Customer Story

Focal Point Saves Time with Automate Schedule

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In a complex computing environment, Focal Point, a Chicago-based manufacturer of architectural lighting, needed an IT solution to help manage their growing business. With a cross-platform workflow, including EnterpriseOne ERP jobs running across Windows and IBM i servers, as well as VB and .net custom apps servers, they needed a tool that was robust enough to connect and simplify the different facets of their business processes. 

Computing Chaos Across Platforms and Servers

Camillo Catuara, Applications Development Manager at Focal Point, had 24 years of experience with the iSeries at a previous organization. When he came to Focal Point in 2012, the business was experiencing problems with meeting the demands of month-end processes, endless job loops, failed jobs, and the lack of communication and notification across the servers. He knew he needed to automate and sync all of the processes running at Focal Point. 

Camillo notes that the company was used to the regular scheduler on the iSeries. “It wasn’t versatile enough. It couldn’t do certain things, like have dependencies. I could make things go one after another, but I couldn’t make it reactive.” The need for reactivity combined with the limitations of the EnterpriseOne scheduler and running jobs natively through the Windows Operating System created a lot of problems. That’s when Camillo began to look for a tool that could automate workloads across platforms. 

A Scheduling Solution 

Having worked with HelpSystems products before, Camillo knew that the company had 30 years of experience in automation and scheduling technology, and he trusted their suggestion that Automate would be a good enterprise job scheduling solution for a cross-platform computing environment. “We downloaded the trial and we were able to make things reactive with the iSeries. Right there, we started seeing the benefits and thought that this would probably be a good thing for us.”

Todd Tilton, Lead Developer at Focal Point, says, “In a lot of ways, we got real-time training. The support team took us through all of the steps we needed to go through. It really educated us.” Adds Camillo, “The support team at HelpSystems has been tremendous. The fact that they would stay on the phone and take control of your PC made it a lot easier for us to implement Automate Schedule.”

The Success of Automating

Since implementing Automate Schedule, business processes like month-end batch jobs and event-driven, cross-system jobs are no longer a stressor for Focal Point. Instead, the company finds it useful to manage all of their jobs on Windows, Microsoft SQL servers, EnterpriseOne, IBM i, and custom apps servers from one place. Automate's ability to integrate across platforms and applications is another important feature to Focal Point. Todd explains, “It really helps us with a lot of the EnterpriseOne tasks that have to be run. While EnterpriseOne has its own scheduler, Automate is easier to use.” 

Automate Schedule's monitoring and logging capabilities, in particular, have made Camillo’s and Todd’s jobs much less stressful. “When there are problems like delayed or failed jobs, Automate Schedule is able to log everything.” When they first began using Automate, they received error codes from jobs being run out of J.D. Edwards. 

Camillo notes, “The support team from HelpSystems was able to help us write a script that basically translated the error code from J.D. Edwards into something that Autoamte Schedule could use and decipher. And with that, Automate Schedule can properly monitor EnterpriseOne.” In this way, Focal Point relies on Automate to streamline its job scheduling across both servers and enterprise applications.

Receiving alerts about and having a log of failed jobs from Autoamte Schedule, coupled with the availability of technical support at HelpSystems, has helped Focal Point to stabilize their business processes. They are now more comfortable with running jobs across various platforms and applications because they will know quickly whether a dependency has delayed or failed. 

“You may be saving 2-3 hours a day for a whole year. You’re not having someone monitor job processes every day and night. Automate Schedule will send you a notification if something delays or fails, and then you can react to it.”