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The Information Center at AMP Incorporated - A Case Study
61 M373 The Information Center - A Case Study 118
The AMP Incorporated Information Center was established in January of 1981
Information Center Keith J. Sours SPH with a staff of one (1) supporting three (3) user departments, ten (10)
PROJECT SESSION CHAIRMAN INST. CODE individuals and three (3) software products. An IBM 4341 Group I, VM/CMS
operating system, A Departmental Reporting System (ADRS), Query-by-Example
SPSS Inc., 444 N. Michigan Avenue/Chicago, IL 60611/312-329-2400 (QBE), and APL-Data Interface (APL-DI) were selected for the startup
SESSION CHAIRMAN'S COMPANY, ADDRESS, AND PHONE NUMBER environment. As of January, 1983, the center had grown to thirty (30) user
departments, over 250 individuals and six (6) software products on an IBM
3032. The support staff had been increased to four (4) individuals. In 1983,
the staff will increase to six (6), an IBM 3033 will replace the 3032 and a
comprehensive graphics package will be added. Approximately 125 new indivi-
duals will be educated to use the facilities.
The objective of the Information Center is to increase the end-user produc-
tivity and improve the decision-making process by providing end-users with
tools to allow them to access their data on their own terms.

The Information Center at AMP Incorporated - A Case Study
The AMP Environment
The Information Center (IC) CPU is a dedicated, stand-alone device. Corporate
Sharon E. Woelfling data files are extracted for users by the application development or data
administration staff and loaded to the appropriate IC software product by an
.;0. AMP Incorporated IC staff member. Data transfers are done via tape. End-users can also enter
their own data or obtain external (e.g., market survey) data to be loaded.
c.."t Harrisburg, PA 17105
By providing this service to non-data processing professionals and their
Installation Code: AMP
support staffs, AMP can better address on-demand, variable, unpredictable and
Information Center Project often one-time requests. These often require fast response, capability for
Session M373 easy modification and re-execution on request which is not easily accomplished
in the traditional data processing environment. The intent. is to supplement,
not replace traditional development efforts.
The Information Center department provides tools, education, support and
assistance, and product knowledge, and coordinates acquisition of corporate
data. The end-user provides application knowledge, development resources,
justification (they are charged for services), maintenance and documentation
for their applications.
Software products currently offered include:
1. A Departmental Reporting System (ADRS)
2. APL-Data Interface (APL-DI)
3. APL
4. Query-by-Example (QBE)
6. SAS
The AMP Environment (cont'd) The Charge-Back System
Staff support is available for ADRS, QBE, RAMIS and, to a limited degree, Charges are actually transferred to user departments from Systems Services.
APL-DI. Users of APL and SAS are encouraged to obtain outside education This is the key control mechanism over use of the services. Items charged for
before using these products. Some of the more experienced users make use of are, links to shared files (corporate data shared in read only mode by several
the CMS EXEC language and editor, XEDIT, to support their requirements. departments is owned by an IC USERID), connect time, CPU resource units,
permanent disk storage, tape drives per minute of use, and printing done on
the central IC printer. There is a minimum charge of $2DD.00 per month. All
Getting Started costs associated with the operation of the department including hardware,
software, support personnel and administrative costs are covered by the
It is important for end-user departments considering use of the Information revenues from the charge-back system. The intent is to break even, not
Center to clearly understand their responsibilities. Department managers or produce a profit.
other responsible individuals provide the following:
1. The cost justification through their own departmental budgets. They Potential Pitfalls
are charged as they would be for outside time-sharing and must also
budget for whatever hardware devices (CRT's or printers) they 1. Insufficient staff/underestimating demands:
There should be sufficient staff members to support the number of
2. Securita requirements must be defined by the department manager and users and number of products available. Do not confuse ease of use
conveye to the Information Center staff to determine whether avail- with requirements to support the department. Staff members should
able security features are sufficient to meet the requirements of the have the opportunity to develop a level of expertise sufficient to
department. satisfy most users. In addition to supporting and assisting eXisting
users, staff members could be testing new releases of software,
3. Disaster planning must be addressed to assure there is a clear
understanding of the need for cross-training, documentation and a
back-up method of operation within the user department. As non-data-
reviewing new software products, introducing new users and designing
and loading new files. All of these activities are time-consuming.
~ processing professionals, end-users often are unaware of the dangers 2. Competition from Data Processing staff:
inherent in automation, or of the techniques which can be used to
reduce their vulnerability. It is essential to maintain an open and positive line of communica-
tion between the Information Center and traditional data processing
4. Controls over resource usage require some attention to continue to functions. Their support and cooperation is critical to the
avoid abuse and continue to justify use of the service. Benefits successful operation of the Information Center.
derived must be identified by the end-user for their management as
requested. 3. Differing goals and priorities between Information Center and
supporting Data Processing functions:
The steps a prospective user must follow to become an IC user are:
If the Information Center relies on other departments for support and
1. Define data and function desired. service, their priorities may hinder the ability of the Information
Center to provide the desired service to end-users. It may be
2. Review requirements with an IC Analyst who will help identify helpful to assign tasks required to properly support the user
correct software and data availability. community directly to the Information Center rather than other
functional areas. A bottleneck is likely if the staff must rely on
3. Budget. other departments to install new product releases or obtain file
extracts. A request to tailor the environment to enhance the ease of
4. Order equipment through the Data Communications department. use should not have to go to the bottom of someone else's priority
5. Assign appropriate level personnel.
6. Schedule education. A Concepts Class is a prerequisite.
7. Request a USERID.

3 4

Potential Pitfalls (cont'd) Checklist for starting an Information Center: (cont'd)
4. Uncontrolled growth: 9. Select pilot users.
A charge-back system is essential for controlling growth. Other 10. Educate pilot users.
mechanisms include:
11. Support the Information Center department.
a. Establishing prerequisite education.
b. Requiring user forecasts. What the Auditors might say:
5. Insufficient user training: An audit of the Information Center may be similar to any other EDP audit. The
auditors may look at:
Provide education and be sure user departments allocate time for it.
The philosophy and definition.
6. Users automating the wrong things:
Policies and procedures.
A charge-back system can help control this if the department manager
is aware of their responsibilities for monitoring activities. Proper Internal administration.
education can also reduce the problem. A good rule of thumb to
reconJllend is, "how long does it take manually vs. how long does it Security
take to do in an automated fashion". Also, many tasks require
expertise beyond the level available within a department. Controls over operations processing.
7. User departments assigning inappropriate level personnel: