Case Study Architecture Assessment for an Insurance Company

For a leading provider of life insurance headquartered in Switzerland, AdNovum conducted an architecture assessment of a software system for actuarial calculations built in the 90s. The system lies at the heart of the customer's business and is mission-critical for the client. Therefore, the client was reluctant to touch the base technology, even though the system had run up significant technical debt over the years.

Situation at the Outset

Our client, a leading provider of life insurance headquartered in Switzerland, has operations throughout the globe. In the 1990s, it introduced an application for actuarial calculations, controlling and general statistical as well as regulatory reporting. The application is at the heart of the business of the client. It has interfaces from and to a wide range of IT systems and business functions and is used to this day.

 

While very well maintained, highly reliable and stable, it had nevertheless run up significant technical debt since its development and still runs on the same HW and technology as when it was originally designed and built. It also exhibited deficiencies affecting the efficiency of its use, such as users having to write program code when, e.g., reports needed adjusting.


Moreover, the client was in the middle of a major transformation program which would re-engineer and streamline many of its business processes, a large amount of which are dependent on the application in question. It was foreseeable that the transformation program would require significant adjustments to the application.
Given the above situation, the client decided to engage AdNovum to review the current situation and develop strategic options for replacing or renovating the application.

Approach

After an initial consultation with the customer, our consultants proceeded as follows:

  • Documentation of the current situation covering hardware, the software stack, architecture, security and use cases
  • Assessment of the technology, the maintainability and extensibility of the system, skills availability in the market, the system’s documentation, dependencies
  • Development of a risk assessment framework to determine the most critical issues
  • Business requirements specification for the new system, particularly taking into account the ongoing business transformation programme
  • Development of a detailed rating model for assessing modernization options
  • Development of three different alternatives to modernize the current system
  • Rating of the alternatives as per the model
  • High-level requirements specification for the best (selected) model and development of an iterative, incremental project plan including a cost and effort estimation

Benefits and Results

  • Independent, vendor-neutral opinion given by outside experts who are unbiased with the application's history, the technology vendor's strategy, etc.
  • AdNovum’s subject matter experts were able to cover additional aspects such as SDLC process optimizations and enhancing the user experience – expertise which the client lacked internally.
  • Clear picture of the current state of the application, covering strengths and weaknesses as well as risks.
  • Outside experts are capable of delivering architecture in line with the general market’s best practices and standards due to their wide experience in working with dozens of clients.
  • Clear, soundly documented and justified opinion on why the current system needs to be modernized to eliminate certain unacceptable risks.
  • Multiple practical approaches to said modernization, all of which have been tried and tested by AdNovum in real life.
  • Clear picture of the costs, risks and timelines involved in the various options.
  • Business perspective and requirements driving all the above.