As one of the largest universities of applied sciences in the country,...
Enable U and ROC Twente make student data available in various applications by implementing a flexible IT structure.
Together with Enable U, they have now integrated 13 (and counting!) systems and applications which provides more control over internal business operations.
The integration platform (Enable U 2Orchestrate) enables ROC Twente to integrate information from various sources with various (backend) applications. For example, it is linked to applications for invoicing, HR, employee data, internal IT support and student data. The solution is internally known as ‘Berichtenmakelaar’ (Message broker) and has caused a lot of turmoil since its first implementation.
Elmar: “When we were in the initial phases of the public tender, we all agreed; the internal IT integration structure needs a better, future proof, design which allows us to act faster. The myriad of integrations that different departments had implemented often resulted in a puzzle tour for the IT department. Not only was the integration structure for the various applications not standardized, there were absolutely no opportunities to reuse data and accelerate other processes. The design was not very efficient and there was a lack of direction. For us, being in control means we think in processes instead of a point-to-point approach to data. Our application landscape was not set up for this, but we knew where we wanted to go.”
Elmar: “It was quite difficult for our management to grasp the concept of an integration solution, let alone to see the business case”
Things like control, security, the reuse of data and reduces maintenance are certainly important, but it is difficult to attach real numbers to these things. We had to use recognizable and striking metaphors to demonstrate the current inefficiency and that helped us to get the necessary support.”
In the meantime we have realized some beautiful processes and already, several departments are reaping the benefits of this. Michel gives a striking example of an integration that is now live: “A connection has been created with the integration platform between the source of student data and the application for the electronic learning environment (Cumlaude). The same connection is also used for the management (Snow) and the system that contains all documents relation to examination results. A modular structure has been chosen so that new purchasing applications can be added quickly in the future. With these integrations, manual work is no longer required to request information and it also saves a lot of administration. In fact; in the event of an error message in the process, a ticket is automatically generated in the Topdesk support application.”
Because we have chosen for an intuitive solution, we are able to build integrations ourself with relatively little technical knowledge.
Rutger: “Instead of working with snippets of code to configure integrations, we are able to achieve the same result with the Enable U solution by using a simple drag and drop concept.”
Because of this visual aspect this has, integration is a breeze for us. We even have to be vigilant that we do not go to fast. It’s tempting to quickly build integrations and leave the design, consultation, and documentation for what it is. We must realize that these components are essential for our integration strategy. Fortunately, we receive support from Enable U in this.” Michel adds: “With the integration specialists of Enable U, I regularly play with the design of the integrations we need to built. They have a lot of experience in this area and are always happy to think along with us.”
What are your expectations for the future? Rutger: “We are steadily continuing to create new connections and integrations. We are giving priority to new connections that people have requested but in the long term we will also replace the loosely coupled systems and so we eventually end up with integral application landscape.”
There were also some important learning moments during this project. We increasingly added more structure to the whole process. Rutger: “In the initial phase, we started to work energetically and made a lot of progress in a very short timeframe. As a result, the coordination of the project sometimes disappeared into the background. Regular project and steering committee meetings with Enable U helped us to focus again, which was exactly what was needed. Partly due to the clear consultation structure, we are now on track with our objectives for realized connections and more and more departments now have access to data that is relevant to them.
“Regular project and steering committee meetings with Enable U helped us to focus again, which was exactly what was needed.”
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