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Automation Exposé - Migrating and Modernizing the Irish Student Grant Process

By DAVID Jenness posted Tue April 11, 2023 10:11 AM


The next Automation
Exposé takes us to Ireland, where we examine a project to refresh a 10-year old FileNet and Case Manager application. Our special guest is the Project Manager Phil Croome of Open Connections, an IBM Business Partner based in Bristol, England. He is joined by colleagues Shaun McDowall and Steve King to help tell the story.

It’s not uncommon for organizations to run their Business Automation applications for three or four years and then look to enhance it with an upgrade - or if it’s not delivering stellar results - maybe build a new solution. But some applications just continue to motor along year after year, doing what they were designed to do. And finally, the software is just too out of date to offer the degree of security and reliability required.

That is the case for Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), which is Ireland’s national education funding organization, which offers financial support to eligible students in approved full-time third-level education in Ireland (and in some cases, for students studying outside of Ireland).

For more than ten years, SUSI has been automating the student loan approval process using IBM FileNet Content Manager and a very early version of IBM Case Manager, called Business Process Framework (BPF). What’s interesting about the application is when a student applies for a grant from SUSI, it launches a workflow that doesn’t close until the student completes their education, which could take years, decades even.

While the system was operating as designed, a security sweep showed vulnerabilities that needed to be addressed, and elements of the software, including BPF, were out of support. Clearly, SUSI needed to modernize its solution, which provided a great opportunity to rethink the design and architecture and migrate SUSI to the IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation

There were a number of challenges facing this project, including maintaining connectivity with many external sources, and upgrading the interfaces to be both modern and yet consistent with how people were used to operating. Perhaps the biggest challenge was how to migrate thousands of in-flight workflows without disrupting students. The team at Open Connections developed some new approaches to meet this challenge and took about 5 months from design to deployment.  You can watch what went down during the episode right here: