The Legal Aid Board: Thinking in IT chains

18 September 2019
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Thinking in IT chains – Ymor, part of Sentia, at the Legal Aid Board (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand)

Thinking in terms of individual applications is a thing of the past. If you want to keep the performance of your applications at optimal level, it is crucial to consider the entire application chain. The Legal Aid Board has taken their chain management to a new level, overseeing the Legal Aid not only for their own chain, but also for the Police and the Dutch Tax Authority.

Single components to application chains

The aim of the Legal Aid Board, in their own words, is to make sure all citizens have access to legal representation should they require any. The Board regulates subsidised legal aid in the Netherlands. The complex and sensitive nature demands reliable safeguarding throughout the IT chain.

Often, companies develop new applications that are tested on performance as an individual component. While implementing the new application in the chain, developers run into many issues they’re not easily able to identify – as they’ve only been given lead over the development of the new application. To examine why the application, functioning well on its own, underperformed in the chain, the Legal Aid Board started working together with Sentia.

“After the first troubleshooting session, we quickly understood that looking at performance is not a one-off affair. It’s a good idea to continuously monitor applications, so that we can prevent problems. To accomplish this, we asked Sentia for help. They now monitor our business applications with their own Ymonitor solution. With this, application chains are monitored end-to-end, enabling us to keep an eye on performance 24/7.”
William van der Velden, Head of IM Management with the Legal Aid Board

“Of course, we are happy to help companies resolve performance problems, but we are really there to prevent such problems. In that way we help IT departments to move from a reactive policy to a proactive one.”
Bart van de Ven, Account Manager at Sentia

With various performance tests, the bottleneck was easily located, so that the application could function the way it was designed to.

Optimal performance in the future

Sentia recently carried out an IT Operations Analytics (ITOA) Value Scan at the Legal Aid Board. This exercise does not only look at the current status of the IT chains, as is the case with monitoring. The Value Scan actually gives insight into the organisational, process-related and technical steps that must be taken in the future to keep performance optimal. A large quantity of performance data is collected in this scan. This is applied to the chain components so that patterns in the large amounts of IT traffic can be discovered. The results are used to determine the Legal Aid Board’s level of IT maturity. At the lowest level, companies are primarily reactive; at the highest level, they follow a completely proactive IT policy.

“ITOA is a strategy that continuously monitors the complete IT environment on the basis of various data sources and makes it possible to assess the impact of malfunctions on business processes. With this, the environments become more predictable, more secure and more versatile. When I spoke with Willem about the results, he said the most important thing is to make clear to the rest of the organisation what we are doing. This also allows us to generate support within the organisation, because every employee can clearly see how we are monitoring the performance of business processes. The first thing we do is to make a generic report for this, in which the user’s perspective is central and we provide real-time insight into the business processes.”
Ricardo Guijt, Performance Consultant at Sentia

Van der Velden: “Together, we have to move towards the concept that it is important to think in terms of IT chains, and not just in individual applications. This phase of increasing awareness is assisted by the steering information that Sentia offers with its solutions. This is an internal process that we are currently fully engaged in. However, even beyond the Legal Aid Board, we want to get this across, especially now that we want to direct not just our own organisation but the entire chain of legal aid.”

Exercising administrative control

The Legal Aid Board does not only have its own application chain; together with other organisations involved in the legal aid process, it is part of a larger chain of applications. The Dutch Tax Authority and the Police, for example, are also part of this IT chain. The Wolfsen Committee, a Government advisory body, has put forward the recommendation that the Legal Aid Council should direct this entire chain.

Van der Velden: “In order to exercise administrative control, it is important that we have the technical knowledge of what is happening in the chain as a whole. Sentia's knowledge and solutions are indispensable for this. Thanks to the evidence that Sentia derives from the various performance tests, we can develop confidence among the other players. With that evidence, we can show which component is causing a malfunction. I am looking forward to being able to guarantee, together with Ymor, the performance in our complex IT chains. Although it also probably brings some challenges, I mainly see great opportunities in the collaboration with all the parties in the chain.”

The Legal Aid Board is a fine example of an organisation in which all of Sentia's expertise is utilised. Chain monitoring, troubleshooting, performance testing, and a thorough knowledge of the field. Now it is time to make the successes clear to the rest of the organisation and to the chain partners. Thanks to Sentia, the Legal Aid Board can retain a grip on and control over its own IT chain and, in the future, take up the administrative management.

The Legal Aid Board uses the Ymonitor Platform (module Essentials)

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