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Spools to Microsoft Teams..

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  • Spools to Microsoft Teams..

    hello-

    I am new to as400 with only 3 months experience. My place of work uses it as their inventory and purchasing system. We have several warehouse locations in the same geographical location that share inventory with multiple trucks running between the warehouses shuttling product on a tight 24hr schedule.

    most of my coworkers and my morning is spent putting what we need from the other locations on an excel spreadsheet, our clerk hand keys this into as400, sends the document from their spools to themselves in pdf, emails it to the other warehouse, the pdf is printed and passed around to each inventory manager to approve every line item, adjustments are physically written in ink, the pdf is scanned back to the warehouse that sent it, the order is picked and shipped. This is done for 4 warehouses all trading inventory every day. It’s bananas how old school this is.

    i want to work smarter not harder and I’ve received my manager’s blessing to look into ways to make this easier for everyone. What id like to do is send the order from spools to a Microsoft teams channel in excel format, have each person make adjustments or approve for their respective categories before the clerk makes the hand keyed adjustments and sends the document back.

    it doesn’t have to be excel format, I just think that is the easiest for the ‘old school’ pen and paper types that won’t scare them. It just needs to be a format that can easily be edited as our company does not have adobe to edit a pdf.

    bonus points if we can create a button in excel to upload the information to as400 without the hand keying, but is not required. Even if the clerk still has to hand key the information it should cut down on hundred of emails a week.

    please be gentle I am not a programmer and don’t know a ton about as400 I just am still learning the intricacies of the program.

  • #2
    Hello,

    The AS/400 was discontinued more than 20 years ago. I know many shops haven't changed and still refer to modern systems as "AS/400", but please don't be one of those people! It is bad for you to give people the impression that you work with 20+ years old technology (especially if you do not.) and it is bad for the platform to talk as if it has not advanced in 20 years -- because it definitely has. Please consider referring to it as IBM i.

    As for your issue: It is certainly possible to build Excel spreadsheets on IBM i. The best way to do it, however, will involve modifying the existing programs to write the data in Excel format instead of printing it to the spool. That said: You may be able to find some commercial software that will convert a spooled file to Excel, its just extra work for the computer and less flexible, but I would expect that it is possible.

    Once the data is in Excel format, you could drag/drop it onto Teams. I am not familiar enough with Teams programming to know if its possible to write to Teams directly from an IBM i program or not, however, so I don't know if this can be automated. That would be something that might be worth researching.

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    • avocado
      avocado commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't think your comment was meant to be bougie but it kinda came off that way. I get that the system is old but its a small employee owned company that probably won't update until the technology is no longer supported by common office hardware.

      Thanks for the tips on the issue.. If I wanted to find one of these IBM i programs where would I find them? I am not seeing much but I'll admit I don't know what terms to do a web search for..

  • #3
    Personally, if I was looking at redesigning the process, I'd redesign the whole thing and ditch the spreadsheet and do it via a web interface. IMO, this would be a lot more flexible. The IBM i's are quite capable of doing this via php, node.js, python etc etc.

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    • avocado
      avocado commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks John- I would probably undertake that as a project if I knew how. I'm still in school getting my undergrad in IT with no experience yet. I have taken the CompTIA certs and that is about it so my knowledge of scripting is very limited, with absolutely no experience in programming. I'm also concerned about the "lifers" who have been on the same system with the same processes for their entire career. They're still pen & paper types sending purchase orders via fax so I'm not sure web interface would be their jam.

  • #4
    Perhaps you can convert the spoolfile data to csv and save on an IFS folder on the IBM i and make the folder shared to Windows, and then MS Teams or Sharepoint or whatever can read it from there...? But that is only one way... If someone is then going to edit the file, you'll want to have a process that lets them edit the numbers, save the csv back to the IFS folder, and then a program on the IBM reads that back in.

    However, this is all too tedious too... Giving them the ability to edit things right on the IBM server is better. A web interface as someone suggested sounds good. I have something called Valence by CNX that lets me quickly write programs that the users can run in their browsers and edit files on the IBM server that way.

    p.s. I don't think Scott was necessarily saying that your technology is old, but I think instead he may have been pointing out that if you're on IBM i (which is a modern machine with modern capabilities) you should consider calling it IBM i instead of AS/400. If you truly are still running an AS/400, then by all means call it an AS/400. And in that case, it's useful for us all to know as the recommendations will vary greatly if that's what you're running. What is the model of your machine and the operating system version that you're running?
    Last edited by Viking; July 1st, 2020, 04:25 PM.

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