Bank One Arizona has decided to take the manual labor out of its systems development efforts.

According to Lamoine Saunders, an executive vice president with Banc One Services Corp., the Columbus, Ohio-based bank holding company's data processing subsidiary, the newly acquired Arizona unit has been developing its mainframe-based core information system for a number of years.

After acquiring the former Valley National Bank earlier this year, Banc One continued to use the existing systems and data processing operations.

Mr. Saunders said Bank One Arizona was having a problem getting the large amounts of information it needed from the mainframe system to decision-support systems and other applications running on networks of personal computers.

In order to get information from one application to another, employees needed to perform hours of manual work collecting, checking, and formatting data.

"A traditional information system requires a serious amount of manual intervention in order to maintain all the files," Mr. Saunders said.

"Often the amount of work needed to maintain the system causes it not to be used."

In an effort to speed up the process of getting information and reduce the amount of labor, the bank began using software that automates the extraction and formatting of information among disparate systems.

The program, called Infopump, can facilitate the movement of textual data while automatically performing any necessary formatting to facilitate the movement of information between data bases.

The bank does not use Infopump to actually access the mainframe computer directly. Rather, the software checks the information extracted from the mainframe, and makes sure that it is moved to the appropriate application quickly and in the right format.

According to Richard Finkelstein, president of Performance Computing Inc. in Chicago, using Infopump is a cleaner way of handling the system and is a fairly generalized approach to loading information from a mainframe to a server.

"It is a cumbersome task to build a program that will extract the information and manage the scheduling of the operation," he said.

"Infopump is a flexible way of managing the data extract loads because the user can change the target server without rewriting the program."

According to Fred Lizza, vice president and general manager of Trinzic Corp., Palo Alto, Calif., the developer of Infopump, the program moves data from one server database environment to another, automatically making all format changes required.

"It [Infopump] knows the specific application and programs the interface so that it can convert the information," he said. "The user does not have to know the code."

"Infopump allows us to shoot information from one application to another with ease," Mr. Saunders said.

"It allows us to predetermine the transfers so that if I want the information on the first and 15th of the month, it will do it automatically."

The system allows the bank to take its data bases and "pump" the information in the various formats to a series of destinations. It works to make sure that information is sent from one system to another in a quick and efficient manner without the hassle of rewriting the data, or writing additional code to interpret it.

"If I have to take a file from one system to another in tape form and load it, balance it, and release it, the process is long and labor intensive," Mr. Saunders said.

"The system allows us to pump the information from one application to another at high speed. It makes the whole information system viable.

"The product has allowed us to do some neat things to lower our costs while maintaining our [present] management information system," he continued.

The bank uses the information extracted from the mainframe system to examine both overall performance and the operations of various lines of business.

"The quicker and fresher the information is, the easier it is for us to manage our operations," Mr. Saunders said.

"Now all of the system's information we need to have is at our fingertips."

This easy access, added Mr. Saunders, enables managers to address problems more quickly. Previously, they had to wait 30 or 60 days for paper reports.

Before the bank began using Infopump, its various departments were required to maintain their records on paper.

To combat the problem, the bank devised a template that appears on the computer screens of department managers, providing them with an easy and efficient way to enter information into the system. The information is entered on a predetermined schedule and is sent directly into the bank's data center.

The bank is now able to access department information on a daily or weekly schedule as prioritized by management, as opposed to having all of the information come in 30 to 60 days after the fact.

"We now have total control of being able to see the information in a time and sequence priority," said Mr. Saunders.

Now the data are automatically gathered in the local area network and put together in a report format that compares the information against predetermined service levels.

Managers are now able to see what areas are out of balance and what things need to be corrected.

"We can now see problems 30 or 40 days quicker than we were able to before and we can address the problem and correct it in a much quicker and more efficient manner," Mr. Saunders said.

"Before, it may have taken me 30 or 40 days to know if we had the problem. We can really home in on the hot spots and continue to improve the services.

"The tools that allow us to link the technologies have become almost as important as the actual information system application, because without them we would not be able to do it," Mr. Saunders said.

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