The OutSystems platform allowed Fidelidade’s developers and IT to quickly respond to changing business needs and integrated seamlessly with existing applications and legacy systems; beyond this, the OutSystems platform also allowed Fidelidade to generate simple .Net code, saving the company from having to maintain yet another iteration of code.
“We are a merger of several companies, so we have a lot of systems, complex applications, and OutSystems makes a difference in this scenario. OutSystems is a strategic platform for us. We use it to develop all front-end integration applications, and also to refactor all the small client-server applications that we have.”
Fidelidade is the leading insurance operator in Portugal, marketing products in all insurance areas as part of a multi-brand strategy. It has the most diversified insurance products sales network in the Portuguese market which includes dedicated sales counters, associated mediators, agents, brokers, Fidelidade branch offices, post-office counters and internet and telephone channel.
Having grown in the previous decade through mergers and acquisitions, the insurance companies of Fidelidade now incorporate several business channels as well as different IT systems, applications and technical personnel from each acquired company.
The challenge was aligning the different teams and technologies with the company’s consolidated IT strategy. A big challenge was that much of the business logic for the different channels was hardwired into the mainframe systems. In addition the team had used screen scraping technology to update the legacy ‘green screens’. The result over the years was a mix of technologies.
Given this scenario, the first approach to get the IT team up and running was to focus as much as possible on a single development platform for all these systems and discontinue all the rest. As such, they discontinued their Siebel frontend systems, since Siebel wasn’t strategic, and focused on the CISN – Internal Channel development platform that most of their people knew.
The IT team began working in this manner, but soon realized that they needed a platform that allowed them to keep up with the channel systems' evolving functionality needs as well as supporting the ability to deliver new channels rapidly.
Furthermore as their internal channel applications began to grow in size and complexity the maintenance team found it could not keep up with the business change requests creating a bottleneck for the company. Effectively, their IT department was no longer able to respond to business in terms of development speed and productivity.
In addition to their internal channel platform the insurance companies’ IT department also used Microsoft .Net. This platform had evolved over time, with several older ASP and newer ASP.Net applications co-existing. Adding to the IT backlog, the older ASP applications were slowly being migrated to ASP.Net.
Along with this application migration, the IT team decided to shift their technical staff to the .Net development platform. This conversion, however, was not successful: it was taking much longer than expected and productivity was still lagging behind their expected standards.
Fidelidade’s insurance companies’ IT department needed a development platform that would support all IT team members and allow them to respond to business in a timely and reliable fashion.
OutSystems Platform was chosen as the development platform for their large-scale IT department because of:
- The increased productivity that OutSystems Platform enables them to achieve, allowing them to respond faster to business demands;
- The short learning curve of the OutSystems technology, allowing for a faster developer transition to OutSystems Platform as well as better resource management in their teams;
- The co-existence of their systems with new development on OutSystems Platform;
- The seamless integration and extension of their systems using a SOA architecture;
- The fact that OutSystems Platform generated standard .Net code, reducing the overhead of having to adopt and maintain a new platform.
OutSystems Platform was chosen as the development platform of choice for business channel applications for the insurance companies of Fidelidade. OutSystems Platform fulfilled the strategic goals that their IT department had defined, namely:
- Increasing their productivity, enabling them to respond faster to business;
- Making team members productive fast;
Furthermore, in terms of features and control, OutSystems Platform provided them with a complete and robust platform that:
- Allowed their existing core systems to co-exist with the new systems, since a big-bang adoption approach was not an option;
- Integrated seamlessly with their existing applications allowing them to be extended with new features in record time.
- Managed the full application development lifecycle.
Finally, the fact that OutSystems Platform generated standard .Net code simplified the dilemma of the IT department having to adopt and maintain “yet another platform”.
As such, they decided to undertake a proof-of-concept (POC) project for the technical viability of adopting OutSystems Platform. The POC’s focus was on the ability to co-exist and integrate with the actual systems. The POC consisted of modernizing a core application by replacing the front end with a modern web based UI. The back end would take advantage of a service-based architecture (SOA), to access services from their core mainframe systems. This approach allowed them to discontinue the use of screen-scraping and positioned the team for additional migrations.
The IT department provided a 26 bullet-point requirements list that was estimated to take 2 weeks to complete by a 2-person team from OutSystems. The POC was delivered successfully in just 1 week.
- Increased productivity - OutSystems Platform allows their IT department to work through their project backlog at a much faster pace and to do projects that would not have been done previously because of their lower priority.
- Reduced training time - People from different backgrounds can become productive and autonomous developing with OutSystems Platform in 2 weeks.
- Better resource management - The IT department can now outsource maintenance projects that used to only be done internally since it only takes 3 days for a new team to learn and develop new applications in their OutSystems Platform’s architecture. They can now better manage resources and easily replace people across teams as they see fit. They now look at resourcing based on the person's business knowledge instead of their technical knowledge, since OutSystems Platform reduces the technology learning curve.
- Increased number of projects - The number of development projects grew exponentially, with their IT department currently having 60 developers and more than 8 simultaneous projects being worked on using OutSystems Platform. The platform provides the flexibility to have multiple projects by utilizing resources from internal, external, or mixed teams while remaining in control of the projects.
- Reduced maintenance overhead - The insurance companies of Fidelidade had over 100 applications before adopting OutSystems Platform. Their new strategy has them reducing the number of applications, while keeping the functionality that is still required. By doing so they have simplified their architecture by reducing the diversity of platforms that they need to maintain.
- Built to scale architecture - OutSystems Platform enables the integration with other systems using a SOA architecture.
- Flexibility in change - OutSystems Platform provides IT with the flexibility to quickly and reliably change and extend the business processes that were previously hardwired to the mainframe systems.
- Better knowledge transfer and IP ownership - Thanks to the model-based development language of OutSystems Platform, they are now able to own the IP in their applications, outsourcing its development to others if they feel the need to do so, and maintaining and evolving the applications internally afterwards.