Last week, the SOA Consortium announced that NY State Department of Taxation and Finance is the special recognition winner for Government/Public Sector in the SOA Consortium | CIO magazine case study contest. NY State Department of Taxation and Finance Case highlights – originally posted by me on SOA Consortium Insights — follow.
The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is responsible for the administration of the state’s tax laws, including the administration of related local taxes, and the management of the State Treasury.
Modernization & Re-engineering: Existing systems had several business issues: User view into the system was not integrated across all platforms and systems, leading to longer training times and an inconsistency of service. The delivery or work was still paper based. The expectations of both internal and external customers changed dramatically with the emergence of the Web. The department wanted to facilitate Web filing and change the processing model to transactional from its historical batch pattern.
Legacy Constraints: Meanwhile the technical side of the house was not only having trouble keeping up with the new demands, but was becoming unable to support all the different legacy technologies. In fact the primary system for processing personal income returns dates back to 1970s and was built on a homegrown database system by experts who have all retired.
Talent & Intellectual Capital: All the while, in both business and technical areas, experts were retiring with considerable undocumented enterprise intellectual capital. The department was finding it hard to recruit the next generation of leaders, because the work involved was not as attractive as other offers.
Cost Reductions: At the same time, the technical organization was being asked to cut costs and reduce total cost of ownership.
e-MPIRE Project: The goal was to establish a 21st century government system and toolset. To meet these goals Tax brought in through RFP a vendor who proposed an Integrated Tax System. The solution was a black box with security, work management and written business rules all built into it. After reviewing the initial high-level design of the vendor, the department decided to dismiss the vendor and implement an approach that lead to a more open solution that leveraged existing assets.
Expected Value: The planned business value of e-MPIRE was to eliminate the risks of having the core departmental systems on unsupported platforms, give the user a single interface into all systems and build agility to adapt to changing legislative and business requirements.
Agility: On the agility part, the annual legislative changes (referred to as annual cycles) for Corporation Tax historically had taken six weeks to code and more than two months to test. Under e-MPIRE R2, and because of the externalized rules and improved testing tools, the annual cycle changes took two weeks to code and two weeks to test.
Optimization: With the implementation of a workflow engine in R2, they found that individual work item time was reduced by 40%, exception inventories were reduced on average by 60% and backlog was reduced by 80%.
Volume: In R3, the ability to process the high volumes of income tax returns and deliver refunds to taxpayers improved dramatically. Historically, barely 150,000 returns were processed a night, with a 24 hour delay for fraud detection. e-MPIRE R3 hit a high water mark of 390,000 returns in a night (ran out of input), which includes a near real time evaluation for fraud.
Business and IT Collaboration: The project team included managers and staff people from across the Department of Taxation and Finance, along with business analysts and programmers from the IT organization.
Two enterprise wide IT organizations participated via dotted line to the project: Enterprise Architecture and Infrastructure. Enterprise architecture had some embedded teams with the project, since the project was going to establish many standards and tools moving forward. The User Interface Team, Java Framework Team and Technical Workflow Team were essentially Architecture’s Centers for Excellence on the project.
The User Interface Team worked with business analysts and users to establish everything from navigation patterns to field naming conventions, all with the intent of having a consistent UI to simplify training and usage.
The Java Framework Team worked with the programmers and architecture teams to develop the coding behind the navigation, tools to aid development (some code generation), develop consistent integration services (to Content Management, Workflow, Business Components, etc.) and with basic application development support.
The Technical Workflow Team worked with business analysts, users and the Workflow team (non-technical team of business modelers) to develop common workflow services, monitor models and process patterns.
The Architecture Team helped align the business with the project because they enforced the consistent enterprise view of process and look and feel (the two places the system touches the users).
There were validation meetings with larger groups of users to validate the design and direction of the project.
The Business Roles and Navigation team of users was established to build the tabsets (functions) for the user groups, establish roles, make sure the right roles have access to those functions, and establish that function in the overall navigational scheme of e-MPIRE.
NY State Department of Taxation and Finance cites four reasons for success:
- Executives (commissioner, deputies and CIO) were committed to the creation of a system that will grow with the department for the next 20 years. This is the most highly visible application at Tax and the one that has the largest impact on the citizenry ($3.5B in refunds in the economy). This was a risky system. It took real commitment and belief to pull the trigger.
- A shared vision of what the system had to be.
- A department culture that facilitated success. The cultural advantages they had were a trust of IT across the department, a history of working together, and within IT a culture of reuse of services (again a pattern of how they work together).
- The considerable effort expended by their users, programmers and partners.
[Disclosures: The SOA Consortium is a client of my firm, Elemental Links. I was a contest judge.]