Customer Story

Robot Irons Out System21/JBA Job Scheduling Kinks for Fibre-Craft

Fibre-Craft, a maker of arts and crafts supplies and dolls, runs a very lean, productive IT department. In fact, the department consists of just one person. To maximize efficiency, the company needs IT tools that are easy and efficient to use and it must automate as many IT processes as possible.

Fibre-Craft runs on IBM i. The platform has a long-standing reputation for being simple to manage, but that doesn’t eliminate an IT department’s workload. Fibre-Craft needs to run a variety of jobs and ensure that they complete successfully.

A leader in the creative activities business since 1953, this Illinois-based company uses the JBA (Infor System21) ERP application. JBA fulfills Fibre-Craft’s ERP require- ments, but it is long in the tooth and, according to Sandy Eden, Sr. P/A – EDI Coordinator, its job scheduler is “very archaic. It’s not very intuitive. It’s hard to monitor. It’s hard to schedule processes. And it’s just very cumbersome.”

Enhanced Productivity

Robot SCHEDULE job scheduling software, which was already in use at the company when Eden joined Fibre-Craft, overcomes these issues. It allows Fibre-Craft to avoid the unwieldiness of the ERP’s job scheduler and helps to meet the company’s need for productive and accurate IT operations.

Between 95 and 96 percent of Fibre-Craft’s order processing is done via EDI. To keep orders flowing, the company uses Robot SCHEDULE to schedule EDI processes, such as creating and sending EDI transactions. It also uses Robot SCHEDULE to automate report distribution, run purge processes, clear job queues, and perform analysis on the system environment, such as examining file sizes. 

Increased Visibility

One of the biggest benefits that Fibre-Craft derives from Robot SCHEDULE is visibility. “I even use it for the jobs that are running on other job schedulers,” said Eden. “I can go in and check to see at a glance what’s running and what’s failed. It’s easy to find everything you’re looking for. That’s why I want to get everything off of the other job schedulers and put it into Robot SCHEDULE.”

In those instances when the system needs to be shut down for maintenance, this enhanced visibility also helps Fibre-Craft to ensure that the shutdown is done gracefully, without impacting any important jobs. Before shutting down the system, Eden uses Robot SCHEDULE
to look at what jobs are scheduled to run, puts those jobs on hold, and then shuts down the system with the least possible impact on operations.

Easy to Use

Ease of use is another important benefit.

“It makes my job easier,” declared Eden. “I don’t have to remember to run stuff. I just schedule it. And it’s a lot easier to schedule than some of the other tools out there. It’s also the fact that you can group things together to run, as opposed to having to create other programs to do that.” 

Robot SCHEDULE also makes it simple for Eden to pinpoint issues and problems quickly, which is important considering that she is the only IT person responsible for the company’s IBM i. “I haven’t been here long enough to know every single job running on the system,” explained Eden. “So I quite often take a look at what jobs are out there and what has run.”

Robot SCHEDULE’s interface is a large part of why it’s so easy to use. When Fibre-Craft first started using it, Robot SCHEDULE had a green screen interface that has since been upgraded to a graphical user interface.

Eden sings the praises of the GUI. “I didn’t think I’d like the GUI, but I absolutely love it. In fact, I loved it so much that I emailed the people at my previous job [where they also use Robot SCHEDULE] and said, ‘you’ve got to get this!’” 

"Robot SCHEDULE is very intuitive. It walks you through what you need to do."

When asked about the support she receives from Robot, a division of HelpSystems, Eden wasn’t able to provide an answer. There’s a good reason for that. Despite having been at Fibre-Craft for about three years, and having used Robot SCHEDULE elsewhere before that, she’s never needed any support because Robot SCHEDULE is self-explanatory and it has never failed her.

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