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Case Study: Robot Automation Solutions

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Built-in schedulers are temperamental. It's a pain scheduling extracts from third-party applications. Digging through job logs to get information for audits is a chore. Does this sound familiar?

 

Our friends at Heartland Financial, a multi-bank holding company based out of Dubuque, Iowa, found fun ways to use Robot products to solve their operations frustrations. Here are their top five.

 

Charles Bertsch and Paul Duval are part of the operations team at Heartland Financial. They were excited to share how Robot job scheduling and monitoring software helped them manage their processes across platforms from their iSeries. With a goal of doubling in size every five to seven years, the processing window was a concern. They needed tools that could grow with their business and came up with some creative solutions using Robot.

#1: Centralize Scheduling on the iSeries

Prior to Robot, operations at Heartland Financial involved a lot of manual processes and problems with temperamental built-in task schedulers. Their third shift would run nightly processing until 1:00 a.m. and then run manual jobs afterward. They started using native schedulers for some of those jobs, but the challenge was that their nightly workflow never ended at exactly the same time. Due to the amount of guesswork in timing, managing nightly processes and 400 separate month-end jobs on the IBM scheduler and Windows scheduler was tough.

 

With Robot products, Heartland was able to have iSeries applications control all their jobs, not only on the iSeries but on the Windows scheduler as well, using Robot/SCHEDULE and Robot/SCHEDULE Enterprise. Following an update to their Fiserv Signature software, they used the Schedule Activity Monitor (SAM) in Robot/SCHEDULE to spot jobs that didn't run, see what queries they were calling, step through them, and kick off the jobs again, all from a single dashboard.

#2: Establish Fiserv Message Archive for Auditors

The Fiserv Signature application does not provide a canned report confirming that all jobs completed, and that's really what auditors expect to see. Paul used the global programming in Robot/CONSOLE to look for specific message IDs from each bank. The messages confirm when backups and batch jobs are complete. Robot catches these messages from Fiserv and emails them to the operations team, who archive them for auditors to prove that any given job or backup finished without digging through job logs. All they need is the message from Robot/ALERT, which says exactly what auditors need to hear.

#3: Track Disk Space Usage for Cost Allocation

Before Robot, Heartland lacked disk accounting services across their 10 independently chartered banks and 81 banking locations. Changes in library size for their many banks needed to be tracked so they could allocate costs. Using Robot/SPACE, they can monitor library growth and analyze existing trends to make space for new data. They also use the size of their data libraries to do allocations. After jobs run the first of the month, for example, Charles can go back and graph out their status, how big the libraries are each month, how they change and fluctuate.

#4: Optimize Existing Staff

When they were smaller, Heartland had more time to deal with the eccentricities of native schedulers. But with upcoming acquisitions, their growth strategy demanded a scalable solution, and reliable processing was even more mission-critical. As they add banks and processing, their goal is to handle the rapid growth and to fold in additional banks, while maintaining the same processing window without adding staff.

 

Automation was huge for them to maintain that window so they would have time to run their extracts on a consistent basis. Without Robot, Heartland would have had to add staff to monitor jobs overnight. Robot jobs run unattended and do what they're intended to do. When the operations team arrives in the morning and checks the dashboard, the jobs are consistent.

#5: Leverage Robot Tech Support

When they first began using Robot products, Heartland was coming away from manual processes and built-in schedulers on the iSeries and Windows. They had a lot of entries to move over and, on the enterprise side, they had to make sure the services were running on specific servers.

 

The migration tool in Robot was helpful, and they did some training for their core group to get them familiar with the products. They also spent a lot of time working with Roxanne Callan, a technical consultant at Help/Systems. In comparison to their other software vendors, Charles ranked Robot support services "definitely above average." Heartland is comfortable calling or using the online chat option to get the answers or assistance they need.

 

Read the full case study for more ways Robot helped Heartland Financial streamline their job schedule and maximize their banking software. Discover the many (sometimes surprising) ways that Robot will improve your processes by trying it free for 30 days.

 

Chuck Losinski

Chuck Losinski is Director of Automation Technology for the Robot product line. He has more than 25 years of experience with IBM i systems. Chuck¹s background includes system implementation, programming, operations, and support. He is certified as an IBM System Administrator and has helped customers automate business applications from InFor, JDE Enterprise One, HBOC, RxClaim, Infinium, Jack Henry, and more.

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