The project for the reimplementation of applications for arranging insurance, which we began in 2017 after winning the tender, was finalised at the beginning of 2020. We received very positive feedback about this project, which is why we started looking at new areas with our client Allianz, and it wasn’t long before we focused on the modernisation of the company’s internal systems.
We have been working with the client’s representatives on their strategic modernisation plan for some time. This meant getting rid of a few applications. These were historically developed on platforms that are no longer supported today. However, these platforms represented key areas in terms of business operations. Due to requirements for the security and sustainability of further development, we had to replace these applications with new ones.
We replaced applications for the management of the insurance agent network and related administrative operations. For example, the management of offices, amendments to contracts, etc.
The reason why the client chose our company for the implementation of this project was its many years of positive experience from previous cooperation. We managed to deliver all iterations on schedule and in the required scope in the framework of this relatively large project. And above all, without the need to increase the planned budget.
At the same time, administrative operations in the newly created solution were linked to the previous project. As the supplier, this gave us some insight into the business issues being addressed.
The first difference from previous, successfully implemented projects was the lack of an analysis of the required target state. In previous cases, this had always been prepared by representatives of the analytical team from the client’s product department. The only known specifications for the new project were to preserve the functionality of the applications being replaced.
Aside from identifying and describing essential user functions, it was necessary to decide where to incorporate these functions. Whether in a newly prepared application or to extend existing client-side systems to include these functions.
The last, equally critical area was the transition from existing applications to the newly created solution, both in terms of switching and redirecting users to the new application and migrating data to the new solution.
In contrast, we didn’t have to address the issue of chosen technology or our approach to development and project management in this case. Based on discussion with the client’s representatives, we agreed to proceed in the same manner in this area as the implementation of applications for arranging individual products. We also agreed that we would go by way of iterations validated by selected representatives of the client’s IT and business departments.
As there were no clear and detailed specifications, we first needed to identify all areas of modernisation during analysis, together with individual functionalities in these areas that needed to be retained from the applications being replaced. We then assigned owners to act on behalf of the client to these areas. We then conducted a number of workshops with them to discuss and analyse specific functionalities. The availability of source codes for the original applications helped us with specific proposals. A frustrating obstacle to these workshops was the inability to conduct them physically and manage discussions or explain things better in person.
An important approach that we opted for with the client was to focus on migrating existing functionalities only, with minimum enhancements compared to the solutions being replaced. A key innovation was to version all data in the system, thanks to which, for example, we defined changes from a specific date in the future and thus addressed, for example, the promotion of agents. Thanks to wireframes for the new application, which we created during analysis, we were able to give the client’s representatives a fairly accurate idea of what the target application would look like and how the application would work from the user’s perspective. This meant that we had a tool that we used to debug operation for the most part before commencing implementation.
A key task in the framework of analysis was to divide the required functionalities between the newly created solution and the client’s existing systems and applications. The transition to the newly created solution required two key things - to maintain the functionality of existing interfaces to surrounding systems and to simultaneously migrate data to the new solution. To ensure that data migration went well, we created a tool that enabled the whole process of migration to be performed repeatedly and to compare the performance of defined interfaces from the new system with the performance of interfaces from replaced systems. The identified differences were subsequently addressed with the client’s representatives. In this way, we iteratively fine-tuned correct data migration and the performance of defined interfaces.
As planned, modernisation took place in two phases - the first two-week phase involved “shadow operation”, when users performed the same operations twice - in the solution to be replaced, which was still live, and in the new solution. This was relatively time-consuming from the client’s perspective, but it allowed us to refine data details. The second phase was pilot operation of the solution with above-standard support, followed by regular live operation.
We are glad that almost six months after deployment, we can now say that the project was a success and the client is very happy with the final solution and the process of replacing previous systems. Evidence of this is the fact that we have not dealt with any critical priority incidents that have caused the client problems or limited its business since the system went live. Expansion of the system and other administrative operations is currently underway.
The project involved the same StringData team that worked on the successful project for the redesign of applications for arranging insurance at Allianz; our partners on the client’s side were both business representatives and administrators of the original solutions being replaced and representatives managing integrated systems.
“We chose StringData for the new project based on our previous, very successful cooperation. We knew they could complete the modernisation of our internal systems on time and to a high standard. Thanks to the proactive and highly professional approach taken by the experts at StringData, the whole project was very successful. We are very happy with the proposed final solution and the process of replacing existing systems.”