People matter, too
- By Brian Robinson
- Dec 03, 2000
Don't forget the mainframe users when considering plans for Web-enabling
legacy systems, advised Michael Colburn, who directed such an upgrade while
chief of the National Business Center's applications planning and technology
group. Even though many information technology workers have experience with
Web browsers and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, you still have to accommodate
those who don't, he said.
"People get used to a system and they might not want to change to a
[graphical user interface], even though we have studies that showed there
have been major improvements in the user experience with Windows," he said.
"There are still mainframe users who are not experienced with Windows, and
there's no reason to assume they'll use a browser."
Also, invest well in the training of agency staff members, he advises,
particular in educating mainframe users in the Web and Windows-based development
Don't create resentment by forcing change on the staff. For example,
the use of a new Web GUI for an Interior Department mainframe application
will be optional, and Colburn expects that as many as 40 percent of mainframe
users will continue with the character-based interface.
However, he believes that's more of an age issue. As the older generation
retires and younger people who are used to the Web take over, "the Web approach
will become the norm," he said.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.