BC Pensions CREMS Cloud Transformation
- Case Studies
Here are some of the major considerations when evaluating a commercial, off the shelf solution when replacing a legacy system with a SaaS solution.
- Best value and price: How can we ensure competition amongst our top potential vendors to get the best value and price?
- Total cost of ownership: How will the cost structure of the selected product stack up over the long term?
- The cost of the capability over time: How can we ensure that both the CapEx and OpEx of the selected solution are reasonable to the business?
- Privacy: Where is the solution hosted? What are the business priorities in terms of data sovereignty?
- Project schedule: How long will it take to implement a selected product and what are your project timelines?
- Configurability/flexibility: Is the solution flexible or configurable enough to meet your needs?
- Product fit for desired future state: How closely does the product match the vision for the future state? In which areas is it lacking, and can those be resolved in any way?
- Reliability and service line maturity: Organizations like BCPC offer critical citizen services for which the government depends on them. How can we ensure that we are selecting a reliable product? How can we best review the service line maturity?
- Support and SLA: What level of support is provided with the product? How might additional support affect the cost? Are there penalties outlined in case the service provider doesn’t meet their responsibilities?
- Contract terms: How can we reduce the risk of price escalation at contract renewal? How can we prevent unforeseen, unexpected and unplanned hidden costs?
This paper is an attempt to share the knowledge gained from SaaS product selection and implementation for various BC public sector entities.
The strategies and lessons learned is explained in the context of a case study about the successful implementation of Event and Training Management SaaS solution to replace the Client Registration and Event Management System (CREMS) system of BC Pension corporation.
The purpose of the project was to select, procure and implement a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution for Course Registration and Event Management. AOT Technologies worked with BC Pension Corporation to research and recommend an effective solution for implementation.
As the implementation of a SaaS solution depends on the product selected, this case study will focus on the process for selection the most suitable tool.
BC Pension Corporation is one of the largest professional pension services providers in Canada. They serve over 560,000 active and retired plan members and more than 1,100 plan employers, paying out more than $349 million in benefits each month ($4.2 billion a year) to over 181,000 retirees.
Their services include providing plan information to members and employers, managing contributions and member records, paying pension benefits, and providing policy, financial and communication services to plan boards.
An important part of serving pension plan members is educating them on how their pension works and how to best plan for retirement. BC Pensions offers both online training and in-person workshops, but their existing Oracle-based registration and event management system was due to be decommissioned. The goal of this project was to find a SaaS replacement for the registration system and implement it within a tight timeframe.
One of the key challenges in achieving this goal was finding a solution with Canadian data residency. BC Pensions aims to collect, use, disclose, store and dispose of personal information responsibly in order to protect the personal privacy of their client. In British Columbia, this is understood to mean that data residency in our own country is required.
Our process for identifying a suitable SaaS solution consisted of three phases: current state discovery, future state definition, and COTS/SaaS product analysis.
1. Current State Discovery
Through discovery workshops with BC Pensions staff members and subject matter experts, we were able to validate any existing business requirements, review current software, and capture in-scope workflows. We also collected and catalogued any relevant artifacts to solidify our understanding of the situation.
Additionally, we reviewed BC Pension’s software and procurement strategy—for example, the organization was interested in moving to SaaS-based tools to reduce maintenance efforts and were not willing to undertake any custom development work.
2. Future State Definition
To better understand the desired future state, we looked at constraints that existed in the project. For example, the tight timeline for the project meant that the new solution had to be something that could be implemented quickly. The selected tool also needed to be configurable enough to meet the current state workflows.
We also worked with the business to understand the projected growth of the services for the next several years. We learned certain services would become increasingly important even if they are minimally used at the current time and we needed to find a solution that could scale throughout their service areas.
We created a report to convey our understanding of the current state and desired futured state before continuing with the analysis of available products.
3. COTS/SaaS Product Analysis
To create a product shortlist, we conducted a cursory review of numerous event registration and course registration systems as well as any tools already in use throughout the organization. There is a wide array of SaaS solutions on the market that can provide event registration functionality, but few of them are capable of successfully handling the varied types of registration options that BCPC provides in their training suite which includes various combinations of variables:
- In-person workshops
- Online courses
- Instructors/Facilitators present
- Self-paced, self-directed
To review solutions, we relied on our own research as well as software review tools like Capterra. The shortlisted products were compared using a software suitability matrix. The matrix included lines for all the key requirements, and it was noted whether each tool could meet these requirements adequately, partially, or not at all. To confirm software functionality and assess things like user experience, we requested demos from solution vendors and even obtained temporary access to a few of the solutions so that we could test them ourselves.
Using this process, we were able to identify a clear winner and 2 runner-up options, which were outlined in a recommendation report. We were unable to find a suitable tool with Canadian data residency, but in the end, we were able to negotiate on behalf of the client to achieve Canadian hosting on AWS for our top selected product recommendation.
Managing the Project
We worked closely with the client to manage the project. As their existing system was due to be decommissioned at the end of the 2018 calendar year, the team was required to stick to strict schedule for product selection and implementation. The tight timeline and need for a solution with Canadian data residency were major project risks that were regularly assessed. Furthermore, there was a large group of stakeholders from various departments within BCPC that had to be regularly consulted throughout the project.
On time, on budget, including setup of the data centre to Canadian AWS, contract negotiations, infrastructure migration to Canada.
There were a few key lessons that our team learned during this project.
- When possible, extend instead of replace. If you’re working with a large organization, it makes sense to assess tools that may be used in other contexts or departments as could reduce software licensing costs. In this project, one of the client’s existing tools was a runner-up option.
- Negotiate with SaaS solution providers about privacy. Privacy is a top-of-mind concern for most businesses these days. Especially with governmental and quasi-governmental organizations. Solution providers recognize this priority, and some may be willing work with you to establish data hosting in your own country.
- Custom contract with SaaS companies can be time-consuming and expensive. When working with solution providers to set up new data hosting options, keep in mind that service agreement contracts will likely need to be updated. As this is a particularly complicated area of business, lawyers will most certainly need to be involved, which may have cost implications for your project.