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Enterprise Architecture as the Foundation for Legacy Systems Renewal
Human service agencies spend valuable time and money trying to squeeze what they can out of legacy systems that are, in fact, putting the squeeze on already scarce taxpayer dollars. In this era of doing better with less, how can agencies get more out of legacy systems that are outdated, siloed and costly to maintain—maximizing their IT investments while getting steps closer to integrated service delivery?
Service-oriented architecture (SOA) makes it possible for human service agencies to achieve cost savings, time savings and the flexibility to make legacy systems work for the agency, not against it.
The Vermont Agency of Human Services (AHS) is a prime example of how SOA can accelerate the journey to integrated human services.
AHS is unique in that it serves a diverse base of clients in this state of more than 625,000 residents. Unlike other states, the agency is responsible for corrections along with child support, family services, economic services, economic opportunity and aging and independent living, among other areas. AHS also works side-by-side with other state departments such as tax and transportation. These close connections make Vermont—and AHS—a perfect testing ground for SOA.
With state legacy systems dating back 30 years, there is little opportunity to share information seamlessly across departments. And because there is no integrated view of individual clients and families, it is challenging to know what services and programs a family is signed up for and what more they need.
SOA is not a product, a software package or a programming language. Nor is it a collection of Web services. Rather, it’s an architectural approach to addressing the challenges of connecting disparate systems. SOA helps manage the connections of various services, capturing what’s most meaningful in a legacy system, and reusing those valuable components for maximum efficiency and flexibility. It leverages a state’s current technologies, enabling it to update programs incrementally via commercial off-the-shelf, custom build and transfer solutions.
SOA also puts the technology reins into the hands of the business users. Since processes and applications are integrated and standardized, users can often make their own updates. For example, when new legislation is enacted, human service employees are equipped to enter necessary changes into a rules-based engine that applies the standards across the board.
The Vermont AHS is a prime example of how SOA can accelerate the journey to integrated human services.
With the goals of mastering data integrity and putting it into the hands of users (human service employees and business partners), AHS began the journey to building a flexible architecture in an accelerated timeframe.
AHS joined forces with Accenture to jump-start this new infrastructure. The Accenture Public Service Platform is enabling AHS to share data and maintain its integrity across the agency and among a wide range of users. This pre-coded, pre-tested, pre-configured platform helps govern an overall SOA approach and make it easier to implement.
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