Strategic partner LoQutus optimizes SOA-project at CM by using real hands-on experience
SOA-implementation and roll-out lead to measurable short and long-term results
CM opted for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) which prompted strategic partner LoQutus to create an internal base for the project and provide the required expertise. In this field, LoQutus is certainly not an amateur and CM would immediately reap the benefits from its experience.
The mission of CM (Christian Mutuality) is threefold: managing and implementing the mandatory health insurance, organizing the associated services and benefits, and providing advice, support and information on health topics.
CM initiated a large-scale project called “Masterplan Uitkeringen” (MPU) [Benefit Master Plan] in view of completely changing the organization and cooperation in the ‘benefits sector’, on the business process level and on the IT level. IT decided to work with Service Oriented Architecture and in particular with the SOA Suite tool. Application Architect Joost Heldens explains this choice: “We quickly established that there was little SOA-expertise available internally. Also, we were far behind in terms of corporate governance structure – for instance, among others, processes, best practices, guidelines and tools. We therefore started looking for a strategic partner with the necessary expertise to guide us in our requirements.
Proven experience and pragmatic
CM carried out some market research and spoke to various players, but finally chose LoQutus. “We were especially searching for a partner with a hands-on approach”, continues Corporate Program Manager Christel Maes. “One that would produce immediate results. We found this straight away in the LoQutus approach.”
In collaboration with CM, LoQutus established a vision and strategy on SOA that were immediately translated into concrete processes. Further, integrating the project within the existing IT processes was an absolute must for CM to avoid the creation of an isolated project. Finally, the company also examined closely how to integrate the new roles and the required responsibilities into the existing organization. Christel Maes: “From our conversations with LoQutus, we clearly understood that it had successfully implemented similar processes elsewhere. We therefore did not have to reinvent the wheel. The experience was there and the reputation had been established; now it was only a case of applying it to our organization.”
Joost Heldens provides a positive example of this considerable advantage: “We had to describe our services, draw up contracts and specifications within the SOA approach. LoQutus could immediately provide us with a number of templates, which simplified and accelerated the work significantly. A partner with such expertise is worth its weight in gold, every question was promptly answered with a meaningful answer.”
Close to the day-to-day realities, close to the customer
CM currently works with a team of 4 LoQutus employees on a full time basis. Joost Heldens comments: “This type of work cannot be performed remotely. It is the continuous contact with individuals working in architecture, development, business ... that contributes to a smooth operation. It is always important to compromise when converting theory into practice but some elements will only come to light if you have both feet firmly on the ground and can perfectly feel the uniqueness of the organization.
CM already has a long history with SOA but the earlier experiences were not always so positive. Nevertheless, LoQutus made an important contribution to reassure and align all within the ICT department.
It proceeded pragmatic and targeted manner, it helped to convince all the other concerned parties (management, coaches, architects, developers...) of the benefits. Joost Heldens says: “Due to their daily presence in the work place, the LoQutus staff members are able to monitor everything closely. They check that new developments are scheduled within the ICT integration board and that they actually get implemented. Also an important element is that they listen to the feedback from our staff members, make the necessary adjustments based on the corporate culture of the company and are willing to make compromises.
Walk the talk
The approach is starting to pay off. The team successfully launched the first MPU release last year, and the platform is clearly stable and runs efficiently.
“We still consider ourselves in a learning process, but, at the same time, we have actually come a long way,” states Christel Maes “The team is definitely finding its rhythm and the confidence is growing; we feel that everything is running smoother and better. We can clearly see that the quality is increasing. We should eventually reap the benefits of our SOA approach, when we further roll it out throughout the entire organization. LoQutus worked out a procedure surrounding SOA-governance, which we will implement further during the coming months. The benefits for CM will then for sure become crystal clear.
Christel Maes talks very positively about the current collaboration: “LoQutus walks the talk. They do what they say and they say what they do. The benefits of their expertise and knowledge are numerous; we are really looking forward to further optimizing our services.”