Federal Government Agency – BPR/EAI Case Study

Background

The U.S. Government, across its individual Agencies, has long been challenged with streamlining and speeding up its procurement process. One such Agency had a fragmented procurement process that was temporally impeded by the fragmentation and lack of communication between the people, processes and information systems used across its procurement and financial management offices.

The procurement system was an application suite comprised of a client-server application and a web-based application. The primary financial system was an Oracle Forms application sitting on top of an Oracle database. Transactions between the offices that managed these systems were entirely paper-based: a procurement request would be entered into the procurement system, printed out, and mailed to the appropriate financial approval officer. This officer would then enter the request into the financial system, receive an approval or rejection response from the financial system, and then respond to the procurement requestor via mail or phone.

Deciding to make the push into the next generation of efficiency and integration, the Agency embarked on a project to streamline its procurement and financial management processes. TIBCO was selected as the Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) tool for the project and Blackstone Technology Group was selected to implement the solution as a sub-contractor to Accenture.

The Challenge

Using TIBCO, provide an integration solution between procurement and financial management information systems to create streamlined acquisition processes while providing a reusable integration framework and developing best practices for future Agency integrations.

Phasing the solution from one singular bureau within the Agency to the rest of the bureaus, Blackstone was challenged with developing standards to foster a compatible environment between all bureaus as well as providing a framework for future intra-Agency integration development. Moreover, the procurement and financial systems for all of the bureaus were situated on different LANs instead of the same LAN.

The overall challenge was to design a system that would successfully facilitate the entire process while taking into account the Agency’s architectural and design requirements. Blackstone was selected to provide Accenture the needed TIBCO expertise to develop this system.

Performance

The first TIBCO interface between the financial management and procurement systems was known as Phase I. The interface was successfully created at a single bureau within the Agency. Realizing its success, the Agency tasked Blackstone with implementing this solution across all its other bureaus.

To create a suitable set of development standards, Blackstone and Accenture first began by designing a comprehensive canonical model for the phase II implementation. By creating and providing a complete data-set that encompassed the full scope of data exchanges between systems, the Agency would have a foundation for extending this solution to all bureaus.

A canonical XML document called the Shared Data Object (SDO) served as the focal point of these data exchanges. This XML based SDO design also provided the ability for bureaus’ systems to incorporate extended ORSI data to the canonical model as new requirements dictated.

To create an extensible architecture, the team made use of TIBCO’s Enterprise Message Service (EMS) product which provides a high performance Java Messaging Service (JMS) implementation. This standards-based server allowed for the integration of multiple bureaus while also providing the foundation for the team’s distributed LAN communication solution.

The team used the queues provided by TIBCO’s EMS product to develop a routing mechanism that handled the distribution of messages from each source bureau to the appropriate target bureau regardless of local network. This configuration provided a straightforward solution to the DOC’s challenge.

Results

As a result, the new Phase II process fulfilled its purpose in a few easy steps. By successfully automating the request and response business transactions in the Phase II bureaus through TIBCO, the Agency was able to achieve new levels of productivity not previously known. A process that once could take up to a week to fulfill was reduced to a matter of seconds, and additionally, it was aided by process monitoring and validation logic to ensure successful handling of any potential error cases.

To put it together:

  • Blackstone created a solution that utilized JMS routing between various bureaus, effectively supporting their enterprise LAN architectural requirements
  • Blackstone formulated a solution that supported a reusable and extensible framework for future enterprise integrations
  • Blackstone delivered a solution that improved and streamlined cumbersome and outdated processes between two of the Agency’s mission-critical systems.