United Stationers confident

COMPANY: United Stationers Supply Co.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the year 2000-readiness of every facet of the business, including regional distribution center operations and all businesses in the company's supply chain.

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 for products."

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

TEAM

John Clarke

Bill Stroming

Stu Samuels

Bob Heyduk

Tom Karis

Jim Kolbe

Mike Raimondi

Russ Kotz

Judy Schwolow

Greg Langosch

Ergin Uskup

Robert
Niedzwiecki

John Kawa

Pat Engbrecht

John Mueller

John Beletti

Ron Walters

Jim Poleck

Tom Oommen

Dave Dew

BENEFITS:
Avoiding failure in the core application systems by completing an inventory of every system component, and identifying and replacing obsolete components.

TOOLS:
Platinum Technology's TransCentury Analysis for MVS, TransCentury File Age and TransCentury Date
Simulator; Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access and Microsoft Project



PLATFORMS:

MVS applications written in COBOL and running on a mainframe



Keane Report:

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

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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