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Government of Norway: The Norwegian State Housing Bank (NSHB)

Accenture teamed up with NSHB in a co-sourcing agreement including application management and operation services for NSHB’s most critical application.

Overview

The Norwegian State Housing Bank (NSHB) is the government’s main instrument for implementing national housing policy. NSHB has teamed up with Accenture as their main partner in a 3-5 years modernisation program. This modernisation program will focus on the delivery of new and improved electronic services to NSHB‘s customers and collaboration partners in accordance with the Government’s eNorway strategy. Service delivery will be based on a new technical platform with extended use of open standards and a highly flexible, scaleable and cost efficient server infrastructure.

The Norwegian State Housing Bank aims high in Norwegian eGovernment.

Opportunity

Five years ago, the communication between NSHB and its customers and collaboration partners was mostly paper based. This made the internal case handling and communication dialogues inefficient and lead to high postage and print costs.

Application management and operations of NSHB’s most critical application was delivered by a third party vendor at annual costs that had not been benchmarked against other vendors for several years. The annual costs for these services represented a considerable share of NSHB’s overall IT budget.

NSHB’s development and operations environments were partly mainframe based using development tools and programming languages which spread had been strongly falling since the mid 1990s. Accordingly, cost effectiveness and access to critical skills were decreasing resulting in an increase in risk exposure.

Their heterogeneous operations environment consisted of several operation platforms each one with its own software products and skill requirements.

“Due to incentives based on increased expectations from NSHB’s customers and collaboration partners in terms of more electronic interaction, the launch of the Government’s eNorway 2005 plan in 2002 and NSHB’s own goal to be a dominant player on the eGovernment arena, NSHB realised the need for major changes,” says Mr. Rune Robertsen, Director of IT and Loan Management.

In a highly competitive bidding process conducted by NSHB in 2002, Accenture won both an application management contract and a framework agreement. This made Accenture the primary collaboration partner for the upcoming modernisation program.

Solution

Starting in September 2002, Accenture teamed up with NSHB in a co-sourcing agreement including application management and operation services for NSHB’s most critical application. The joint application management and operations team, did very successfully, include the application in the NSHB’s in house application portfolio. Thus, resulting in the delivery of application management and operations services to a very cost efficient level and at the highest quality.

In the initial phase of the modernisation program, Accenture and the NSHB devised jointly a long term strategy and plan for enabling NSHB to become a dominant player on the eNorway arena. Accenture consolidated strong commitment and buy-in from NSHB’s management group when forming the strategy and plan. Consequently, several new electronic services have already successfully been delivered and new services are currently being developed. The new services are both provided to customers, collaboration partners and NSHB’s own employees. Furthermore, as a part of the modernisation strategy, NSHB has decided to utilise Altinn, which is the Government’s nationwide electronic reporting system developed by Accenture.

“Altinn will enable NSHB to deliver and manage many of our electronic services faster and more cost efficiently,” states Robertsen. In addition, through utilising Accenture’s expert knowledge on how to apply the Altinn platform, NSHB was able to devise and establish a long term strategy for their electronic dialogues.

An important part of the modernisation strategy, is the use of open standards and open source products. Accenture has together with NSHB evaluated a number of open standards and open source products. The evaluation has resulted in implementation of a J2EE architecture with extended use of open source products and a server architecture based on off the shelves server blades components, virtualization (VMware) and Linux. Best practice from similar engagements both in Norway and worldwide has been applied.

Furthermore, in order to optimise NSHB’s new investments during the modernisation program and parallel application management and operations costs, Accenture and NSHB have jointly developed a new IT Governance model. The IT Governance model captures the whole process from initial concept identification to service delivery/roll out, application management and operations.

Results

“The application management and operations of NSHB’s most critical application have been delivered at the highest quality and annual cost savings has been in the range of 65-75%. Annual cost savings have been extremely important for the modernisation program in order to fuel new projects within the overall modernisation program,” says Robertsen. Accenture’s services have been highly recognised by NSHB. NSHB’s customers have timely and correctly received their payments, which is among NSHB’s and the Norwegian Government’s top priorities.

“The new electronic services have improved the communication between NSHB and its customers and collaboration partners, resulting in a more flexible and automated interaction favourable to all involved parties,” states Robertsen. Around the clock access to electronic dialogues will replace paper based communication. Manually typing will be replaced by automated processing, which in turn will increase speed and quality. By utilising the Altinn service platform for electronic services, NHSB will be provided with a vehicle for delivering new services quickly and more cost efficient. By being a part of the Altinn community, NSHB will have access to the fellowship already shared by a quickly increasing number of Norwegian agencies all focused on achieving the Government’s eNorway goal.

In addition, NSHB will through Altinn have access to a service platform which, due to Government funding, is rapidly growing in functional richness. The Altinn platform with its open ended integration architecture, will also serve as an integration platform between NSHB and its customers and collaboration partners.

The new technical platform which is based on the “Data centre of the future” paradigm will provide NSHB with a highly scaleable (computing on demand), flexible, robust and cost efficient platform for NSHB’s total development and operations environment across the complete application portfolio. “NSHB is now, through the use of open standards and open source products, proactively well prepared for the Government’s future requirements to the Public Sector in this area,” says Robertsen.

The modernisation strategy and plan define a road map, which will guide NSHB into the eNorway future. The strategy and plan are closely linked with the new IT Governance model in order to generate maximum return of value from the investments made in the program. “The IT-Governance model will provide NSHB’s management with a consistent framework for prioritising, deciding and reviewing critical aspects of the program, which in turn will considerably reduce the risk exposure,” says Robertsen.