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Ever wondered about the growing demand and void of AS400 programmers?

This is because of the ever-evolving world of IBM i that is creating the need for specialized, dynamic talent.

If you're an AS/400 user, looking to develop AS400 software development, there hasn't been a better time to hire qualified and talented AS400 developers.

One of the most user-friendly languages, RPG is almost nonexistent due to a lack of young talent, to believe a LinkedIn blog.

Does it mean that the IBM i services are riding toward the sunset?

We don't think so!

Most enterprises continue to have 75-100% of their workload on the AS400 i Series, as per a survey conducted by IBM. The fact states the enduring importance of AS400 developers.

In this blog, we have addressed key steps you can take to protect your AS400 systems’ investment and retain years of knowledge.

Here we go.

Starting with, how to cope with the retirement of IBM i talent?

Here are 4 effective ways you can cope with retiring AS400 iSeries IBM i talent - 

Typically, retirements are announced months or years in advance, meaning you have ample amount of time to prepare. You can follow these effective steps which are followed by leading companies:

Invest in new and existing staff

Along with the loss of a particular individual, the AS/400 talent's retirement creates a gap in planning and support among your existing team members. To protect your IBM i AS400 investment, ensure that the retiring employees are passing on the knowledge to the new staff.

The best way to save you the strain of this situation, practice documentation of the core IBM i knowledge.

Document, document, document

As part of the transition of knowledge to new talent, have your retiring AS400 staff record and document their knowledge of ''how-tos'' that include the day-to-day source of knowledge necessary to keep things rolling in your project.

Consider the automation tools

You can avail of the range of automation tools to assist your IBM i project transition with integration, enhanced development environments, and change management.

It enables your IBM iSeries staff to build in some of their knowledge while experiencing the best of both worlds.

Partner with a strategic AS400 iSeries IBMi Expert

Partnering with an expert can save you the chaos post-retirement of your veteran professionals. The experts come with hands-on knowledge and proven expertise with the AS400 software, domain, and platform to take most of the burden off your team and ensure a smooth transition.

Why AS400 Developers are in high demand?

Here are the top 5 reasons why AS400 programmers are in high demand in 2023:

1. It has been around for decades; thus it requires dedicated staff to manage updates and enhancements.

2. Top global businesses rely on AS400 for their critical business operations, requiring a dedicated team.

3. A significant count of AS400 developers is retiring. The colleges don't teach the program in school, thus there is a wide gap in the expertise.

4. The old AS400 system was known for its reliability and dependency. However, with growing modernization needs, businesses require special knowledge that only the IBM i developers possess.

5. Enterprises often prefer highly customized AS400 applications designed to meet their unique needs. Adept IBM i developers are required to maintain and enhance these customizations.

Hence, the bar for AS400 programmers is going higher despite their lack of availability.

What does an AS400 developer do?

The IBM i developers are responsible for maintaining, optimizing, customizing, and modernizing your AS400 systems and applications.

1. Their first and foremost role includes designing and application development to meet the changing needs of your organization.

2. They are responsible for routine maintenance and performance improvements to keep the AS400 iSeries IBMi running optimally.

3. The IBM i developers are the true guardians of your legacy system. They connect the dots between modern technology and your legacy ecosystem.

4. The iSeries professionals are responsible for minimizing the downtime of your critical operations. They ensure uninterrupted and smooth functioning.

As you understand the role of IBM i developers, here is the best approach to hiring them.

What should be the ideal approach to hire AS400 developer - in-house or outsourced?

While some decision-makers are preaching the benefits of outsourcing, a few others have satisfactory experiences with their in-house team.

This creates a spot among other decision-makers in deciding whether to build an in-house developer's team or hire AS400 developers.

Let's look at the pros and cons of both the worlds.

Pros of hiring in-house AS400 developers

Employee Commitment & Dedication:Hiring a team of in-house developers can be beneficial as they are dedicated to contributing to your project's success.

Comprehensive Business Knowledge: In-house team better understands your company's culture and operations, offering better collaboration and insights on improvements.

Confidence in Quality & Security: The team can provide greater assurance in terms of security and AS/400 software quality.

Cons of hiring in-house AS400 development team:

Higher Costs:Your in-house staff maintenance with heavy salaries and additional benefits can be expensive.

High Recruitment Time: Finding the right in-house talent can be time and resource-consuming, diverting the resources from development priorities.

Staffing Challenges:Again, staffing problems can drive resource waste and missed opportunities.

Pros of hiring outsourced AS400 developers

Cost Savings: It is an undeniable benefit of outsourcing. It comes with reduced staffing challenges and a $0 overhead cost.

Short-Term Commitment: Outsourcing is best suitable for short-team project requirements, reducing long-term commitment.

Focus on Core Business: It enables you to focus on core business operations rather than tangling with foreign technology.

Drawbacks of outsourcing AS400 talent:

Security Concerns:Sharing your hard-earned, sensitive data with external teams can invite security challenges, calling for robust security measures.

Communication Barrier:You may invite communication barriers if you and the outsourced team are sharing different time zones, requiring a clear communication approach.

Limited Control: You may not have complete control over the AS400 software development, requiring tried and tested management tools and clear communication methods.

Despite the dilemma between outsourced and in-house teams, a growing number of decision-makers (especially from the USA) prefer hiring an outsourcing team for their AS/400 project, instead of expanding their in-house team. The reason is that the pros of outsourcing overshadow its cons.

As you have decided to outsource the AS/400 experts, here's how you can find the best fit for your project.

How to pick the right RPG developers for your project?

Here's a checklist of inquiries to be questioned before you engage with the talent:

  • Have you worked on a top-priority RPG development project?
  • What are the KPIs you use to measure the ROI for your RPG development project?
  • Will your internal team of RPG programmers be dedicated to this project, entirely?
  • Is there a need for additional talent to support your current team of RPG developers?
  • How many resources are involved in hiring new AS400/IBM i developers for your in-house team?
  • Do you require a wholesome RPG development team or special RPG talent will suffice?
  • How soon can newly engaged AS400/iSeries developers start contributing to the project?
  • What's your experience in system monitoring, backup & recovery, and system performance optimization?
  • What is the cost of delay in delivery of your project?
  • What is the cost of rework on your project?

Final thoughts

Merely because many talented iSeries developers are about to ride off into retirement doesn't mean the IBM i software development is done for. You can still thrive in their post-retirement era with the right approach.

This blog was brought to you by Integrative Systems, your IBM i development partner, with 2 decades of industry experience and expertise, armed with best-in-industry IBM i developers dedicated to uplifting your project.

Reach out to us today at contact@integrativesystems.com with your queries and our IBM i AS400 professionals will get back to you within 48 hours.

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