RPG Training Program Spun Up by Trucking Industry Outsourcer
February 7, 2024 Alex Woodie
If you’re in the trucking business and need RPG programmers, you might want to check out the outsourcing firm DDC FPO, which has spun up a new program in the Philippines to train junior RPG programmers to work at American trucking firms.
DDC FPO is one of the country’s largest business process outsourcing (BPO) firms serving the trucking industry. The company, which is headquartered in Evergreen, Colorado, works with more than half of the country’s less-than-truckload (LTL) operators. About one-third of the bills of lading generated daily are generated by DDC FPO workers, the company claims.
The IBM i platform has an outsize presence in the trucking industry, so it’s not a surprise that DDC FPO (which is short for Direct Data Capture Freight Process Outsourcing) is familiar with it. Since DDC began specializing in trucking 18 years ago, the company and its workers have developed a considerable amount of skill in navigating the computer platform and working with applications, particularly the LTL/400 package that remains popular with trucking companies.
Up to this point, DDC has primarily been on the user side of the IBM i equation, not the developer side. Many of its workers know how to log into the box, navigate to the right 5250 screen, enter information into LTL/400 or other IBM i application, and generate freight bills for its clients.
However, the IBM i needs of DDC clients began to shift as their staffing situations changed, according to DDC Senior Director of Sales Chad Crotty.
“Most of the programming support that they had are either close to retirement, or have already retired and are supporting them as a consultant, just because they have not been able to backfill with any new help,” Crotty says.
“We’re an IT outsourcing provider,” he continues. “We provide resources for a variety of different programming languages, depending on what the needs are. RPG was not an area that we originally supported, but we recognized, after hearing this time and again, that this is a real problem, and our job is to is to support the industry wherever we can. And so we decided to put our heads together and try and come up with a solution.”
The solution it came up with was to start an RPG training program in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, where the majority of its 7,000 global BPO workers reside (the company also has resources in Serbia and Bosnia). Graduates of the program will be able to take contracting jobs with DDC’s trucking clients in the United States, where they will be asked to help maintain RPG programs and complete other programming tasks.
Each of DDC’s classes in Manila is composed of about 12 to 15 students who have already been screened by the company to have an IT-oriented aptitude. The company says that the skills it teaches students include free form RPG, RPGLE, SQL, interactive subfile programming, API integration, FTP processing, generating PDF reports, working with the IFS, working with the Db2 and MySQL databases, managing backups, and working with Fortra’s Robot products and ProData’s DBU. You can see more IT skills the company offers here.
The first 90-day class is nearing completion. When the students graduate next month, the plan calls for them to be placed with DDC trucking clients on one-year contracts, Crotty says. The second class is due to start soon, with a graduation date in May or June.
“Because these new students are coming out fresh, they would they’d be sold at a lower rate,” Crotty says. “They would get on-the-job training, so they’d be a junior programmer basically, working under a more seasoned team. And then after the first year, if they decide to renew, they will have [a more advanced] skill set, so the rate would go up, but it would be in line with whatever their skills are, whatever their skill set is.”
While India may be better known for outsourcing, the Philippines has a strong outsourcing culture of its own. The RPG programmers in Manila will be available during regular business hours in the U.S. A DDC liaison team working in the U.S. helps to coordinate work with the outsourcing team back in the Philippines.
“We have production running 24 hours a day, so we just we outfit the workstations to support whenever the needs are with the customer,” Crotty says. “We might have a team that finishes at 5 in the afternoon and then we’ve got another team that’s coming in at 5 to work until 1 a.m.”
The company is flexible in terms of meeting the needs of its clients. If a client needs RPG III skills, for example, it can work with them to develop those particular capabilities.
However, when it comes to company-specific skills that its contractors learn while working for one of its clients, DDC has policies in place to ensure those skills don’t end up in the hands of their competitors, says Vice President of Global Marketing Madison Conway.
“All of our outsourcing services are dedicated,” Conway says. “A value that we provide is to make sure that the skills sets and talents are dedicated in the way that the resources are not shared so that the knowledge about each client is not shared. So that way, if a client has an RPG programmer, they don’t have to worry about whatever they learn on the job is not going to get carried over to one of their competitors.”
DDC has been fostering technical education in Filipino youth for quite some time under a program called ICOTP-ICT, which stands for Income Creating Opportunities thru Technology Project. Founded by DDC co-founder Jericho “Icot” Petilla, who is the former Secretary of Energy and former Governor of Leyte in the Philippines, the ICOTP-ICT program targets high schoolers who demonstrate an aptitude for IT work.
Thanks in large part to ICOTP-ICT, DDC has enjoyed success finding and placing young Filipinos who are well educated, have good backgrounds, and are willing to take entry-level IT jobs, Crotty says. Quite often, after they get the training and start earning a paycheck, the DDC staffers end up as loyal long-term employees, he says.
“We’ll look for candidates that have the aptitude,” Crotty says. “They may not have the money to go to a proper four-year university, but they have a good head on their shoulders. They come from a good family, and they want to work. So we’ll bring them in, and we’ll train them on whatever the skill sets are that we need support on, and put them through a training program that will get them placed.”
If the RPG outsourcing program is a success, DDC will consider expanding into other industries. The company specializes in trucking, but it also offers BPO resources in banking and finance, utilities, and ecommerce. For more information, check out the company’s website at www.ddcfpo.com.