Enhancing the Efficiency of IBMi Through Automation

Sep 23, 2020 Anjan Barman

RPA can enhance the functionality of IBM i and eliminate the need to invest time and effort in activities such as invoice processing, updating ERP, pulling email attachments, data entry, report pulling, data validation, etc. By automating repetitive and tedious tasks, users can unleash the true potential of their AS400/IBM i system.

Regardless of the industry you serve, if the core of your operations rests on an AS400/IBM i system, you gotta read on. Even with all modern applications around, the reason why IBM i is still the first choice of countless businesses is its rock-solid reliability. The time-tested system has left a trail that’s synonymous with ease of scalability, flexibility, powerful processing abilities, and upward compatibility. Over the last few years, IBM and its partners have gradually eliminated concerns about maintenance, resource scarcity, and system compatibility of the system. Furthermore, by adding the option of cloud hosting to the mix, they have ensured that IBM i stays relevant for years to come.

So, what’s the concern?

Rapidly evolving market dynamics have forced businesses to keep pace with consumer demands while prioritizing productivity and profitability over anything else. Whether you are into Manufacturing, Logistics, Healthcare, Pharma, Retail, Casinos, Insurance, Banking, or anything else, the major obstacles in your pursuit of productivity and profitability are manual/error-prone operational tasks, tedious reporting and reviews, and high operating costs. These are the barriers that are keeping you from unleashing the true potential of your IBMi/AS400 system. When the management and staff invest time and effort in non-value-adding activities like data entry, report pulling, data validation, and the like, you can’t fully extract what your AS400/IBM i setup is capable of delivering.

How do you bridge this blatant gap in your ecosystem?

You have likely heard of the term ‘Robotic Process Automation’ or ‘RPA’, at least through the grapevine. If you haven’t got the chance to explore it, we have some delightful news for you – RPA is the answer to all your operational worries. RPA deploys digital robots to execute recurring tasks such as invoice processing, updating ERP, pulling email attachments, sending notifications for potential failure, monitoring networks, etc. data entry and validation, dynamic reporting pulling, and the like. In your context, all repetitive processes carried out on screen within your IBM i ecosystem can be simulated by RPA.

The technology allows your workforce to focus on its core expertise in areas requiring human intelligence and judgment. By now, you might have cerebrally calculated (at least attempted) the benefits that RPA delivers. The following list might come handy in your endeavor.

  • RPA takes over repetitive tasks & structured processes – Your staff saves time and effort
  • Eliminates manual errors – Accurate outcomes, minimum data-error induced losses
  • 24/7 uptime with sustained efficiency – Reduced dependency on staff slashes operating costs
  • Easy scaling of operations with object cloning - Once an RPA bot understands the process of completing a task, it can be copied time and again to function at scale. Bots leave a process trail – Effortless tracking of workflow sequence & quick identification of anomalies
  • RPA interacts with multiple applications in a transactional manner - Keeps critical systems in sync

Here’s your RPA for business encyclopedia

Select use cases for AS400/IBM i applications

Financial Operations - Accounting, data entry, invoicing, tax calculation, receipt tracking, payment status.

Human Resources - Track timesheets, calculate employee benefits, store & retrieve documents, issue employee onboarding information.

Retail – Inventory/sales audit, returns processing, assigning shifts, tracking attendance, customer support, supply chain monitoring.

Procurement – Purchase order generation, requisition approvals, invoice processing, MRO re-orders, contract management, category management, supplier relationship management.

Logistics - Shipment scheduling, inventory tracking, order processing & payments, vehicle tracking.

Bottom line: The AS400/IBM i - RPA duo closely resembles the silver bullet that you are desperately looking for to prepare your business for what’s next. With mission-critical processes running on the ever-dependable AS400 setup, RPA joins the party to complement the composition by automating non-core tasks, thus clearing the path ofAS400/IBM i for a smooth ride.

Associated Risks

Worrying if RPA would mess up (or at least interfere with) the data/process integrity of your current structure?

Let this soothe your nerves:

RPA simulates activities by sitting on top of IT systems — without the need to create, change, or develop expensive platforms. The software works only with the presentation layer of applications and doesn’t touch data or business logic directly.

Count on our IBM i expertise

At Nalashaa, our IBM i/AS400 wizards work in close coordination to deliver the ‘automation-push’ for your AS400 setup. We can optimize your IBM i environment and make it future-ready to handle high transactional workloads for a competitive advantage. We ensure frictionless IBM i -RPA compatibility and infuse flexibility into your processes, enabling you to realize a world of new possibilities.

  • Auto entry of information into IBM i -based ERP/CRM
  • Data extraction from 5250 screens
  • Deploying smart chatbots
  • Customer self-service portals on AS400/IBM i applications
  • AS400 Back office automation
  • Automating complex green-screen applications and screen changes
  • Use automation to simplify the training on green screen applications

If the pseudo-limitations of your current AS400-based workflows are tainting your service quality and upsetting your ROI, this brief intro on RPA for IBM i has probably struck a chord with you. If it did, then our effort has paid off.

Delineating all the wonders that RPA can do to your AS400/IBM i configuration is beyond the scope of this blog. To do that, we need to book your calendar. Leave your details and worries below.

Anjan Barman

Anjan Barman is a technology enthusiast with primary interests in the applications and possibilities of Cloud, RPA, AI, CRM, and the like in modern businesses. He loves exploring how innovations help organizations improve their efficiency while reducing the operating costs and presents the same in an atypical way. His other indulgences are non-fiction paperbacks, oriental music, and cricket.