Xerox has made a mission out of simplifying the world of business. By helping companies navigate through the unpredictable, constantly changing world of technology, software and work processes, Xerox has become the world’s largest leading enterprise for business process and document management, and has made organizations all over the world more efficient and effective. As part of their mission to simplify processes, Xerox employs a sophisticated enterprise transaction system to support electronic payments for state-run government assistance programs, such as benefit administration for children and the elderly. Xerox called on Bridge360 to build and implement a set of custom applications for large-scale, public-sector use.


Custom Application Development

The Challenge

In addition to working within the existing parameters of Xerox’s large, sophisticated legacy application landscape, the applications were also supported by core systems and multiple complex rule sets per the state in which the benefits were administered, meaning that each project would have to be developed independently. The state-set rules for public sector benefit programs are astonishingly complex, and the systems needed to work with legacy government systems.

With some of the projects it was possible to reuse software from lower layers of previous implementations, but higher-level layers required more customization. The technology in use was highly stable but the code set was complex and large in response to the high number of business rules and algorithms. Designing within these parameters required extensive subject matter knowledge and supporting documentation, and even small changes required careful design and thorough regression tests.

The tight operational scheduling requirements, combined with huge processing volumes, required highly efficient solutions. Small errors accumulated quickly if allowed into the production environment. These public-sector solutions had many stakeholders and all results had to be demonstratively correct to all parties. Timelines for new implementations and for upgrades were aggressive, with severe penalties for missed deadlines.

Validation of design and programming efforts against business requirements required a test case library and execution capability that matched up to the significant complexity involved. Given the fast pace of new deployments and evolution of the business requests, the maintenance of the test case library and the knowledge to execute required a strong team and an appetite for continuous learning.

3D outline of continental United States, filled in with partial image of U.S. currency and a top, left corner of a Social Security Card

Our Steps to Success: Requirements, Protocol and Partnerships

In effect, we had two clients—Xerox and the states that set the requirements for the benefits administration software. We had to work intimately with both stakeholders in order to take the original specification and cast it into concrete results. This meant identifying all the subjective elements of the work to be done, identifying all of the potential conflicts and contradictions, and meeting all the requirements in a coordinated way.

The entire project required a coupled effort. Working within a complex and diverse application environment meant that the Bridge360 team had to become familiar with the internals of the client’s systems very quickly. Instead of developing the projects as a consultant would, Bridge360 supplied experienced, trained teams customized to Xerox’s needs. The teams then integrated with Xerox, adopting their processes and practices and establishing smooth lines of communication. In effect, we grafted ourselves into the Xerox team in order to deliver the software quickly and smoothly, and we boosted their capabilities almost immediately.

Because of the specialized requirements specific to each state’s application, much of the coding and quality assurance was performed by the Bridge360 team, with assistance from Xerox team members who were experts on prior implementations.

The quality assurance engineers studied the business and application level requirements in detail, not only as a means to make sure their work would result in a proper audit of the software, but to make sure they could participate as subject matter experts along with the client team when interfacing with the software developers. Additionally, prior to go live events, the quality assurance team made sure the manual work they had performed to build test cases resulted in a test case library organized and written such that future test automation will be an option.

Software for large-scale public-sector applications with new requirements involves a significant amount of debugging. Through debugging and testing in tandem with the design process, we contributed to better design and error prevention.

There were also changes to the web user interfaces for clients, providers, and administrators. A substantial amount of work went into the implementation of reports, including variations on generic reports as well as custom reports for each deployment.

In addition to meeting the deadlines for implementation, the teams had to be involved in troubleshooting live systems during the first months of operation.

Words: Steps To Success; (1) Requirements, (2) Protocol, (3) Partnerships

The Result: Delivering Benefits Accurately and on Time

With the right team and processes in place, the Bridge360 team developed a great working protocol with Xerox’s team and systems and repeatedly delivered successful solutions for benefits administration applications. As a result, this large-scale client now has the world-class technology support it needs to deliver benefits accurately and on time. Our team augmented Xerox’s to provide not only a fresh eye, but a fresh development of working processes that integrated well with their existing protocols and saved them time—something that would not have been possible by working with a staffing firm or an ordinary consultant.

Post-deployment, Bridge360 provides continued support in the evolution of the software applications through our familiarity with the systems and ability to assist Xerox in meeting change requests. That continuity is valuable to Xerox because it allows them to meet ongoing business opportunities.

Words: This client now has the world-class technology it needs to <em>deliver benefits accurately and on time</em>