When Ohio Mutual Insurance Group (Ohio Mutual) began operating in 1901 as Ohio Mutual Tornado, Cyclone, and Windstorm Insurance Association, they helped farmers recover from natural disasters and get their business up and running again. Now, more than a hundred years later, Ohio Mutual provides insurance for over 120,000 policyholders, so they know a lot about the problems caused by unexpected events. This is why they take no chances with their system operations: They use the products of the Robot Automated Operations Solution suite from HelpSystems to avoid disasters before they happen, and to keep their business up and running.
Ohio Mutual has more than 180 internal users and many field agents accessing the system through the Internet throughout Ohio and Rhode Island, so availability and reliability are critical. Ohio Mutual uses an IBM System i for their policy administration system, and two Intel-based systems for claims administration and document processing.
At the heart of their operation is the Robot Automated Operations Solution. Bill Houseworth, manager of IT Administration and Security, says the System i is their main focus for batch processing and where the Robot products come into play. “We’ve been involved with the Robot software since we purchased the System i. We knew that we had to have certain software processes in our operation and we knew that a robust scheduler was critical.”
Ohio Mutual does not have a large operations group, so Robot SCHEDULE job scheduling and batch management software has helped their group tremendously over the years by providing lights-out automation. “We have people on-call, but from 5:00 to 11:00 every weeknight, and on weekends, we are definitely lights-out, because nobody is managing the data center.”
Bill likes the flexibility of Robot SCHEDULE. “We have jobs that run on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. There are certain jobs that only run once a month that have to wait on a daily process to complete. And, there are certain jobs that run on a monthly basis, but only happen on a certain day of the month. We can accommodate all of this very nicely with Robot SCHEDULE. The different jobs weave right in with the schedule.”
Bill has noticed a definite decline in operational-related errors, thanks to Robot SCHEDULE. “We have been able to take a lot of the steps that normally require an operator to make a decision based on jobs, and put that into Robot SCHEDULE. Reducing errors was the biggest reason for using Robot SCHEDULE, and it worked—the nightly batch cycle now runs at 90% lights-out.”
Before they started using Robot SCHEDULE, Bill found that the human element added too much chance for error. “If an operator makes 1,000 critical keystrokes a night, and if just one gets messed up, we would fault the operator. But, that’s not fair. If the operator did 999 of the keystrokes correctly, you can’t fault them for one bad keystroke. So we decided to cut the 999 keystrokes down to one.”
“Reducing errors was the biggest reason for using Robot SCHEDULE, and it worked.”
One of the scheduled weekend jobs that Robot SCHEDULE manages is a full system save using Robot SAVE backup, recovery, and media management software. Bill explains their process: “We do backups on the weekends. The system goes into a restricted state and the backup runs in the order that we want it to.”
As Bill explains, the reports generated by Robot SAVE serve many purposes. “At the end of the backup, we generate a report that can facilitate a restore process if and when we need it. We also produce reports on a daily and weekly basis, so when the auditors arrive and pick certain dates to look at, we have a report. Keeping track of paper files would be a full-time job.”
Many of Ohio Mutual’s application systems produce detailed reports. Bill describes how they use Robot REPORTS report distribution, archiving, and viewing software to view only the information they need. “We take the detailed reports and pick out the pages, or totals, or items we need to have, and we produce just the pages we need to get the total we need. If there’s a problem, we can look at the details online. We don’t have to print 3,000 pages to find the one policy that’s giving us an error. That’s just a daily usage example. It’s even more pronounced on a monthly basis. We have several reports that are five or six thousand pages, and we don’t print any of it. It’s been a big paper and money-saving experience.”
Bill’s team realized as they grew, that it was becoming increasingly important that all of their systems communicate. “As we grew and took advantage of Robot SCHEDULE, we knew there were processes throughout our systems that needed to talk to each other. We use Robot ALERT to send notifications to operations people and to many of the IT managers because we need to know when something happens on any of our systems.”
"With the Robot Automated Operations Solution, we run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It’s our eyes and ears when no one is here.”
In addition to providing a flexible, reliable schedule for Ohio Mutual, Bill says the Robot Automated Operations Solution has many other benefits. “We’ve saved by not having to add staff to the data center, we don’t need someone managing 24/7, and we don’t need to have people working on weekends.”
Bill acknowledges that automation software is a big plus when it comes to auditors. “They want to know how things are scheduled and they’re very appreciative and understand it very well. It’s also useful for telling them who looks at what reports and for auditing the schedule.”
Concludes Bill, “With the Robot Automated Operations Solution, we run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It’s our eyes and ears when no one is here.”