Celina Insurance Group is a property and casualty insurance company providing home, auto, commercial, and farm insurance. Greg Young started working at Celina in 2004 as the network administrator, then came back in 2010 as a systems administrator. At the time, he was planning to learn second shift operations in order to be prepared as other team members retired. There was one daytime and one nighttime operator, and it was proving difficult to find another second shift operator. The training process was long, and the role had high turnover.
Knowing that finding, training, and maintaining a second shift operator was going to be hard, Young started looking into the possibility of automating every IT process that occurs during the second shift. He initially came to HelpSystems by choosing Robot Schedule as their IBM i job scheduling tool but along the way found they had other IT problems HelpSystems could solve.
Automating the Nightly Balancing Process
For Celina, balancing happens nightly and includes changes to any claims or policies made that day, changes usually numbering in the thousands. Different nightly cycles create reports referenced in this process. When done manually, the operator would open those reports on IBM i, see the direct written premium listed, then grab different numbers from another spool file created in another program and make sure that the numbers in that report added up to equal the number from the initial IBM i report. Most of the time, the numbers line up, which means they’re balanced. But it’s extremely important to verify that everything is accurate. Young wanted to be able to complete all the balancing in an automated process that triggered another process, and he found a way to do it with Automate Plus and Webdocs Creation & Delivery.
Celina’s IT team got a basic template from the HelpSystems team who helped implement their software and ran with it. Now they balance 15 different items. In the Robot Schedule process when it’s time to balance, Automate bots handle the balancing process then trigger another process in Robot Schedule.
Thousands of policies are checked every night to make sure everything is in order. Automate looks for anomalies, sends an email every night indicating whether everything is balanced, and attaches a spreadsheet containing all the applicable numbers. If it’s balanced, then the Automate bot uses a stored procedure on IBM i and kicks off a Robot job. If it’s not balanced, then the Celina team knows they have a problem to fix. Young was able to put this process together during his trial of Automate Plus, so he was certain the software could do what he needed it to do before he purchased.
Going “Lights Out” with Automatic Backup
Young found as he used Automate Plus that there were other creative ways he could use the tool with his other HelpSystems products. The most recent process he automated was full system IBM i backups with Robot Save, IBM i backup management software. In order to enable a Robot Save full system IBM i backup a command must be run on the system’s console. Young didn’t want to do that manually and needed to be absolutely sure that it happened every month to avoid a backup failure and to complete the month-end processing. He set up a bot to remote into the system’s hardware management console server with Automate so that it kicked off the command for him. By doing this, he basically automated the entire month-end processing.
Automating these processes has eliminated the need for the second shift operator position that has such a high turnover rate and has enabled the Celina computer room to go “lights out” for the second shift. Young and the IT team can operate knowing that balancing, file transfer, and automatic backup processes will be completed. And if something goes wrong, Automate will alert them so it can be fixed.
Solving Problems with HelpSystems
Working with HelpSystems meant having a solution for every IT problem. Every time Celina hit a roadblock in their IT department, there was a HelpSystems solution ready to fix it. And unlike other vendors Young has worked with, he says, HelpSystems can actually deliver what they promise: “Everything just worked as it was presented, and I wasn’t sold something that wasn’t going to work.”
Young has expanded Automate Plus use at Celina Insurance Group to include automating file transfers and is working to automate as much as possible in IT before one of his team members retires. Implementing automation in conjunction with other HelpSystems products has saved their IT team from having to work the second shift and kept critical business processes running without manual effort.
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Computer room went "lights out" for second shift operations
Automated entire balancing process through integration with Robot Schedule
Automated month-end processing and full system IBM i backups