier than ever to spot new trends and discover unknown problems in your data flow. The statistical tool will help you gain an insight into your data and make new discoveries.

Exporting to file

After a particular snapshot of the statistics is achieved, If you need to share or publish the statistical findings, export it to image, PDF, Excel etc, or print it.

 
You also have the options to save the pivot settings to file, for accessing the same snapshot in future. If your database is located on a network, you can also save the cube data to file such that you can work offline with the cube, even when the database is not available, or when the network is disconnected.

Benefits

AssistMyTeam OLAP tool for SharePoint provides managers with the unique ability to explore large complex data from your SharePoint and allows displaying in grids, charts and graphs and support most common operations such as pivoting, drill down/slice and dice, filtering etc. With such arrays of information, you and your management team can re-engineer your business processes, reinforce resources and forecast problem areas and exploit all these factors for competitive advantage. With the capability of complex calculations, trend analysis and sophisticated data modeling, and reporting, OLAP tool helps you to identify critical information on your not so obvious data and extract mission critical information and intelligence that will enable better decision – in your business.

To get more info about the tool, you can visit – https://www.assistmyteam.net/OLAPSharePoint/

 

Many organizations have the requirement to store emails data from PST or mailboxes to an external database for varied reasons – for integration with CRM suites, to generate reports or statistics, or simply for redundant backup, archival or audit purposes to mention a few. However, there is no direct way of exporting emails data from Outlook to a database. That is, Outlook’s built-in Import and Export wizard only supports export of Outlook data to excel or a PST file.

Connecting Outlook to database for seamless export

The AssistMyTeam Database Exporter add-in for Microsoft Outlook is designed to overcome this limitation (i.e., the inability of the Outlook’s built-in ‘Import and Export Wizard’ to export data to an external database), by allowing you to export any kind of data, including custom fields, to a database, in a simple click, or even better, on the fly with no intervention from the user. There are 3 ways of exporting Outlook data to an external database:

1. Exporting items of an Outlook folder to a database

To export the contents of an Outlook folder, click the ‘Export to DB’ button as shown below. You will be shown with the ‘Select Fields’ dialog, with which you can opt which form to be used for displaying the available fields.

By default, the first option ‘Retrieve from the first item’ is selected, and what it does is, to probe the first item of the folder and automatically seek out all the available fields, including any number of user defined custom fields. It is recommended that you stick with this option of displaying the fields, unless, you want to retrieve Outlook specific fields only (second option), or want to use a particular custom form out of many defined for that Outlook folder (third option).

2. Exporting items including those in subfolders

By default, when you export the contents of an Outlook folder using the ‘Export to DB’ button, only the items of the current folder is taken into account. Items inside the subfolders (if any) are excluded from the export. Below are a few export options available.

  1. When exporting to database, include all items from subfolders
    When you choose to export the contents of an Outlook folder, enable this option to include items in subfolders of any number of levels. For example, below, the current folder is ‘My Company’. When exporting this to database, if you had checked this option, the contents of the subfolders such as ‘Bookings’, ‘Cases’, ‘Ongoing’, ‘Customers’ etc, will also be exported to the same database.
  2. Export all data from all subfolders to a single table
    Export all the items in the current folder, as well as those in subfolders in the same/single table, using this option. With this, the fields that you had chosen for the current folder will be applied to all the items in the subfolders as well.
  3. Export data of each subfolder to separate table in same database
    Another option is to export items in each of the subfolder to a separate table. This gives more flexibility in configuring the field options of the subfolders to be exported. For example, you can set the same chosen fields as that of the root folder, or use the default form for that subfolder, or even better, probe the first item of the subfolder to seek out the available fields. The latter option comes handy if you have user defined fields available on the folder or the item level.

3. Automation – Monitor Inbox for live export to database

Database Exporter supports real-time monitoring of any number of Outlook folders (can be a public folder or shared mailbox folder too). This will automatically process incoming mails or newly added appointments, tasks or contact items and add the data for the chosen fields to the database, without any intervention from the user. This automation would be particular useful, if you want to maintain a parallel copy or backup of your current Outlook items. This spares you from having to do that laborious work of copying and pasting the data from Outlook to database manually.

Automatic export works by allowing Database Exporter add-in to monitor selected Outlook folders (can be a shared or a public folder too), such that, when new emails are received or new appointments or tasks are added, Database Exporter automatically processes those items in real time and extract relevant data and add them to a pre-configured database. Each folder would have exactly one database each.

If you enable this option ‘Automatically update DB record when Outlook item is updated/changed’, whenever an existing Outlook item on a monitored folder is edited and saved, instantly the changes will also be reflected in the corresponding record in the database. This feature enables you to maintain synchronization between the Outlook items and the records in the database, on the fly, with no manual work.

If the Outlook folder is monitored for auto export and the option ‘Removing database record on item deletion from Outlook’ is checked, a delete button appears in the Database Exporter toolbar that enables you to delete the unnecessary Outlook items and at the same time, remove the corresponding database records automatically.

Benefits

  • Seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook
  • Export the contents of the Outlook folder to a relational database such as MS Access (MDB), Azure SQL, and all versions of SQL Server (including Express editions)
  • Support pre-defined Outlook fields as well as custom fields defined for that folder
  • Choose any customized form defined for that Outlook folder Supports POP, IMAP, Exchange mailbox and Public folders
  • Export all kind of Outlook items – mails, posts, appointments, tasks, journals or contacts
  • Optionally include items from the subfolders in the export, either to a single table or to separate table for each subfolder
  • Supports export of notes (Plain Body or HTML Body of the Outlook item, including task, appointment and contact item).
  • Real-time monitoring of incoming emails/new items of an Outlook folder, and automatically export the data to a database
  • Special MSI installer available for enterprise wide deployment (upon request)
  • Support for Office 2016 and 64 bit Versions
  • Support export to Microsoft Access and Microsoft SQL Server and cloud based Azure SQL

The Database Exporter addin works in your Exchange Public folders or PST just as fine as it does in your Inbox. To get more info about the tool, you can visit – https://www.assistmyteam.net/DatabaseExporter/

 

SharePoint has become the de-facto sharing platform for teams in organizations; storing business and transactional data on lists, document libraries etc. But unlike the ease of reporting and running statistics on relational database, SharePoint on its own does not provide such flexibility when it comes to querying and building reports. Due to this limitation, often, managers might find themselves spending a lot of time and resource in exporting data to spreadsheet and performing manual computation and parsing. Some organizations even use specialized data professionals and a dozen different software packages, just to produce simple reports. Worst, if the report doesn’t have the required information, you will have to start over, wasting precious time.

As there is a time and expense involved in getting answers from SharePoint lists, a lot of business intelligence information often goes unused, due to that fact that, SharePoint is designed to store data, and not to help you analyze it.

Connecting SharePoint to database for seamless export

The AssistMyTeam Database Exporter app for SharePoint is designed to give you a simple and yet powerful tool to let you replicate your SharePoint list data to a relational database for archival or reporting purpose.

In the Database Exporter tool, you can enter the URL of your SharePoint site (e.g.. http://companyweb/) such that it would show up all the available lists in a hierarchical tree from which you can select the particular SharePoint list for replication to relational database. Alternatively, you can also enter the URL of the particular SharePoint list (e.g.. http://companyweb/Lists/Tasks/AllItems.aspx) to directly load the available fields in the grid. With either techniques, you can choose which SharePoint fields to include in the export.

Before you can export a SharePoint list to a relational database, you are required to choose which fields of the list are to be included into the export. You do this by checking the corresponding check-box of the third column ‘Include in Database’. If you want all fields to be included, you can click ‘Select All’ option located at the bottom.

To export the selected SharePoint list with data of chosen field, click ‘Export to Database’. This will pop-up the database option dialog box, where you can choose the database type, name and specify the path and credentials etc.

A snapshot of replicated tables and their corresponding data in MS SQL Server from the SharePoint lists.

Benefits

  • Works with WSS, MOSS, SharePoint 2010, 2013, 2016 and Office 365
  • Support almost all data types used in SharePoint list Choose your own fields for inclusion to the database export
  • Supports export to relational Microsoft databases such as Microsoft Access (MDB)Microsoft SQL Server including Express editions, and Microsoft cloud based Azure SQL
  • No SharePoint list view threshold issues (i.e., limit of 5000 items) .
  • Install on any Windows PC or server, virtual or physical, and does not require any changes to SharePoint. Optimized for Office 365 SharePoint Online.

To get more info about the tool, you can visit – https://www.assistmyteam.net/DatabaseExporterSharePoint/

 

Managers often find it difficult to get the correct insights from their emails, appointments or tasks that are tagged with projects or some business data. Though Outlook views are excellent way of presenting information in a more obvious way in folder, it does not give you the summarized data that one needs often, to see broader trends based on aggregation, and to see these trends broken down by any number of variables. Given that the generalization of information using Outlook views are constrained by a few fields (or dimensions) at a time, it is hard to fully evaluate a complex set of answers without the ability to inspect each dimension in detail, while at the same time, preserving context eliminating all guesswork.

Mining intelligence and insights from Outlook emails, appointments or tasks

The AssistMyTeam OLAP tool for Outlook is designed to give you a simple and yet powerful tool to configure OLAP cube from your mailbox, and then analyze and create reports straightaway, out of the box. It is perfectly suited to spot new trends and discover unknown problems from your Inbox, Calendar or Task folders. The tool allows you to define any field as the measure with different function – sum, count, distinct count, maximum, minimum etc, against which statistics is to be executed. Real strength of this tool is its ability to examine and view data in ways not ordinarily possible. By allowing varying levels of granularity during data inspection and visualization, a lot of information can be revealed that would otherwise be hard to attain. Now it is easier than ever to spot new trends and easily answer many of the perspective information which otherwise are hidden.

AssistMyTeam OLAP tool for Outlook

On every outlook folder, you will find the OLAP toolbar, containing two buttons – first one enables you to choose which fields or dimensions (including user defined ones) to include in the statistic. It also lets you define which fields will act as ‘measures‘ in the function column. Selected fields and other settings are saved for that specific folder so that when you come back to this folder next time, it will show the same selected fields.

AssistMyTeam OLAP Client tool

As seen in the screenshot above, user-defined fields are distinctly highlighted for easy recognition. For example, States, TotalCost, RegionWise are user-defined fields in this task folder. You can also add new OLAP fields – a composite (also known as hierarchy) or a calculated field, based on the existing member fields of Outlook. OLAP fields are also colored differently for easy recognition (e.g., green)

New OLAP composite dimension – E.g., Projects per Country

New OLAP calculated member – E.g., Projects Total Cost

Then you can run the statistics tool from the toolbar or from the fields selection dialog. Depending on the number of folder items, it might take a few seconds to generate the cube from the Outlook folder, before loading the OLAP Statistics tool, as shown below.

When you click the ‘Run Statistics‘ button, it would generate a cube from the particular Outlook folder (e.g., Inbox or Calendar), which will be loaded in the OLAP Statistics tool. This tool consists of the Grid and Chart Views. On the left is the Cube structure – measures and hierarchies as a tree. The measures are grouped in the set, displayed in the branch. All the rest of the tree nodes are the dimensions that contain hierarchies. You can then drag dimensions (fields) from the cube structure to the pivot areas (Columns and Rows areas), and then select a measure or two from the cube, and drag it to the values area to generate the statistics.

OLAP Grid view

The OLAP Client Grid view (above) is comprised of a multi-dimensional table with expandable nodes. These nodes group and display data according to the hierarchies used to define the measures and dimensions upon which the underlying data has been organized. In tandem with the OLAP Chart view, the OLAP Grid view provides an ideal means of clearly conveying data to the user. It is highly navigable and quickly provides detailed information to the user. The speed with which data recall occurs and the strong formatting the grid enforces ensure data is always presentable and easily understandable. Consequently, OLAP Grid views can easily be ported to spreadsheet applications for report compilation purposes.

You can navigate through these dimensions by drilling down, rolling up, or drilling across. You can drill down to access the detailed level of data, or roll up to see the summarized data. You can roll up through the hierarchy levels of dimensions or to specific characteristics or data elements (columns) of the dimensions. You can also drill across dimensions to access the data of interrelated dimensions. In addition, you can set one of these powerful computational functions such as sum, averages, distinct count, maximum, minimum etc. for the measure field.

OLAP Chart view

While the Grid view (below) allows working with numbers, chart view allows representing your data graphically. This gives you and your team a unique opportunity to analyze data visually, dealing with charts rather than numbers, which is much easier to perceive. Now it’s easier than ever to spot new trends and discover unknown problems in your data flow. The statistical tool will help you gain an insight into your data and make new discoveries.

Exporting to file

After a particular snapshot of the statistics is achieved, If you need to share or publish the statistical findings, export it to image, PDF, Excel etc, or print it.

You also have the options to save the pivot settings to file, for accessing the same snapshot in future. If your database is located on a network, you can also save the cube data to file such that you can work offline with the cube, even when the database is not available, or when the network is disconnected.

Benefits

AssistMyTeam OLAP tool for Microsoft Outlook provides managers with the unique ability to explore metadata and project information stored in emails or appointments in multidimensional view in the form of grids, charts and graphs. With support most common operations such as pivoting, drill down/slice and dice, filtering etc., you and your management team can re-engineer your business processes, reinforce resources and forecast problem areas and exploit all these factors for competitive advantage.

To put in perspective, this OLAP tool can:

  • Represent Outlook fields (including custom fields) as OLAP dimensions, which are naturally interrelated through functional subject areas.
  • Provide an OLAP Grid view with support for a multi-dimensional table with expandable nodes. Unique features of control allows for building the OLAP-reports of the exceptional level of complexity.
  • Provide an OLAP Chart view that allows representing the data graphically. This gives you a unique opportunity to analyze your business data visually, dealing with charts rather than numbers, which is much easier to perceive.
  • Enable you to navigate through these dimensions by drilling down, rolling up, or drilling across – drill down to access the detailed level of data, or roll up to see the summarized data. Roll up through the hierarchy levels of dimensions or to specific characteristics or data elements (columns) of the dimensions. Drill across dimensions to access the data of interrelated dimensions.
  • Provide powerful computational functions such as sum, averages, distinct count, maximum, minimum etc. for the measure field (when creating the cube).
  • Allow you to save the current state of the statistics in the Grid/Chart working area to a report view file, with specific member fields on the pivot panels (Rows and Column areas) and measure fields in the values area. You can use this report view file in future, to retain back the same state of statistics.
  • Support exporting reports to a wide range of formats including Excel, Adobe PDF, XML, bitmaps or web pages.

To get more info about the tool, you can visit – https://www.assistmyteam.net/OLAPOutlook/

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