iSeries System Documentation: Now is the Time to Work on it

Feb 03, 2021 Rima Dutta

When Application System 400, aka, AS400 was first introduced by IBM in the late 1980s, system documentation wasn’t a part of the conventional System Development Life Cycle (SDLC). This explains the limited availability of AS400 documentation. With multiple CIOs handling reins over the years, partial documentation might be a possibility but is insufficient in today’s business context.

With the in-house workforce immersed in fixing pre-existing and daily system issues, there is a visible deficiency in the skill and manpower required for successful documentation. Shrinking resource pool has been a perennial roadblock for the past one decade and has delayed system documentation by years.

To make things even more grueling, 2020 rolled in and took a convoluted turn, if anything, it taught businesses that structured processes and well-documented systems are the real need of the hour. Remote working made things even more arduous. With inadequate system documentation, IT teams found it difficult to understand the uncertainties in the system, train new programmers, offer resolutions to issues, and plan future IT initiatives. This has given businesses a solid reason to add system documentation in their priority quadrant.

Why firms aren’t are able to kick-off AS400 system documentation?

  • Recoiling resource pool: The existing AS400 IT teams that actually know the system inside out are on the verge of retirement and there isn’t much inflow of skillset to replace them.
  • Tedious & expensive: AS400 system documentation is a cumbersome process that demands time, effort, and capital. Enterprises often fear that the cost of documentation may undermine its value.
  • No real need: Since the RPG programmers have a thorough understanding of the system, they generally choose to skip the documentation aspect.
  • Long request queues: The IT teams are always busy with firefighting system issues, while on the other hand, user requests pile up the size of a mountain. All these factors leave zero bandwidth for documentation.

The more enterprises procrastinate on documentation, the more challenging it becomes for new members of the IT team to step in and understand the system from scratch. While there might be a million reasons that stop firms from pursuing AS400 documentation, the repercussions that they hold are even more grieving

Challenges due to lack of AS400 documentation

  • Training Inconveniences: Without efficient documentation in place, training the scarce set of new programmers with the technicalities and functional flows of the system becomes a complex grind to accomplish.
  • No clarity on system functionalities: The non-technical employees who operate on AS400 systems on a daily basis, need to understand the functional specifications in order to steer clear of disruptions. Without system documentation, the learning curve is reliant on the availability of in-house trainers.
  • Long Query-Resolution Time: The average time required to resolve user requests escalate because there’s no comprehensive guide that elucidates the structure and function of the system, as a result of which, teams need to inspect a lot of unknowns before they resolve a user request.
  • Minimal Future Endeavors: Lack of documentation narrows the spectrum for growth by leaps and bounds. CIOs & the other concerned authorities do not have clear visibility into the system as a result of which, planning future endeavors becomes a tough nut to crack.
  • No room for changes: To keep up with the trends and stand up to competitors, AS400 enterprises often feel the need for modernization and/or migration. Now, for these options to be viable, an in-depth prognosis of the architecture is a mandate.

What benefits do firms reap from a well-documented AS400 system?

  • Optimal resource utilization: Knowledge transfer sessions for IT folks are easy to conduct with accurate AS400 documentation. This also helps leaders to assign tasks to the right individuals for optimum outcomes.
  • Easier Understanding: New users of the AS400 system can go through the documentation to understand process flows and therefore, become productive sooner.
  • Faster Resolutions: Programmers can leverage documentation in the case of any system uncertainty to provide faster and precise resolutions.
  • Smoother future endeavors: IT heads can now read the system inside out and chalk out future enhancements, keeping the consequences on the rear-view.

Our Approach

We, at Nalashaa, follow a simplistic yet effective line of approach wherein we identify, plan and execute AS400 system documentation.

  • IDENTIFICATION: In the first step, we identify different areas and list down all key functions, processes & tasks. This is followed by a scale inspection of the AS400 system and its associated stakeholders, thereby, forming a complete, comprehensive guide to the steps that follow next.
  • Documentation Plan: As cliche as it may sound, chalking out the purpose and range of documentation beforehand saves us a ton of time, energy, and resources. The step then involves creation of a holistic blueprint of all the processes and data flows within the AS400 system that needs to be documented.
  • EXECUTION: At Nalashaa, we provide you with an elaborate system action plan and create end-to-end documentation that includes both, the functional as well as technical flowsheets with their diagrams. Once you give a sign-off, that’s when a document is finalized.

Why should you trust us?

When a task is as tedious as documenting an entire AS400 system, it is better to get an industry expert by your side. We have spent over a decade helping enterprises with their AS400 needs and can help you too, to ace up your efficiency by deploying documentation solutions that resonate the best with your needs. Our Subject Matter Experts nullify your assumptions and answer to all the Ifs & Buts that might be holding you from taking that final decision. Connect with us and leverage our years of experience to stay one step ahead in the industry.

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Rima Dutta

Made my favourite sandwich using the best of both worlds - Technology & Writing. The girl next door who talks to the camera, cries watching K-dramas and has an unhealthy obsession with momos & fictional characters.