DIY Software for the IBM i Rarely a Bargain

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Time Money computerWithin every programmer lies the urge to dive into code and create programs. That’s what we are called, right? Programmers. I understand this because I was a programmer for a lot longer in my life than I have been president of a software company. In the early days of the IBM i, aka, the AS/400, I was part of the team of programmers brought in to make sure the AS/400 could run popular applications without a hitch. That was 25 years ago and it was exciting to work on that team. In the years after, I spent a lot of time as a consultant brought in to unravel custom software that was inefficient. It was a lesson to me on why even fairly simply programs actually do need a team of developers. Here are 5 reasons why:

Time is Money

How much money is your time worth to your company? It ALWAYS takes longer than you think to design a program and work out the kinks, especially if you are doing this on your own. You show it to the end users and they ask, can we also do this or that? Sure, you say (thinking I wish you would have asked that in the first place). So this project that you think will take a couple of days tops has suddenly stretched into a week. In the meantime, there are other duties pulling at you. When you factor in the labor costs in actual hours, it is suddenly less of a bargain.

And you are not yet done with programming because….

The Software is Programmed for One Specific Report.

One month down the road, new requests come in for further customization.

  • Can we add the logo?
  • Could you make an excel version?
  • Can you add a mail merge?

The questions never really end because the word spreads like wildfire once departments know they can get you to make PDF and Excel reports. It’s all part of the effort to leverage….

Big Data

These IBM i Power Systems contain a goldmine of information but it’s not very usable in long trails of green paper. Information from multiple sources comes into the servers at the speed of light and at previously unimaginable quantities. Sales departments want to know, in nearly real time, what the weekly figures are and they want the information in a nice standardized PDF or Excel report. Marketing wants to monitor analytics from the new campaign and Accounting wants to improve cash flow by refining the way the company invoices customers and pays vendors.

Now, suddenly, your simple program needs the flexibility to work with multiple departments. And a new wrinkle presents itself in the form of….


We are an IBM partner so we get a heads up on any operating system updates. Our team tests the software for compatibility and makes any necessary changes. Then we let our customers know the update is available and they can download it for free from our website. It takes about 10 minutes.

When the lone programmer suddenly realizes there are incompatibility issues with his or her custom software due to updates, there is not an easy fix and it’s back to the drawing board. And any changes need to get done fast because shutting down the flow of reports within the company and going out to customers and vendors creates a major workflow meltdown.

It’s kind of like the “No good deed goes unpunished” maxim. You start out with good intentions, thinking you will save the company money and also carve out a little more job security but your efforts start backfiring and put you in danger of…

Looking Less Relevant

The inspiration to save your company money by designing these custom programs is a good one. But well constructed and maintained IBM i software that maximizes output can be purchased for only a few thousand dollars. And you are not just purchasing the software, you are purchasing a support team that backs you up.

You are also leveraging the experiences and input of hundreds of programmers or IT Managers just like you that have contributed to the development and ongoing improvements of the software by asking us if we could add a particular feature. For example, a customer recently reached us to us for help implementing a change to the billing process. They wanted to be able to let accounting specify email instead of mailed invoice, based on customer preference. Additionally, they requested the ability to title the mailing Credit Memo, where appropriate, instead of Invoice so that customers understand at a glance that they are not being billed.

DIY software for the IBM i may quickly plug one hole and short-term save a few dollars. But the smarter decision long-term is to invest in professionally developed software. It’s a small investment that brings big rewards in labor, costs, and efficiency.

Interested in seeing for yourself what our software can do to maximize your IBM i Power System? We invite you to schedule a free on-line demo.


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