Program Conversion - Mainframes - Starting Out

The first thing on anyone's mind with a tasking like this is that their job is at risk.  If you're civil service, it may only mean a significant delay in promotion to next pay grade, but the consequences might feel similar.  Being worried about it is a good idea.  The reasons become clear right away.

In government, such systems are often used in some form of public safety, whether law enforcement, health, environmental, or military.  Failure puts lives at risk.  The rest of the time, the lost opportunties are merely billions of dollars.

Project deadlines are often set by legislative mandate, even for private businesses.  This is particularly true for banks and other publicly held corporations.  One particlarly noteworthy shortfall was exposed in the 'Cash for Clunkers' rebate program, where car dealer rebates were delayed due to a slow server.  Other deadlines are immutable, such as Y2K, it will come whether you're ready or not.  In such circumstances management behavior tends to be rash.

Needless to say, people that have been through this once don't do it again.  As a result, nearly everyone in such projects is a neophyte.  So you don't know what you're doing.  You might be a manager with 20 years experience developing client/server systems, or a corporate VP with 30 years spent in management  If you haven't done this before, be prepared to kiss your rear goodbye.

The typical software project runs 18 months and the typical mainframe application is about 25 years old.  Therefore, you will be given 18 months to convert 25 years worth of work.  This is silly, but the deadline is for public consumption.  This is what voters, board directors, and customers want to hear.  Put the deadline aside - you aren't going to make it.

Based on anecdotal evidence, the usual next step is to hire 'everyone' from the systems analyst to the programmer to the technical writer at the start of the project  With these people on board, the next move is to start designing the system, programming the system, and documenting in parallel.  If this also seems silly, you're free to laugh, but it happens all the time.

Given that an existing system is operational, then the design should already be established.  This proves to be true in the way that 98% of human DNA is the same in chimps.  There is a reason the old system is due for replacement.  The intent is to get something that represents an evolutionary improvement.

For those that feel like their system is way overdue for an upgrade, please call 210-734-5575 for free initial consultation.

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