Mainframe projects are able to significantly grow your finances and deliver lucrative returns on investment. They can drive a business to success, but they often require substantial investment. The level of risk you take with mainframe investment, and payback period, can be significantly reduced if you follow these top five tips.

1. Risk Benefit Analysis

Carry out a thorough risk benefit analysis before you begin. It might seem like a large undertaking, but any good terminal emulation solution provider will do most of the leg work for you. A good provider will conduct a viability assessment and show you how your systems will work with the new technology. Many vendors also have teams that give business case collaboration services which helps you to quantify and qualify potential returns. Being realistic in the early stages not only helps to establish your project value, but also prevents you from wasting investment on unachievable goals.

2. Choose The Right Provider

Not all mainframe providers are the same. Choose a provider with a proven track record. Mainframe projects are famous for not reaching completion and therefore some providers have better track records than others. There are even some with 100% success rates. These companies don’t take on projects that they’ve not already assessed will be successful. The best organisations will help you to conduct a presales viability analysis. This will help you to assess returns, provide a base case build service to ensure a quick return. They’ll also provide extensive post sales training and mentoring. They’ll have a decent portfolio of customer success stories and should also allow you to contact previous customers.

3. Project Management

Allocate an internal manager to the project. Even the best solution providers will need a good dialogue with your organisation to be sure of success. There needs to be dedicated project management at an appropriate level to facilitate access and ensure all internal targets are adhered to. Mainframe solutions are a collaboration. It is also important to remember that delays and problems can occur internally as well.

4. Contain The Project

Mainframe solutions can drive success in an overwhelming number of areas within a company. They can be mobilised, modernised for powerful customer or partner use, streamlined or used to improve new systems. It can be tempting to continuously expand the project terms, especially when a compelling business case becomes apparent. All too often mainframe projects are doomed by their early success and encouraged to grow beyond their initial remit. Distinct projects should be created, completed and signed off. New projects should then go through the risk value process before they are embarked upon. This allows for realistic measurable goals and allows the most appropriate teams to be formed.

5. Have Distinct Goals

Break projects down into distinct goals. Have you ever wondered how mainframe losses ever got to $18 million? Why didn’t they know sooner that it was going to fail? Why didn’t they cut their losses? All too often with mainframe projects they are viewed as a single entity. People think they won’t know if they are successful until the project is finished and they roll out. This view is dangerous and wrong. A mainframe project should be a set of small goals and managed as such. If one element slips, you need to ascertain why and reassess the likelihood of your success. You must have markers throughout the project even if they’re as simple as establishing a connection, revamping one screen, testing on a small user base, or interacting with a web service.