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First Business Bank Fast-Tracks Transformation with Salesforce + PDFTron for Document Generation

PDFTron // July 9, 2021

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“PDFTron helped development in our organization move significantly faster and greatly reduced the time we spent building templates for collecting information,” ~ First Business Bank, Manager of App Development, Ryan Frank

First Business Bank is a full-service commercial banking, private wealth, and consulting company headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. It provides loans, credit, and checking accounts for businesses, wealth management for business owners, and other speciality financial services. At the same time, it differentiates with a client-centered approach: giving each company or person it serves white-glove treatment.

That combination, full service and a low “business-to-bank ratio”, has led to delighted and loyal customers, in turn, supportive of First Business as it’s gone from strength to strength. Today, the company has over $2 billion in assets under management and 300 employees. In 2014, it qualified into the NASDAQ Global Select Market, the most selective tier, with the highest initial listing standards of any exchange in the world.

Accelerated Transformation with PDFTron + Salesforce®

First Business Bank powered its successes with process automation to maintain efficiencies while extending new lines of business, so teams could continue to deliver exceptional levels of service without slowdowns created by extra paperwork.

Using Salesforce® and the Salesforce Lightning® framework enabled First Business to automate many back-office processes.

“We even created a small app to keep employees safe during COVID,” said First Business Bank Manager of App Development Ryan Frank.

And using PDFTron in its Salesforce applications, First Business accelerates development via a single set of mature components for native document viewing, signing, form creation, and form filling.

Frank explained: “With PDFTron working as a Lightning Web Component, it plugs right in to look and feel like part of your Salesforce application. You can use it in your own flows, with users then able to complete a task A-to-Z in fewer steps. And we no longer have to sink nearly as much time into developing templates.”

Business Challenges

  • First Business Bank required a single set of professional, native components to power onboarding paperwork across its many different products and services
  • Needed to reduce business time taken to develop templates for capturing information
  • Improve the rendering performance to enable interaction on all types of documents

Background

Recognized as one of the top 40 community banks nationwide by American Banker magazine, First Business Bank got to where it is today, in part, through expanding its array of products and services to capture new revenue streams. The company covers the whole gamut of conventional commercial banking functions: lending, credit, consultation, and depository services -- and adds several new specialty financial products. As a result, First Business Bank serves as a one-stop shop. It provides all the financial tools and consulting business and business owners need to succeed, whether they intend to finance new capital expenditures, set up a sponsored savings plan, borrow against retail goods, or see to their personal financial future.

However, working across many different lines of business presents an operational challenge; First Business employees have to process a lot of compliance-critical paperwork daily. Forms range from one-page address change documents to lengthy contracts requiring signatures and initials from multiple parties.

Five years ago, certified Salesforce consultant and developer Ryan Frank joined First Business to make this deluge of paperwork more manageable via the Salesforce platform, used for process automation as well as a conventional CRM system. Frank and his team started with automation of treasury management: the taking in and handling of client deposits with which to pay employees, suppliers, lenders, and shareholders. And they expanded their approach to other areas after it proved successful.

“Little by little, we started building a lot of innovative applications on top of Salesforce to automate processes such as underwriting, credit approval, marketing, onboarding, and signature collection,” shared Frank.

But when it came to managing documents on Salesforce, Frank and his team discovered gaps in the platform that slowed them down; Salesforce was excellent for pulling, organizing, and storing documents -- but less so for interaction on, filling in, and editing them.

Frank stated, “we were building screens on top that would collect information. But there were just a lot of maintenance costs that we had to incur to manage the platform, especially if something didn’t work, if a status didn’t move forward. So a lot had to be custom coded.”

Evaluation

First Business decided to go to market. Frank looked on the AppExchange® and at external document technology vendors for a more scalable, cost-effective document solution that would, ideally, integrate directly into their Salesforce apps and keep data on the platform.

“We wanted something that was JavaScript-based and all on our server -- at the same time, it had to be quick and professional enough,” said Frank.

What was available initially didn’t quite hit the mark. Vendors outside the Salesforce ecosystem provided greater functionality. But their technology would require data to leave Salesforce via API calls, introducing potential compliance headaches. Even more significant were Frank's concerns about reliability:

“Documents need to go out, and if a vendor server goes down -- you have a lot of angry users that will message me and say, ‘Why isn’t this working?’”

On the other hand, Frank found JavaScript-based solutions on Salesforce “weren’t as well supported.” Many also required templates to be built in HTML: “Which was not helpful; it’s basically like developing it ourselves.”

Then Frank came across PDFTron while browsing forums for product recommendations. And on closer inspection, it proved exactly what they were looking for.

“PDFTron is a full-on document business; they’ve been working with document editing technology for the last 20 years, and they have some big clients. When I saw that they run in DocuSign, that really increased my confidence.”

Solution - Professional Capabilities that Live in Salesforce

PDFTron combined the best of two worlds: complete, professional features that plugged right into Salesforce via a PDFTron WebViewer optimized for use as a Lightning Web Component.

“PDFTron on their website has plug-and-play code,” says Frank. “And if you’re able to plug custom code into yours, it kind of looks and feels the same. Whereas with other solutions, you’d have to put a button at the top of the screen and call out to code hidden behind the scenes as to what it did. With PDFTron, it was all open; it’s script-based, and you can see it. You can manipulate it. It’s just more usable.”

It took First Business just two days to get 70 percent of their required document functionality up and running.

“Every codebase has some gotchas, in that you need to learn how they’re doing things,” Frank admitted. “But PDFTron’s documentation has been wonderful. I haven’t had to contact engineering support once. Instead, we could download it and, step by step, see how to use it in the Salesforce ecosystem. After that, it just worked, and it was easy.”

Now Frank and his team no longer have to invest significant time into updating and maintaining templates. Instead: “You upload the document in its original Office or PDF format, and you don’t have to code anything,” said Frank, adding: “Modifying a template with PDFTron is also easy; you upload a new version, it fits in, and it just works.”

Lastly, PDFTron’s rendering performance proved superior to what else was available on Salesforce. Unlike previously, large contracts with small print would now load up perfectly. Users could zoom in and search the text, to inspect a minor clause free of blurriness or performance slowdowns, thanks to WebViewer’s powerful, client-side rendering.

First Business Bank’s PDFTron experience is still in its early days. But we’ll be updating this story with further developments in the months ahead. Stay tuned to this space for more!

About First Business Bank

Experience. The Advantage.

First Business Bank specializes in business banking, including commercial banking and specialty finance, private wealth, and bank consulting services, and through its refined focus, delivers unmatched expertise, accessibility, and responsiveness. Specialty finance solutions are delivered through First Business Bank’s wholly owned subsidiary First Business Specialty Finance, LLC. First Business Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of First Business Financial Services, Inc. (Nasdaq: FBIZ). Visit firstbusiness.bank to learn more.


PDFTron Systems Inc. is a global provider of industry-leading, high-performance document processing and conversion technology related to PDF, XPS, SVG, and other graphic file formats. Our flagship cross-platform PDF library, PDFNet SDK, provides organizations a cost-effective, reliable, and easy way to seamlessly integrate full-spectrum PDF capabilities and document conversion functionality …

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