Commuting and Computing - Part 2

Posted by Kevin McCarthy, Sr.

August 19, 2011 | 11:00 AM

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In this economy, are you trying to squeeze a few more years out of that commuter car of yours? Many of us are facing the same challenge, that delicate dance between often-costly repairs and buying something new. We may even spend a few extra dollars to spruce up the car. A Saturday morning wash and wax might help hide the “necessity” and renew the “desire” to hang on to the car one more year. In the 400 (IBM System i) world – the same basic question applies to ERP software: When is it time to upgrade vs. when is it time to just “spruce up” what we have? One of the additional benefits of staying with the IBM System i platform is the life-span of the software, whether it is custom written or packaged (although, longevity can be more than a bit tricky). I recently had a client that had a payroll application that only allowed for 30 years’ worth of data entry. The data file / subfile combination were no longer working as expected. The original programmer did not anticipate the lifespan of their code. I had to channel my inner Wang Chung and review some RPG II code that was written while I was still in high school. Although an extreme example, with a few quick tweaks – that code will conceivably work for the next century. Another recent request involved an old COBOL check generating program that would still be working fine were it not for a change in banks. After some consideration, it became obvious that the “quicker fix” would be to create a printer file and a simple RPG program to perform the same function. Worked like an inexpensive charm. It is not always easy to know when it is worth it to get your engine rebuilt vs. trading the car in for a new model. But with the current business climate – this is no time to be upgrading to a whole new ERP system. Your company is probably making do with a few less employees already, and throwing drastic change at those remaining could prove difficult. Focus on improving key elements of existing software, making minor modifications for “ease of use” may just help your company stretch a few more miles out of your current systems.

Topics: Technology, IBM i


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