Article

5 Time-Saving Tips for Smart Data Access on IBM i

How IT can save time and money today
IBM i
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Posted:
October 23, 2019

Your IT department has endless responsibilities. And endless responsibilities turn into an impossible workload. It might seem like there will never be enough time in the day to keep up. And there won’t be—until you do something about that workload. Get started now by rethinking processes that don’t make sense for your business.

Take data access. The way many organizations approach data hasn’t changed much over recent decades. Writing programs, using outdated tools, and performing multiple steps to get to a usable result all take up time that your IT team—and your organization as a whole—can no longer afford to dedicate.

These methods aren’t your only option. With a smart data access strategy, you can carve out more time in your day. Start building your strategy today with these five time-saving tips.

tip #1

Tip #1: Leave that old query tool behind

Is Query/400 still the query tool of choice at your organization? Moving on from Query/400 is an easy way to save time.

 Query/400 can slow down your organizational efficiency in several ways. Query can only use the classic query engine which is slower and old. Query forces the manual running of multiple queries to get to a result, and any modern output takes additional manual steps. Additionally, it takes too long to get insight into your data. You can access data with Query/400, but manual work is needed to turn data into insight. Once again, every hour spent on this is an hour taken away from another task.

Upgrading from Query/400 to a modern data access tool like Sequel Data Access will help your organization save time. The ability to utilize the same query to deliver multiple subsets of data by creating a rule that can prompt the user to enter variable information at runtime contributes to significant time-savings, as does the ability to easily gain insight via things like drill analysis, powerful reporting, dashboards, and pivot tables, and data output in many formats.

tip #2

Tip #2: Build in automation of data delivery when possible

Many informational needs are recurring (daily, weekly, or monthly reports/spreadsheets). Instead of many business users spending time every day running the same queries or reports over and over, why not automate the reports to appear in their inbox, in the desired format, when they need them.

Sequel can also refresh data in a dashboard at any time interval with a simple built-in setting. A common example of this use is a company with a distribution center that needs to track fulfillment information. Setting up a Sequel dashboard on a big screen means they can automatically track new orders to be picked and shipped.

Automation doesn’t have to be intracompany only. Several Sequel customers use Sequel to improve things like invoices being sent to outside customers, working with vendors and partners, and improving sales reporting and tracking. Automated access to data can be a large productivity boost to just about any department.

tip #3

Tip #3: Let your BI tool do the heavy lifting

It’s a waste of time for your IT staff to write all the features and interfaces that are readily available in a third-party BI tool from scratch. Whether it’s browser access or dashboards, drill-down capabilities or summary analysis, all you need to do is implement a tool that is already feature-rich. That way, all you need be concerned with is providing accurate secure base data.

Fact: requests for data access are never going to go away. Every leader and every business user at your organization needs accurate information to do their jobs effectively. After all, data drives decisions.

So, saving time isn’t necessarily about cutting down on data access requests. Saving time ultimately comes down to both responding to requests faster with a more flexible tool and utilizing built-in functions of the tool to let business users interact with the information and in effect fulfill their own changing data needs. As an example, a calendar drop-down to choose dates at run time is a very powerful option for business users.

So, both IT saves time because they are fulfilling requests faster, and business users save time because they can find the data themselves without continually going back to IT with different requests. Sequel makes IT staff and business users fulfilling data access requests quick and easy.

“I can write scripts on the fly, and it’s a much quicker way for me to get and sort the data I need. Because of that, I get a much better turnaround time for my work.”

Butch Patton
Programmer
MainSource Financial Group

tip #4

Tip #4: Select a solution built for your platform—IBM i

IT, IBM i is your platform: you know it inside and out. When you use a tool specifically built for IBM i, you know it is scalable, securable, and more reliable than any other platform.

Here’s an important point–the platform should be agnostic to a business user. Business users clamor for permission to use graphical Windows or Web tools because they are comfortable with them. The BI tool should insulate users from a specific platform; they just need a point-and-click, intuitive graphical interface. They want output to Excel, data on-demand, or pivots tables at their fingertips–no matter where the data resides.

The Sequel business intelligence solution is built for IBM i. It gives technical staff robust and powerful programming tools for accessing data on not just the IBM i but from other data sources (Db2, MS SQL server, My SQL) while having the features business users require.

“My background is as an RPG programmer, but for 90% of the things I do, I use Sequel because it’s faster. It takes me a quarter of the time.”

Alan Boulee
Senior Programming Analyst
Fremont Insurance

tip #5

Tip #5: Give your users self-service data access

Empowering users with data access can have a huge impact on IT’s workload.

Self-service can be a multiple prong approach. One option is to set users up to have the ability and authority to create queries directly, with IT’s blessing. That query building could be from raw data sources or could be with IT providing various starting points, such as beginning templates or auto-joining of tables.

Self-service also could mean business users do not create queries directly but they have powerful and flexible ways to consume and interact with key information so they can acquire what they need, when they need it. A powerful delivery method for self-service could be a widely desired dashboard from which business users can view, download data, perform analysis, or graph/chart data.

Either way, everyone saves time; IT because they don’t need to field every data request and can roll out different levels of usage by business or department needs, and business users because they can have more control in accessing and assessing data.

conclusion

Saving time means saving money

A smart data access tool like Sequel makes it easy to do more in less time. Sequel is about removing unneeded manual processes, providing automation, security, and reliability of the platform while empowering business users with a modern solution for faster, easier access to their information.

How Much Could You Save?

Sequel Data Access makes it easy for you to get up and running quickly—in under an hour—so you experience ROI faster. But how much ROI are we talking? Find out using our free, interactive tool.