Your IT department has endless responsibilities. And endless responsibilities turn into an impossible workload. It might seem like there will never be enough time in the day to keep up. And there won’t be—until you do something about that workload. Get started now by rethinking processes that don’t make sense for your business.
Take data access. The way many organizations approach data hasn’t changed much over recent decades. Writing programs, using outdated tools, and performing multiple steps to get to a usable result all take up time that your IT team—and your organization as a whole—can no longer afford to dedicate.
These methods aren’t your only option. With a smart data access strategy, you can carve out more time in your day. Start building your strategy today with these five tips for saving time when it comes to IBM i data access.
Tip #1: Leave that old query tool behind.
Is your organization still using Query/400? Even IBM doesn't recommend using that tool any more. Moving on from Query/400 is an easy way to save time.
Query/400 can slow down your organizational efficiency in several ways. Query/400 can only use the classic query engine, which is slower and outdated. Query/400 forces the manual running of multiple queries to get to a result, and any modern output takes additional, manual steps. Additionally, it takes too long to get insight into your data. You can access data with Query/400, but manual work is needed to turn data into insight. Once again, every hour spent on this is an hour taken away from another task.
Upgrading from Query/400 to a modern data access tool like Sequel Data Access will help your organization save time. The ability to utilize the same query to deliver multiple subsets of data by creating a rule that can prompt the user to enter variable information at run time contributes to significant time savings, as does the ability to easily gain insight via things like drilldown analysis, powerful reporting, dashboards, pivot tables, and data output in many formats.
Tip #2: Build in automation for data delivery when possible.
Many informational needs are recurring (daily, weekly, or monthly reports/spreadsheets). Instead of many business users spending time every day running the same queries or reports over and over, why not automate the reports to appear in their inbox, in the desired format, when they need them.
Sequel Data Access can also refresh data in a dashboard at any time interval with a simple, built-in setting. A common example of this feature would be a company with a distribution center that needs to track fulfillment information. Setting up a Sequel Data Access dashboard on a big screen means they can automatically track new orders to be picked and shipped.
Automation doesn’t have to be intracompany only. Several Sequel Data Access customers use Sequel Data Access to improve things like sending invoices to outside customers, working with vendors and partners, and improving sales reporting and tracking. Automated access to data can be a large productivity boost to just about any department.
Tip #3: Let your BI tool do the heavy lifting.
It’s a waste of time for your IT staff to write from scratch all the features and interfaces that are readily available in a third-party business intelligence (BI) tool. Whether it’s browser access or dashboards, drilldown capabilities or summary analysis, all you need to do is implement a tool that is already feature-rich. That way, you need only be concerned with providing accurate and secure base data.
Fact: Requests for data access are never going to go away. Every leader and every business user at your organization needs accurate information to do their jobs effectively. After all, data drives decisions.
So, saving time isn’t necessarily about cutting down on data access requests. Saving time ultimately comes down to both responding to requests faster with a more flexible tool and utilizing the built-in functions of the tool to let business users interact with the information and, in effect, fulfill their own changing data needs. As an example, a calendar drop-down to choose dates at run time is a very powerful option for business users.
So, IT saves time because they are fulfilling requests faster and business users save time because they can find the data themselves without continually going back to IT with different requests. Sequel Data Access makes it quick and easy for both IT staff and business users to fulfill data access requests.
Tip #4: Select a solution built for your platform—IBM i.
IT professionals, IBM i is your platform: you know it inside and out. When you use a tool specifically built for IBM i, you know it is scalable, securable, and more reliable than any other platform.
But here’s an important point—the platform should be agnostic to a business user. Business users clamor for permission to use graphical Windows or web tools because they are comfortable with them. The BI tool should insulate users from a specific platform; they just need a point-and-click, intuitive graphical interface. They want output to Excel, data on demand, or pivots tables at their fingertips regardless of where the data resides.
The Sequel Data Access business intelligence solution is built for IBM i. It gives technical staff robust and powerful programming tools for accessing data on not just IBM i but from other data sources (Db2, Microsoft SQL Server, My SQL, and others) while having the features business users require.
My background is as an RPG programmer, but for 90% of the things I do, I use Sequel because it’s faster. It takes me a quarter of the time.
Alan Boulee, Senior Programming Analyst, Fremont Insurance
Tip #5: Give your users self-service data access.
Empowering users with data access can have a huge impact on IT’s workload.
Self-service can be a multi-prong approach. One option is to set up users with the ability and authority to create queries directly, with IT’s blessing. That query building could be from raw data sources or could be with IT providing various starting points, such as beginning templates or auto-joining of tables.
Self-service also could mean that business users do not create queries directly, but they have powerful and flexible ways to consume and interact with key information, so they can acquire what they need, when they need it. A powerful delivery method for self-service could be a widely desired dashboard from which business users can view, download data, perform analysis, or graph/chart data.
Either way, everyone saves time—IT because they don’t need to field every data request and can roll out different levels of usage by business or department needs, and business users because they can have more control in accessing and assessing data.
Saving time means saving money.
A smart data access tool like Sequel Data Access makes it easy to do more in less time. Sequel Data Access is about removing unneeded manual processes, providing automation, security, and reliability of the platform while empowering business users with a modern solution for faster, easier access to their information.
How Much Could You Save?
Sequel Data Access makes it easy for you to get up and running quickly—in under an hour—so you experience ROI faster. But how much ROI are we talking? Find out using our free, interactive tool.