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Document Roundup Barr Enables enterprise Reporting for AgFirst Farm Credit Bank

Easy does it. These words are often used by ranch hands working livestock or handling giant farm machinery, but the phrase is also reassuring to the people at AgFirst Farm Credit Bank. They are the top agricultural lender in the eastern United States and Puerto Rico, and they recently turned to Barr Systems for help implementing an enterprise reporting system. With an installation time of less than two days, AgFirst Farm Credit Bank soon discovered that with Barr on their team, easy does do it - every time.

For AgFirst, as for any banking or lending institution, the trust of their clients and partners is essential. And, with more than $10 billion in loans to more than 85,000 farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses through affiliated financial cooperatives, their top priority is enhancing and preserving that trust.

Much of AgFirst's mission critical data resides on mainframes at their headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina. Since that data is, in many ways, the company's greatest asset, making it available to AgFirst's enterprise reporting system became essential.

Enabling Enterprise Report Management

Until recently, document distribution amounted to a single costly and cumbersome task: moving paper documents from one place to another. Companies relied on these documents to communicate with customers, as well as drive internal transactions and communications. Today, things are different. While documents are still at the center of industry, the way they are distributed is rapidly changing. Enterprise Report Management (ERM) systems allow companies to share and store documents electronically, permitting a degree of flexibility and reliability that was unachievable by traditional means.

It's no surprise then, that enabling ERM is rightly counted among the highest priorities for most large enterprises. That's why Fortune 500 companies are turning to Barr Systems for their solution. For companies like AgFirst, who need to enable existing ERM systems, Barr offers flexible packages that meet their specific requirements. For organizations seeking a complete enterprise solution, Barr offers ERM, data transformation and other enterprise applications through its partnerships with industry leaders.

Finding the Solution

Joan Weaver, systems administrator at AgFirst, hardly expected to find products that both met her company's specific needs, and were easy to install as well. But after reviewing the products currently on the market, and discussing her needs with sales consultants at Barr Systems, that's exactly what she found.

"Joan needed a way to get a large volume of data from the mainframe to her network ERM system," explains Barr sales consultant David Dobbins. "It didn't take long to see that our Print Server option with an ESCON interface would be the perfect fit. It gives her fast transfer speeds and an easy setup."

Weaver's configuration begins with the Barr Enterprise Print Server. It accepts print data from the AgFirst host via the BARR/PRINT CHANNEL option.

"The Barr product has been an exceptional solution,"Weaver remarks. "It worked smoothly from the very first - right out of the box. It performs very well and is easy to use."

"Barr offered the best solution," recalls Weaver. "With Barr, we can use fields from the JES2 banner pages to generate the NT filename. This was the only solution we found that gave us all the capabilities we wanted."

AgFirst's mainframe uses JES2 to control print jobs on the host. When a print request is received and processed by JES2, it prints the document via the mainframe channel to the Barr Enterprise Print Server. The Print Server's spooling capabilities allow Weaver and her associates to route files as needed to the reporting software. Files are simply written to a directory by the Print Server and automatically retrieved by the reporting system.

In addition to BARR/PRINT CHANNEL, Barr offers a variety of ways to capture files on the mainframe, including Network Job Entry (NJE) and Remote Job Entry (RJE) solutions. This flexibility is key to finding just the right solution for customers, depending on their specific needs.

Up and Running

All told, the Barr hardware and software was out of the box and working flawlessly in a testing environment in less than two days. Having succeeded in getting data off the mainframe with minimal changes to the host, Weaver is now completing the rollout phase, with 2,000 internal users and 1,600 reports currently in the system. With Barr powering their enterprise operations, Agfirst made the transition to ERM with confidence and ease.

The most dynamic companies in the business recognize that Barr Systems' solutions are an essential component in managing current print requirements while anticipating future technologies. LaserNet's implementation of Barr solutions to support enterprise reporting systems illustrates the importance of this segment of the printing and data communications industry. Barr offers complete reporting solutions that provide many key benefits to companies who need to get critical data online.

The multifaceted networking environment is not apparent to LaserNet's customers. But, with Barr supporting their printing and storage operations, and thousands of files being processed, this outsource document management company is truly making every second count in servicing their customers' needs.


"The Barr product has been an exceptional solution ... it worked smoothly from the very first - right out of the box. It performs very well and is easy to use."

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