Alpine Bank serves over 130,000 customers from 38 locations on the Western Slope of Colorado, and expanding into Denver, with retail, business, trust, asset management, mortgage, and electronic banking services. Locally owned and operated for 40 years, their commitment to the community is substantial, and their employees give generously of their time and talent.
One such local hero is Susan DeRocher, an iSeries administrator at Alpine Bank. In addition to dealing with hardware and software, Susan troubleshoots issues for as many as 500 users and often plays the middleman between users and Jack Henry. She had previous experience with Robot and championed bringing the products to Alpine Bank out of compassion for her coworkers and dedication to improving overall efficiency for customers.
Automation Is a Process
When Susan arrived on the scene in July 2012, Alpine Bank was using the IBM job scheduler and had Robot Console and Robot Alert in place for a few things here and there. After seeing the amount of manual processes that still remained, and finding that jobs were terminating without notification, Susan recommended Robot Schedule from Fortra.
“We have a maintenance contract with Jack Henry,” says Susan. “So, any type of upgrade that happens with IBM i goes through them. They have to okay everything.” As a result, the administrators were stuck manually changing processing dates. Resources were wasted running Jack Henry jobs that no longer existed—they would take up time to run but do nothing.
With Susan’s persistence and a green light from Jack Henry, Alpine Bank added Robot Schedule. They have now automated processes like bringing subsystems up and down. Susan explains, “Vertex, for example, will have the servers brought down to run Vertex reports. Robot Schedule also takes down certain subsystems during the evening so that end-of-day processing can run without people in those subsystems.We have our save running in Robot Schedule as well, along with ATM processing, iSecurity jobs, file builds, reports, and credit card upload functions.”
Susan admits that they still have several CL jobs containing numerous lines of code where they could take advantage of Robot Schedule’s reactivity and dependency processing. “It’s my biggest goal for the future,” she adds, “but baby steps.”
Automation Is a Team Sport
One area where Alpine Bank has moved in leaps and bounds is teaming Robot Schedule with Robot Console for message and resource monitoring. “It’s nice to have products that work well together,” says Susan, “that you can rely on to save you time and money and be confident that they are working correctly.”
Her team has set up different monitors and alerts to notify them when jobs are running too long. They’ve also set up Robot Console to monitor for the message that their end-of-day finished, as well as monitoring to see if their end-of-day jobs are active. Susan laughs, “We’re probably replicating ourselves here, but it’s just double protection—can’t be too careful in banking.”
While the on-call person is usually the primary contact, their alerts are set up to go via email or text message to individuals or different groups of people, depending on the situation. “We had some cache batteries that were going bad,” explains Susan. “They are critical hardware, so it has to go as a text. And that goes to multiple people."
Automation Is an Advantage
As one of only three iSeries administrators, Susan and her team wear many hats. Prior to Robot Console and Robot Alert, Alpine Bank had an operator monitoring things overnight. Now, they only need a person on call. Robot Schedule has also had positive effects on the operations staff. “It has taken away the stress of trying to remember certain things,” says Susan, “the override code, for example. If you don’t need a job to run tomorrow, you can just put an omit on it and you don’t have to remember to take off the hold. With Robot Schedule, you can set it up to just run and it will take care of things automatically.”
To help calm the fears of her more skeptical coworkers early on, Susan added checks in her jobs using Robot Alert that would page them when things were done. She explains, “At year-end I did that on some of the jobs so that folks would have that extra sense of relief. I also keep telling them about the neat little feature to put a question mark on the command line or right-click in the GUI to access online help tools and see what options are available.”
Susan’s coworkers were pleasantly surprised by all the features built into Robot Schedule, and Susan herself was delighted with the newer enhancements Fortra had rolled out since she last worked with the products. “Calendars, exception date processing, and job monitors in Robot Schedule; resource monitoring in Robot Console; even the forecasting is improved,” she notes.“
Fortra offers three cheers to our hero, Susan, for leading her business towards success and improving the lives of her coworkers! She had three cheers for us as well: “Robot products work well together, you can do a lot with them, and the support people are wonderful.”
Robot products work well together, you can do a lot with them, and the support people are wonderful.
Susan DeRocher, iSeries Administrator, Alpine Bank