COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) was the first widely-used high-level programming language for business applications.
While the language has been updated over the years, COBOL programs are generally viewed as being outdated. Today, however, a majority of payroll, accounting and other business application programs, still use COBOL despite the growing popularity of more modern programming languages such as Java, C++ and .NET. In fact, there are more existing lines of programming code still in use written in COBOL than in any other programming language.
After the turn of the century, with many issues around Y2K to be solved, the demand for COBOL programmers was not as great and many schools stopped teaching the language. To many people’s surprise, COBOL is once again being taught in universities — this time to support integration to other platforms and eventually also the move to more modern applications.
Choosing the Right Advisor
Any consideration of an advisor should begin with someone who truly understands COBOL. The reason is that they need to understand the power of the system you have before they can advise you if you should make a change.
Look for an IT consultant that has years of experience with COBOL and business systems in general. It isn’t mandatory that they have experience with your specific industry, but there are advantages to someone that has worked in related fields.
Ask for references and conduct interviews to find out what your IT consultants approach to your COBOL system will be. It is important to note that COBOL is still a viable language for business applications. It might not be necessary to scrap the system entirely. A very experienced and creative consultant might be able to find ways to integrate new functions or other programs into your COBOL system. This can save you a great deal of time and your company a great deal of money.