Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) was experiencing significant costs in performing mainframe software development due to the high costs of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) software. At the time, the company had a single mainframe that handled loads for development, testing, and production processing activities. As the business grew, and more mainframe horsepower was needed to support this growth, the software costs also increased proportionally. This included costs associated with application development software even though no increase in development was being performed on this mainframe. LabCorp needed a solution to reduce the dependency on mainframe application development software.

As Director – Development Technologies, I was responsible for management and support of the development tools and environments that application developers used to create their software programs. This responsibility also included moving as much application development activity as possible off the mainframe and on to the PC platform in order to save costs. Application development tools supported included: Micro Focus COBOL and Computer Associates COOL:Gen for development targeted to the mainframe, and IBM Websphere Studio for development targeted to distributed environments.

Almost 300 programmers are using these PC-based development tools and environments to create their software programs. Approximately two years after implementation, studies were done to determine the productivity increases from PC-based development tools versus mainframe-based development tools. These studies found that application developer productivity increased by over 18% by implementation and support of PC-based development tools and environments. Extrapolating this productivity increase into headcount and dollars results in a savings of approximately 54 programmer headcount and over $4 million in annual personnel savings.

As a result of the successful implementation of PC-based tools and environments, the software vendors frequently use this success as a model installation of reference for their products and potential customers.