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data dictionary workThe mainstay of a corporation is the data that it possesses. By data, I mean its customer base, information about the use of its products, employee roles and responsibilities, the development and maintenance of its product lines, demographics of supporters and naysayers, financial records, projected sales ... It is in the organization of this data that advancements to the bottom line are often realized i.e. the nuggets of gold are found. Defining what is important, properly cataloging the information, developing a comprehensive protocol to access and update this information and discerning how this data fits into the corporate venacular is basis of this data organization and may be the difference between moving ahead of the competition or being the one to fall behind.

Whenever we attempt to develop an Enterprise Rule Application, we must begin by harvesting the data upon which those rules are built. This is by no means an easy feat as it requires a thorough understanding of the business, industry, the players and their respective roles and the intent of the application. Depending upon the scope of this undertaking, it is almost always safe to say that no one individual is completely knowledgeable to all facets needed to comprise the entire application.data dictionary

The intial stage of this endeavor is, obviously, to decide upon the intent of the application. This requires knowledge of what is essential, what is an add-on and which of all these requirements/options can be successfully implemented in the allotted period of time. The importance of this stage cannot be stressed enough; if the vision/goal cannot be articulated in a manner that all can understand, the knowledge tap will be opened to become the money drain. Different departments may compete for the same financial resources; management may be jockeying for their day in the sun; consulting corporations, eager to win the bid, may exaggerate their level of competency. These types of endeavors require those special skills of an individual or a team of very competent members to be/have a software architect, subject matter expert and business analyst.

Once the decision has been made and the application development stages have been defined, the next step is to determine which software development tools to employ. For the sake of this article, we will assume that the team has chosen an object oriented language such as Java and a variety of J EE components, a relationsional database and a vendor specific BRMS such as Blaze Advisor. Now, onto the point of this article.

 

Over time, companies are migrating from COBOL to the latest standard of C# solutions due to reasons such as cumbersome deployment processes, scarcity of trained developers, platform dependencies, increasing maintenance fees. Whether a company wants to migrate to reporting applications, operational infrastructure, or management support systems, shifting from COBOL to C# solutions can be time-consuming and highly risky, expensive, and complicated. However, the following four techniques can help companies reduce the complexity and risk around their modernization efforts. 

All COBOL to C# Solutions are Equal 

It can be daunting for a company to sift through a set of sophisticated services and tools on the market to boost their modernization efforts. Manual modernization solutions often turn into an endless nightmare while the automated ones are saturated with solutions that generate codes that are impossible to maintain and extend once the migration is over. However, your IT department can still work with tools and services and create code that is easier to manage if it wants to capitalize on technologies such as DevOps. 

Narrow the Focus 

Most legacy systems are incompatible with newer systems. For years now, companies have passed legacy systems to one another without considering functional relationships and proper documentation features. However, a detailed analysis of databases and legacy systems can be useful in decision-making and risk mitigation in any modernization effort. It is fairly common for companies to uncover a lot of unused and dead code when they analyze their legacy inventory carefully. Those discoveries, however can help reduce the cost involved in project implementation and the scope of COBOL to C# modernization. Research has revealed that legacy inventory analysis can result in a 40% reduction of modernization risk. Besides making the modernization effort less complex, trimming unused and dead codes and cost reduction, companies can gain a lot more from analyzing these systems. 

Understand Thyself 

For most companies, the legacy system entails an entanglement of intertwined code developed by former employees who long ago left the organization. The developers could apply any standards and left behind little documentation, and this made it extremely risky for a company to migrate from a COBOL to C# solution. In 2013, CIOs teamed up with other IT stakeholders in the insurance industry in the U.S to conduct a study that found that only 18% of COBOL to C# modernization projects complete within the scheduled period. Further research revealed that poor legacy application understanding was the primary reason projects could not end as expected. 

Furthermore, using the accuracy of the legacy system for planning and poor understanding of the breadth of the influence of the company rules and policies within the legacy system are some of the risks associated with migrating from COBOL to C# solutions. The way an organization understands the source environment could also impact the ability to plan and implement a modernization project successfully. However, accurate, in-depth knowledge about the source environment can help reduce the chances of cost overrun since workers understand the internal operations in the migration project. That way, companies can understand how time and scope impact the efforts required to implement a plan successfully. 

Use of Sequential Files 

Companies often use sequential files as an intermediary when migrating from COBOL to C# solution to save data. Alternatively, sequential files can be used for report generation or communication with other programs. However, software mining doesn’t migrate these files to SQL tables; instead, it maintains them on file systems. Companies can use data generated on the COBOL system to continue to communicate with the rest of the system at no risk. Sequential files also facilitate a secure migration path to advanced standards such as MS Excel. 

Modern systems offer companies a range of portfolio analysis that allows for narrowing down their scope of legacy application migration. Organizations may also capitalize on it to shed light on migration rules hidden in the ancient legacy environment. COBOL to C# modernization solution uses an extensible and fully maintainable code base to develop functional equivalent target application. Migration from COBOL solution to C# applications involves language translation, analysis of all artifacts required for modernization, system acceptance testing, and database and data transfer. While it’s optional, companies could need improvements such as coding improvements, SOA integration, clean up, screen redesign, and cloud deployment.

 
One of the biggest threats facing small businesses right now is cyber security. Hackers have figured out that small business don’t have robust systems; therefore, they are easy for the picking. If you are a small business owner, you know how limited your resources are. As such, every dollar counts. Therefore, you can’t afford to lose customers, deal with lawsuits caused by data breaches or pay IT help staff to try to fix the issue. Below are some of the IT risks faced by your business and potential consequences. Try your best avoid them at all costs. 
 
1. Phishing 
 
This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to detect if a hacker is trying to get into your system. If you happen to receive an email that claims to be from a financial institution and asks you to provide certain data, ignore it. In fact, delete it. This is because once you make the mistake of opening such a mail or clicking the link provided, you provide a gateway for hackers to penetrate your system and steal information. For this reason, it's vital that all employees  are aware of such emails and delete them without clicking on any links.
 
2. Passwords 
 
Another way that hackers can attack a small business is by cracking system passwords. If the hackers manage to crack the password of even a single employee, they can use that person’s account to gain unrestricted access to confidential company records. Therefore, tell your workers that they should never forgo strong password creation procedures. They should take their time to create a password that can’t be easily cracked. 
 
3. Vulnerable Devices 
 
In your small business, you probably use printers, routers, and other electronic hardware to execute office tasks. Most of the time, such pieces of hardware are connected to your firm’s network. If you have not updated the software on these machines, hackers can use them to gain access to your network and steal invaluable information. Therefore, make sure that you install patches in all electronic devices connected to your network. 
 
4. Lack of Data Encryption 
 
In the modern age, you can send information through various electronic devices. Some of those machines can have inbuilt security features to protect the data while others may not have. Data from the vulnerable devices can be easily intercepted by hackers. If the information is your password, your network is no longer safe. To counter such interceptions, always encrypt your data before your send it. 
 
5. Seemingly Misplaced USB Drives 
 
Some hackers will infect a USB drive with malware and then drop it outside your offices. An unknowing worker may pick up the drive and use it on a company computer. Immediately the drive is plugged in, it releases the malware and creates a unique access point for the hacker, allowing them to steal information. To avoid such a scenario, warn your employees against using any USB drives without a proper source. 
 
 
Managing a small business means that you’re a lean, mean business machine. Often, it’s just you and a few trusted staff members. This is the reason, business owners need to have solid knowledge of where and how most important data is held. Whether it’s on site, in traditional desktops and servers, or in cloud services or mobile devices including those "BYOD" devices of your employees, in order to avoid risks, always pay attention to your enviroment. It's important to make sure that you regularly update your system, train your employees, update software and fix bugs. Often, many IT issues are caused by the smallest, almost unapparent mistakes that will affect how a program runs or a web page looks. You might not see IT as your highest priority, but in the right hands, it can become your most powerful tool for growth. 

When it comes to running a start up, leaders need to make sure that their key players are motivated. This has been seen with many companies. Back in the 1970's it was found with the inspiration and diligence of the late Daniel Nigro when he formed Kleer-Fax. More recently it was seen in David Khasidy, the founder and recently retired president of SunRay Power Management, the most dynamic green energy leader in the US today.

The question is, what is it that great leaders like David Khasidy and Daniel Nigro do that make the difference? How do the most vulnerable companies (start ups) break the mold and become a part of our everyday lives?

It starts with their mission and vision.

Create a Strong Mission and Vision

There are many reasons why start ups fail. For one, they usually lack the capital to last through the lean times. Secondly, they often don't have the tolerance for setbacks that occur. Lastly, they do not have a long-term plan, also called a mission.

When a business has a strong mission, the team knows it and their focus toward their work and service to others within and without the company reflects that. To complement that, the shorter term vision of the company needs to be present as well.

This can even be seen in sole proprietorships with no employees, such as when Brian Pascale started his law practice. His vision was to find justice for his clients while his mission was to build upon a career that had already set precedents in the area of tort law.

As his practice has grown, new staff members can sense the vision and mission he exudes.

Encourage Ownership of Projects and Processes

Start ups need to inspire and motivate their employees because they need to know that they are not only a part of something important, but that their contributions mean something.

What won't happen if they are not there? What contribution do they make, and what are the consequences of them not fulfilling their part of the work?

By encouraging ownership in projects, team members can find that the work they are doing is not only important for the organization, but that they are going to be a big part of what makes it happen. The alternative is that they feel replaceable.

Offer Incentives That Keep the Company Competitive

When team members embrace the mission and vision of the company, and then take ownership for the company's success, they are going to need to be justly rewarded.

This could include flexible schedules (for those who don't need a stringent one), use of an account at a nearby takeout place, or even the potential for ownership as a result of a vesting program.

The incentive everyone is looking for more immediately, though, is cash. When the company takes in more revenue as a result of the efforts of those on the team, rewarding them can go a long way not only in making them feel appreciated, but in encouraging them to bring in more business.

Members of a start up team are usually very talented, and commonly underpaid. However, if they believe they are going somewhere, it will make a big difference.

 

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A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

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