IBM i Scheduling Survival Guide: The Journey Toward Greater Heights

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This resource will help make your decision easier and your rollout more manageable.


Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from the white paper "IBM i Scheduling Survival Guide," available free from the MC Press White Paper Center.


Imagine yourself at the base of a mountain, looking up. Jagged outcroppings obscure your view of the peak, though you know it must be up there…somewhere. You've heard stories about the pride and satisfaction that comes from reaching the summit, and you consider making the climb. And yet, from your perspective, all you see are obstacles and uncertainty.


While the IT department is no Everest, considering the climb toward enterprise scheduling automation can be intimidating. So, you psyche yourself out. Rather than focus on automation's potential, you fixate on potential perils. Instead of a peak, you see a cliff.


You have the desire to begin the journey toward a better operations environment—what you need is the right information from someone who has been there. You need a guide.


We created this resource to help make your decision easier, and to help make your rollout more manageable. Think of it as a survival guide. We provide you with a strategy developed from over 30 years of helping customers not only survive the automation process, but flourish. When you achieve scheduling automation, you will join these success stories and be well on your way toward ultra-efficient operations.


We believe in managing systems by exception. That is, if processes run smoothly, on time, and without errors, let them be. If problems arise, notify the responsible party. This guide addresses this approach and the desirable features to look for when evaluating an enterprise scheduling solution.


After completing the steps in this guide, you will have a project outline in place and should be able to complete your trek toward software purchase and implementation with confidence. We share the best practices we've discovered through the years, so you won't have to go it alone.


Don't worry—you'll make it to the top.


Imagine yourself at the mountain's peak. Your job scheduler is in place, and it is having an enormously positive effect on your day-to-day operations environment. Instead of spending time putting out fires caused by jobs running in the wrong order or at the wrong time, you now concentrate on offering your customers—outside clients and internal stakeholders alike—more services and more innovative ways to increase productivity.


That's your goal. Are you ready to take the first step?


What Is Automated Scheduling?

In the 1980s, computer operators using a mainframe ran many jobs and processes manually. Operators spent much of their time documenting process completion codes and statuses. Runbooks were the backbone of every operations area, providing details about when jobs should run and what to do when errors arose. Runbooks also acted as checklists, and as tasks finished, operators entered the date and time of the completion code, along with their initials. A great deal of time was spent updating and maintaining spreadsheets to reflect this information, and these documents became part of the company's change management system.


Comparing a modern order entry process with one from 30 years ago, we find that all of the same processes had to occur in the 1980s, but all of the triggers were manual. The process went like this: a call center employee received an order and filled out a form; the form was delivered to the data processing office, where another employee punched cards with the correct information. An operator manually fed cards into the mainframe computer, which produced the pick list during the batch run that evening. The lists were distributed and used to pull the correct orders. Team members punched additional cards for mailing labels and delivery instructions. After the cards were fed into the mainframe again the next evening, another batch ran and produced the needed instructions.


Each step in the process required another round of card punching and another batch run, with tedious manual processing involved in each step.


The evolution of batch scheduling means outside events now drive schedules, and those events can occur anytime. Batches run as soon as they are needed, based on schedule drivers and triggers, because downtime is not an option. During the software evaluation phase, remember that your scheduler must be able to monitor for important events and then initiate the next step in the process.

Why You Should Make the Journey

For many people, the reasons to initiate a scheduling automation project are obvious. However, they may not be apparent to those tasked with the chore of submitting jobs manually. After all, inertia is a powerful force. Unless a budget crisis or a mandatory compliance issue mandates change, the status quo remains.

Want to Know More?

Download the free white paper "IBM i Scheduling Survival Guide" from the MC Press White Paper Center.