APPLICATION: Year 2000 -- United
Stationers Supply Co., the largest wholesale distributor of business products in North America, was faced with
remediating its legacy systems for year 2000- readiness while maintaining normal business operations.
The Des Plaines, Ill., firm sells more than 46,000 products that are distributed to more than 15,000 retailers.
United Stationer's nationwide computer-based network is key to this product distribution and to every other facet
of its business.
"This touched every application in the company," said Robert Niedzwiecki, project director. "Any
failure would not only adversely affect United Stationers, but resellers looking for deliveries and customers looking
The project team began work in 1996 with a full evaluation, which included the company's own legacy business
systems, hardware, software and telecommunication networks, as well as an assessment of the Y2K-readiness of its
regional distribution centers and all businesses in its supply chain.
On the assumption that every application was at risk, an impact analysis was performed, and a complete appraisal
of every area was made to determine what was required to bring every system into year 2000 compliance.
Obsolete components were located and removed, applications were upgraded to compliant releases, and non-compliant
hardware was replaced. However, core mainframe applications written in COBOL required a full remediation project.
For the mainframe remediation phase, the team used Platinum Technology's TransCentury Year 2000 solutions suite
to help find, fix and test the MVS COBOL source code of every mainframe application.
"One of the advantages of using Platinum's tools was that they integrated with the existing environment
without incident," said Niedzwiecki. He said Platinum's TransCentury Date Simulator simulated any future date/time
without disrupting the real-time operation of the system that United Stationers uses for its daily operations.
A strategy was developed to allow the continuation of regularly scheduled upgrades and new applications needed
to provide service to users. Finding the time to handle and evaluate the remediation process, while still handling
the usual work load, required detailed project management and strict adherence to the methodology.
The Platinum 2000 Methodology Workbook was used as a guide in planning and implementing the project. Microsoft
Office tools such as Word, Excel and Access were used for documentation, while Microsoft Project was used to monitor project activities and deadlines.
Progress was continually evaluated throughout the project, with MIS management receiving weekly reports. Complete documentation accounted for every component and recorded the date remediation was completed. After remediation, several modules were successfully audited by independent third parties.
However, year 2000 compliance can be threatened by routine maintenance procedures that can introduce new date
issues into previously remediated code.
"We're constantly monitoring any changes we make to the production environment to make sure that we have
not introduced any additional year 2000 impacts," said Niedzwiecki.
-- Rich Seeley
Avoiding failure in the core application systems by completing an inventory
of every system component, and identifying and replacing obsolete components.
Platinum Technology's TransCentury Analysis for MVS, TransCentury File Age and TransCentury Date
Simulator; Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access and Microsoft Project
MVS applications written in COBOL and running on a mainframe
This year 2000 project undertaken at United Stationers Supply Co. was selected as the top
submission in this category for its comprehensiveness, approach and business benefit.
The company took a comprehensive approach to its year 2000 challenge by reaching beyond its in-house legacy systems,
as well as company boundaries, to its business partners and vendors. The effort included a dedicated test environment
and an independent audit. The project also had excellent sponsorship and user involvement.
The submission identified several benefits derived from the project, including the elimination of obsolete components.
The team used appropriate tools, followed an industry-accepted methodology, and employed training and consulting
expertise as needed. In short, the key components to an effective year 2000 project were presented in this submission.
Team Members: Sreedevi Kanna, Mihaela Popescu and Davio Shumpert