By Jerry Bujaucius
This week, IT Manager Republic will feature the daily diary of Jerry Bujaucius, an IT manager for a Fortune 100 retailer/wholesaler of commercial products.
Closing down a divisional office location and moving it 1,500 miles away is one of the more daunting tasks that an IT manager can face. Our office, which is scheduled to close about four months from now, houses an IBM AS/400 computer system and 14 PC servers running various business applications that are vital to our organization.
Monday mornings are always interesting at the office. Our business runs 7x24 and generally all 365 days a year. Although we no longer have computer operators working on the second and third shifts, we still need to provide coverage for those hours, as well as weekends and holidays. So we have an on-call operator who gets paged from our AS/400 computer system whenever a high priority message gets sent through the queue. I also get a copy of the pager messages.
This weekend we implemented some enhancements to our order entry system, so there were a few problems from the weekend that had to be resolved Monday morning. Luckily, there were no major casualties—the business was not impacted.
After checking for weekend problems, it’s time to boot up my laptop and see what else happened over the weekend. Before I can get my Lotus Notes e-mail, I get a nasty little message that my Microsoft Internet Explorer browser is looking for a modem connection. That’s strange, since I’m on a LAN. A quick call to my Help Desk operator identifies this as a new problem.
We recently upgraded all our laptops and desktops. Unfortunately, the system image is not quite perfect yet. I’m told we’ll probably be seeing the annoying IE message for a while until the system guys figure it out. Oh well, I can live with that one.
Now it’s time to replicate some key Notes databases. Our corporate address book has more than 44,000 entries, so we don’t necessarily want everyone replicating that file every day. I keep a truncated version of it that contains only people within our division, but I also replicate the entire corporate address book on a regular basis.
Finally, I launch IE and check out the company outages and problems that all of our IT managers admitted to over the weekend. We set up an intranet page so that IT managers could let everyone know when there was a major problem like a system down, a severe network interruption, or scheduled weekend maintenance. This weekend, the only problem was that our system for viewing scanned invoices went down. No ETA. Not a biggie for our office.
I have an important conference call regarding our system move to Memphis. One of the key aspects of our operation is the phone system. Our system is rather sophisticated, with options that allow customers to call in on the weekend and perform stock checks to see if certain products are available. This stock-check system has an interface to the order entry system on our AS/400. Also, our telephone system links directly to our salespeople’s voice mail system. All of these systems have to be picked up and moved to our new location.
Although the Customer Service group is moving to Memphis in July, the AS/400 computer system will not be moved until August. This means Customer Service will be accessing the system remotely instead of locally, as it does now. Thanks goodness applications on the AS/400 are generally character-based. At least we won’t be pushing graphics and pictures over the WAN to get our orders into the system!
A big challenge with this move: We have to acquire additional equipment for the customer service representatives (CSRs). Although we could pick up the existing equipment and move it, we’ve elected not to upgrade their existing hardware and software to the new company standards for financial reasons. It’s easier to just acquire equipment at the new location.
What’s this, a pair of FCC license renewals in the mail? After a bit of research, it turns out that the radio frequency scanners we use for inventory, cycle counting, and the like at our other locations need an FCC license in order for us to use them. We got them about five years ago—well before my tenure here—and the initial licensing period is up. When the license renewals came to the division office in the mail, no one knew who to give them to. Guess who got them?
I meet with the head of our Technical Services group. As the division office closes, some of these people will now be working out of their homes. We’ll have to come up with some specifications for what people working out of a home office will need. Laptops, port replicators, printers, fax machines, extra data lines, and Internet access seem to round out the list. I’ll figure out how they pay for it later.
I do a quick HotSync of my Notes e-mail (plus calendar, to-do list, etc.) to my Palm and head for home.