Thinking in IT chains – Sentia at the Legal Aid Board (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand)

1 October 2018
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Thinking in terms of single applications is a thing of the past. If you want to keep the performance of applications at the optimal level, it is crucial to take stock of the entire application chain, and not just the individual components. This is a philosophy that the Legal Aid Board also supports. The Legal Aid Board is responsible for adherence to the Legal Aid Act, and it regulates subsidised legal aid in the Netherlands. Its initial collaboration with Sentia began when the Legal Aid Board was looking for a party that could safeguard performance in the development of a new application. This new application is now running at full speed, and the partnership with Sentia has been expanded.

Development of a new application

The first joint project to be taken up by the companies concerned the development of an application, the performance of which needed improving. Because the developer could not identify the areas in which improvement was still possible, Sentia was called in to examine the chain in question.

William van der Velden, Head of IM Management with the Legal Aid Board: “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.”

Bart van de Ven, Account Manager at Sentia: “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.”

Thanks to various performance tests with the aid of Sentia’s Yvalidate service, it became clear where the bottleneck was located, and the application was able to give an optimal performance again.

Opitmal 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.

Ricardo Guijt, Performance Consultant at Sentia: “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.”

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.

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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 Sentia, 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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