BPCS Doc Sources
A recurring question answered by Al Macintyre in various discussions is where to locate Documentation about BPCS, which is an ERP from SSA GT. I thought it might be constructive to place a copy of a recent answer here, then next time someone asks that kind of question, send them here. That way, over time, I can improve this listing. There is no way that any directory by me can ever be complete or up to date. Do not expect that. Notice the little yellow envelope, below the XML icons on upper left of my weblog page, if you want to send me an e-mail.
Don't get your hopes up. There is no such thing as BPCS for Dummies. Almost every place that packages some kind of BPCS documentation is trying to sell you something else, and many of these places put more investment into the something else than into the documentation. Traditionally in computing, we technicians know that a picture is worth 1k words, but we manage to deliver the 1k words rather than the picture. I am not a talented word smith, and here I am using inexpensive home web page software ($40.00 / year plus my time) to explore what is doable in inexpensive web design from home PC. So don't expect a professional site here.
There are some vendors with which my employer has had or has a special relationship, and there are some that all things being equal I would prefer to give our business to. But in this directory I am making an effort to remain relatively impartial, listing all the places that I know of that have BPCS support, without favoring any one of them.
Several places I refer to some BPCS service provider as being a full service outfit. What I mean by full service is that they provide just about everything a BPCS using company might need. They might not have 100% of the items on this list, but they can locate for you whatever other vendors are needed to fill the gap. It is not clear to me from the web sites of most of these places whether or not they are in fact full service BPCS providers.
- BPCS Documentation
- BPCS Education and related stuff such as Query/400 for BPCS
- BPCS Consulting
- ERP Conversions & Upgrade support such as Project Management
- All versions of BPCS
- All application areas, those from SSA GT, and enhancements from other sources, and they are one of those sources
- Tech Support
- Modifications assistance
- Hardware needed
- Disaster Recovery testing
- Language Translation that goes beyond what IBM & SSA provide.
Warning ... there are many different flavors of BPCS such that advice that is great for one manufacturer might not be optimal for your company, so general users ought to ask their computer staff to supply them for reference what platform and version specifics you are on.
- BPCS can be hosted by OS/400 (of IBM AS/400 or iSeries eServer), HP Unix, or NT/2k ... which one are you on? Also which version of that OS ... where I work, we are on OS/400 V5R1 using mixed mode.
- Mixed mode means full concurrent support for
- PC access whether client server or terminal emulation;
- dumb terminal NC interactive (simple inexpensive similar to DOS ... you can get an NC for $250.00 ... they are great for scattering all over a factory for easy inquiry by shop floor personnel);
- JOBQ batch operations.
- BPCS has a ton of versions that SSA GT no longer supports, but thousands of manufacturers are still running find off of them ... which one are you on? ... where I work, we are on BPCS V405 CD.
- It might also be useful to know what applications you are running ... they are listed in the SYS800 tailoring parameters ... and some other key facts like if you are using facilities, or keeping everything global.
My suggested sources of documentation that you might consider utilizing are divided into 4 sections:
- that which is useful for Everyone and Anyone;
- that which is appropriate for general non-technical personnel such as end users and managers;
- that which is appropriate for technical computer staff such as programmers, system administrators, and trouble shooters such as myself (I use the title Computer Janitor ... I clean up the computer messes, so that the end users do not have to concern themselves with anything other than getting the job done efficiently);
- places with enhancements for BPCS.
I BPCS Documentation useful for everyone seeking greater familiarity with what is doable - both general end users and computer technical people alike
- Join BPCS_L and review the BPCS_L archives because this is a recurring topic in which many people have commented on many variations of what passes for decent documentation.
- BPCS-L is a discussion group hosted by www.midrange.com
- You can sign up at http://lists.midrange.com/cgi-bin/listinfo/bpcs-l
- You can subscribe to individual postings (as I do).
- You can subscribe to postings in digest form.
- You can subscribe to links to individual posts - I explain here how to do that for the type of link aggregation software I am using, with links to some alternatives.
- The archives at http://archive.midrange.com/bpcs-l/ go back to 1997 and have a wealth of information ... you can search for just about any program name or application, and find tons of discussion about any topic of interest
- Search for "Doc" to get posts where people abbreviate "Documentation"; "Manual"; other words culled from threads related to beginners struggling to learn BPCS basics. In fact the BPCS_L archives have a wealth of info on most any BPCS topic imaginable.
- My "Search Engine Tips" might be helpful.
- Visit www.midrange.com home page then look at Midrange Resources. Search there for BPCS for outfits that provide BPCS services and have decided to have themselves listed there ... many BPCS places are conspicuous (to me anyway) by their absence here.)
- Return to www.midrange.com home page. Search there for BPCS. First on list shows us AS/400 FAQ has a place for BPCS FAQ and we've obviously been neglecting it. That would be a good place to put the answers to recurring questions. In the mean time if you are looking for a user group of AS/400 or iSeries, check out http://www.eserverusergroup.org/
- I go to the Evansville Indiana AS/400 user group which meets 3rd Wednesday of the month ... we have a luncheon in which there is usually a demonstration of some product or service, whose implications are comprehensible to managers and computer technical people alike.
- Some of the general 400 groups have links to BPCS resources.
- Get comfortable with the educational resources of http://www.apics.org the grand daddy of all sources of ERP education.
- Also visit Catalyst http://www.bpcs121.com a BPCS forum that is like nothing compared to BPCS_L http://archive.midrange.com/bpcs-l/
- In your Corporate Memories, identify what company or companies provide you with BPCS Tech Support and continuing BPCS education. Learning BPCS is not easy for any one person at a company. Each company ought to have something in place for continuing BPCS education for all the employees. Find it and avail yourself of it.
- If your company does not now have a satisfactory BPCS educational and
enhancement consultant and you seeking one, there are many fine resources
Don't forget to put the moderator of BPCS_L near the top of your candidates list.
- In all probability there are hand-outs from classes that former co-workers attended. Your company might even have some BPCS Manuals and BPCS Newsletters. There are many companies in the BPCS consulting Biz and most publish some kind of BPCS Tips Newsletters, or BPCS Manuals. SSA-GT and several other firms offer BPCS Classes, and there are also BPCS User Conferences. You can find out about a lot of this stuff in the BPCS_L archives http://archive.midrange.com/bpcs-l/ now that you know what to look for.
- There are BPCS User Groups and User Conferences around the USA, and I would not be surprised if also around the world. Check BPCS_L archives http://archive.midrange.com/bpcs-l/ for info on the one held regularly in your part of the country. If you want to fly into USA to visit one of these shows, I think the best are those associated with SSA GT, NOBUGS (Northern Ohio BPCS User Group). There's one co-sponsored by an Illinois and Wisconsin BPCS User groups, the one at Purdue University, and the one in New Jersey. Check BPCS_L archives for specifics which I do not have handy. In some cases you can find seminar handouts from these conferences off the Internet.
- There are various posters issued in association with various upgrades that chart interrelationships between various files and applications. You can sometimes also find this in some SSA GT annual financial reports.
- Find another BPCS user company in your neck of the woods and seek their help and advice.
- Since I got downsized (working 20 hours instead of 40 a week) I now have time to help someone off-line, provided you not in competition with my employer.
II BPCS Documentation useful for end users and managers - the non-technical staff
- Also review the list above of good places to help any BPCS users.
- There are many more BPCS support outfits than those I am listing here. This web page is trying to emphasize where to get documentation for BPCS. Many BPCS places provide excellent documentation, but only to clients who have other business relationships with them.
- However, to be fair, the fourth section here lists some BPCS support outfits for which documentation is not neccessarily your primary reason for investigating what they have to offer.
- Sometimes it is more important to get BPCS Education from professionals than to be struggling with the documentation.
- Nexgen has a BPCS newsletter, with back issues available to download from their web site, with several articles in each issue that focus on how to get the best value out of some sub-set of some BPCS Application. http://www.nexgeninfo.com/bpcs.htm is what I would call a full service BPCS outfit - tech support, consulting, education, modifications - see my list up top.
- Unbeaten Path International (UPI) http://www.unbeatenpathintl.com/ has excellent manuals from the perspective of end users and managers of the applications, that provide you with the big picture of administering each application, and how they fit together. This is one possible starting place for learning about BPCS and BPCS applications, but not optimal for learning how to modify it.
- Most of the UPI manuals are around $250.00 each and cover clusters of modules, such as everything to do with how BPCS costs work, or all the Planning modules.
- One I would like to have access to in the future, is BPCS Guide for Auditors http://www.unbeatenpathintl.com/audhand.html that lists the gotchas where people often have misconceptions or liable to make mistakes because of those misconceptions about how BPCS works.
- UPI's manuals were developed in concert with their BPCS classes which can be held at their facility or yours ... I suggest the latter ... cheaper to fly one professor into your community & put him up at local motel, than to do that with a bunch of your people.
- UPI is what I call a full service BPCS outfit (see list up top) ... tech support, manuals, education, consulting, modifications, multi-language talents. UPI's web site is one of the most prolific collections of BPCS add-ons that I have ever seen.
- BPCS Navigation Reminders for folks just getting familiar with BPCS, and other beginners.
- Use F1 (help) heavily.
- F1 is the universal HELP key, often cursor sensitive. Put cursor on a particular field then F1 for HELP about THAT field.
- Use F1 at standard menus for a sketch about what each program, on that menu, does.
- Watch for the F24 command option.
- Only one line is allocated at bottom of BPCS screens for summarizing what all the commands do, and sometimes there is not room to list them all there, so F24 is used in those cases to cycle through your options.
- Watch for the Plus Symbol.
- When a BPCS input field is accompanied by a plus sign, you can put cursor there and F4 (prompt) for list of allowable inputs.
- Don't forget Pop-Up Menu.
- F13 from User Menus, or F14 from Main Menus.
- Also check where the ATTENTION KEY takes you (ESCAPE KEY on PC keyboards). Be careful about trying to load programs that you are not familiar with.
- Carefully explore starting Logo Screen.
- Assuming your BPCS security is setup to allow your access, those words at the very top of the BPCS Logo Screen are links to more goodies.
III BPCS Documentation useful for computer technical people - programmers, system administrators, etc.
- Also review the lists above, of documentation for other kinds of BPCS users.
- In your BPCS Library list, locate the source file BPCSDOC which has many members aimed at different aspects of BPCS - the first member you want to be looking at, if you are a software person, is SSALOG00 (the Logic Manual). BPCS is setup to access this through the DOC menu (you need SYS security or other arrangements to get in) but as a programmer I am more comfortable accessing it through PDM. This stuff is poorly cross-indexed but there is a wealth of information there.
- If you are a co-worker (of Al) reading this, you can access this on-line BPCS documentation via menu OS4 option 100 ... please just view it, don't change it without checking with me first. It is in the same library as that which contains the software execution objects.
- We have several modified menus, such as COST (not to be confused with the vanilla CST menu) which includes options to go direct to the official cost documentation or to the document I created that reverse-engineers how the BPCS cost system functions, and gives how-to for fixing things that can go wrong.
- I have added some documents to the collection, with one aimed at general PC users, how to work the IBM search engine for finding BPCS documentation.
- Depending on your version of BPCS, you may be able to locate the source code for much of what BPCS runs. Many of my users have found value in having printed out for them what the help screens show for the programs they often run ... a user sometimes wants to know how to navigate to a particular screen. We have found some eye openers here.
- For example, we now enter labor tickets using the TEAM SCREEN in which you leave the clock number off of the main screen, then after doing the raw materials consumption screen, we get a screen where for one labor ticket we can enter clock times (not decimal times) start stop for a crew of workers. We did not learn how to do this until we studied all the help documentation on JIT600.
- I work with BPCS 405 CD whose base source code is in BPCS405CDS library. File QPNLSRC there contains source code for the help screens.
- When BPCS was installed, or any conversion done, or upgrades added, there should have been media (we got it on diskettes for PCs) with extensive documentation that went far beyond what is on-line with BPCS. See if you can find that stuff in your Company. This info was not much help to someone trying to end use BPCS, but it is big help to programmer type person.
- IBM and SSA co-authored a Red Book on BPCS Performance management, which tells you nothing about the applications or what the software is actually doing. You can download it for free from the Internet in PDF format. We put ours on a CD Rom and printed selected pages into a binder.
- IBM and SSA cooperated on developing an APAR for maximizing BPCS performance with each OS/400 upgrade. Be sure you stay current with all the PTFs listed there.
- There is also a sizing questionnairre from SSA to help you plan that you have sufficient hardware resources to run your operation efficiently. You ought to review this any time you doing any major conversion, such as to a different version of BPCS, or adding an additional factory to your enterprise.
- DS Solutions Manual explains the intended usage of all the fields in all the files, so it really is a life saver for programmers and Query/400 developers. Sample pages are available for download from their web site, so you can see the detail.
- ASAP http://www.BPCSPros.com do education, manuals, tech support, and other stuff - I consider them a full service BPCS provider (see my list up top).
- Someone on BPCS_L (check BPCS_L archives http://archive.midrange.com/bpcs-l/) has a directory of all BPCS files and fields in Excel format.
- A lot of companies use Robot for automated scheduling of their 400 jobs. There is a forum on Help Systems specifically to help sites that have both Robot and BPCS for scheduling BPCS jobs on Robot.
IV BPCS Enhancements and Modifications available
- Also see the various outfits listed in the earlier sections.
- I am not familiar with the nuances of these different products. I am just a guy who works in the industry, and likes to have a list of possibilities handy so that as our needs evolve, I can rapidly locate what outfits offer what we now might need. I have had several personal computer mishaps that have lost me some of my directories.
- Many of these BPCS add-ons I looked at and said I wish my employer could afford this stuff, or my co-workers agreed this would be great for us, I would love to have it, but the reality is that I do not have it.
- Also see BPCS LITE from UPI
- CCS/BPCS Business Partner - they service both IBM 400 biz and BPCS support
- Cost Analysis
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and Mobile Sales Force for BPCS www.x1solutions.com
- Crowe Chizek is one of those full service BPCS outfits, with tech support, consulting, modifications, the whole 9 yards, except their documentation services are for regular clients. They sponsor some of the BPCS user group conference seminar efforts. They do a one day class in Query/400 for BPCS in which the class exercises create reports and inquiries that just about any company would be happy to have. No prior Query know-how is needed as a pre-requisite.
- Display Active BPCS Jobs & Remote View http://www.precosis.com.au/rv1.htm
No tech support from this guy ... he makes share ware stuff for BPCS - download enhancements cheap.
- You will really appreciate this bargain if you find yourself in WRKACTJOB 5-11 a lot looking at task lists, and struggling with people at remote sites and locked offices who have gone home leaving a job in the middle, while you want to run backup or reorg or something ...
- Display Active BPCS Jobs creates a nice chart reminiscent of BPCS/36 VASP showing all the BPCS programs that various co-workers are running right now.
- Remote View lets you transmit end-of-job command keys to abandoned programs, so that they can be taken to a conclusion without messing up the job they were in middle of.
- e-Business for BPCS
- You have several outfits to choose from, that can place BPCS screens and other BPCS software choices accessible by Internet browser, with security over and above native BPCS. For example, your customers can connect via Internet to see how you are doing on orders for them, but do not let customer-A see what you are doing for customer-B.
- These outfits have already done the software development so that you can get e-BPCS for many versions of BPCS, applications - you pick and choose what you want. However some e-BPCS vendors have focused on some BPCS applications such that not all of them are accessible via a Browser.
- Perhaps sales reps in transit access ORD application and some inquiries from their lap tops. Perhaps major vendors look at your MRP/PUR projected or forecasted needs. Perhaps engineers want to verify we are at the right revision level.
- Do not pay for ALL of BPCS webified - only the programs you want on your web site.
- LANSA has a Smart Web version just for about any BPCS application on just about any version of BPCS. www.lansa.com
- New Look has a product for 405 CD onto the web. http://www.looksoftware.com
- X1 Solutions enhanced Customer Order Application to include e-mobile customer support and marketing access to BPCS.
- File Track is not BPCS stuff per se, but I found their software to be dynamite in doing BPCS conversion work http://www.outlookcomputing.com
- BPCS Financials into Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet
- French language BPCS support http://www.atlt.com/public/bpcs-utl00.html
- Global Software www.glbsoft.com/bpcs
- http://www.imcedi.com in Evansville Indiana is one of those full service BPCS outfits, except many such outfits do not have offerings for documentation
- ISA out of Indianapolis http://www.ise-indy.com/BPCS/index.html, replaced their directory of most popular modifications that people want in BPCS with a search engine for you to see if they have an offering that matches your current interests. See if you can get some of their old dead tree snail mail newsletters that provide more info than might be on their web site at any one moment.
- Job openings for qualified BPCS professionals http://www.bpcsjobs.com
- If you are job hunting in general, know who you are communicating with. There is a scam where you are offered a job ... you get a screen to fill in on-line all the particulars about yourself, but the data is really used by a crook who will steal your identity and drain your bank accounts.
- If you are looking for new BPCS staff, be aware that there is a computer virus that comes packaged with a fake resume.
- JSMG http://www.johnson-schley.com
- On Time Tracking Orders from www.systemspluscorp.com
- Do you have a recurring problem with late shipments where the customer support staff don't get a heads up until date of promised shipment that the product can't go out on time? Are you often surprised in mid production by running out of some critical raw materials? With OTTO you can see this coming. You do not have to wait for the surprise.
- Instantly review the status of every customer's orders that are flowing through the shop floor, to verify that they will get completed on time, and which ones are in trouble for what reasons.
- OTTO is an add-on to MRP/ERP.
- Scruggs http://www.e-systemsinc.com
- Tech Support
- OSG from SSA GT
- ASAP = BPCS Pros
- Crowe Chizek
- Nex Gen
© Copyright 2002 Al Macintyre.
Last update: 11/15/2002; 12:47:40 PM.