Price says that the rollout of the scheduling tool went smoothly. Cypress did find that occasionally a schedule would sometimes "hang" as a result of a miscommunication between the agent and the central computer running the jobs. It happened enough initially that Cypress took the issue back to the ActiveBatch team, which dug into the code and fixed the problem in short order. "That's what we really liked about ActiveBatch," Price says. "They were smaller at the time than the more established mainframe job scheduling vendors and responsive, and they had very good technical support. They got it straightened out and gave us a version that was rock-solid."
Taking off the Blinders
Since installing the software nearly seven years ago, Cypress has continued to use the solution to run its planning process. Meanwhile, Advanced Systems Concepts has itself grown into a top-tier player in the job-scheduling space, positioning ActiveBatch today as an enterprise application available at affordable pricing, even as it has continued to roll out new versions of the solution. Cypress has deployed the upgrades and also has expanded its use of the ActiveBatch tool into other areas of the business that required similar job scheduling, to the point where the company currently is managing several hundred jobs through the solution. Using a centralized job scheduling program rather than a variety of disparate solutions has helped eliminate maintenance headaches for the company's IT staff, as well as simplified the overall work of managing permissions, alerts and other technical aspects of the scheduling processes, according to Price.
The data warehouse manager says that one lesson he has taken away from his experience is that it is worth stepping back from day-to-day operations periodically and asking whether any given process is being run as efficiently as possible. "We lived for too long without a good solution in place," Price says, "because if you have good people working on a process, they can make it work one way or another. You need to step back and ask yourself whether that's the best way to be using your resources. You need to take off your blinders. It's painful, but you have to do it."