DRV KBS improves service levels with flexible IT structure

Digital archiving and computer-assisted working methods based on SOA and IBM Content Manager

Published on 17-Nov-2011

Validated on 03 Feb 2014

"Without IBM, we would never have achieved success within this timeframe. All aspects of the project were implemented on time and on budget, which bears testament to the good level of preparation." - Annette Rupprath, Section Chief for Requirements Management, IT Strategy and IT Coordination at Deutsche Rentenversicherung Knappschaft-Bahn-See

Deutsche Rentenversicherung Knappschaft-Bahn-See


Deployment country:

Enterprise Content Management


The German social insurance system is much older than you might think. The first insurance scheme was established in 1260 to cover sick miners in the town of Goslar. Over time, this developed into the current system of pension and health insurance, surviving dependents’ insurance, contractual medical care, mandatory social insurance contributions, shared payment of contributions between employees and employers, and social self-determination.

Business need:
Deutsche Rentenversicherung Knappschaft-Bahn-See (the German Pension Insurance Association for Miners, Railway Workers and Seamen) wants to replace its distributed paper document archives with a central electronic archive. This will enable it to reduce the time needed to access records and improve the service it provides to customers and insured individuals through the use of electronic working processes.

Introduction of a standard enterprise content management system throughout the whole of DRV KBS with a common interface based on a service-oriented architecture with IBM Content Management.

Provides case workers with the right document at the right time and in the right context. Significantly reduces the amount of time spent finding documents and making them available. Provides more flexibility for arranging and modifying organisational structures. Supports initiatives designed to optimise the organisation’s cost structure, business processes and service quality. Increases efficiency through a high degree of acceptance and positive feedback from case workers. Improves case management, increases transparency and provides greater flexibility to distribute workloads.

Case Study

To read a German version of the case study, click here.

The former social insurance scheme for miners is now the service company Deutsche Rentenversicherung Knappschaft-Bahn-See (DRV KBS), which serves over five million insured individuals and customers in Germany. The network system covers pension insurance, with around 1.7 million pensioners and 1.5 active members, supplemental pension insurances in the form of the sailors’ fund, health and nursing insurance with 1.7 insured individuals, a dedicated medical network of more than 1,500 doctors in private practice, hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, a social medical service and a mini job network.

The main administrative offices are located in Bochum, with over 100 branch offices throughout Germany. With around 25,000 employees, DRV KBS is one of the largest social insurance providers in Germany. Insured individuals rely on the association for its unbureaucratic processes, quick decisions and optimal combination of insurance, medical care and rehabilitation.

Electronic archive replaces a mountain of files
The demands placed on the case workers at DRV KBS are constantly on the increase. More cases need to be processed in less time, the demand for consulting services is rising, and case workers need to possess ever more expert knowledge, act more flexibly and provide holistic support to the insured individuals through effective case management. Over recent years, DRV KBS has therefore begun to optimise and consolidate its IT support services. This is intended to make work easier and ensure that available personnel resources are utilised effectively.

“Above all, we wanted to improve the availability of information and make it less dependent on the actual physical storage location of a particular file,” says Annette Rupprath, Section Chief for Requirements Management, IT Strategy and IT Coordination at DRV KBS in Bochum. “For pensions insurance alone, we have 17 administrative offices and each of these has its own portfolio of files. If a different office were to take over responsibility for a case, all the associated files would need to be transferred. And if a file needed to be passed to the Legal department, it would no longer be available to case workers. We wanted to overcome these issues by implementing a central electronic archive, while also streamlining our workflows through the use of an electronic in-tray.”

DRV KBS also required a system that would support the implementation of internal rules for document processing and archiving. The files managed by the pension insurance scheme typically include large volumes of documents, span a large number of years and need to be archived for long periods. The processing of health insurance at the organisation involves a large number of different documents including applications, approvals and written correspondence.

IBM installed IBM Content Manager for document management and archiving at Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund (DRV Bund) in Berlin. It also designed and programmed a service-oriented architecture (SOA)-compliant and reusable archive interface based on open standards.

Following a decision by the governing body, the IBM Content Manager and IBM FileNet archive systems used at DRV Bund were chosen as standard components for the whole group. The path was then clear for DRV KBS, as Annette Rupprath explains: “It was relatively straightforward to integrate the overall archive architecture based on Content Manager into our environment, and we preferred a mainframe platform. Also, IBM Content Manager is a mature product with a clear future development path.”

The main component responsible for communicating with the document management system is the archive interface. This service facilitates a number of operations including the creation, reading, updating and deletion of files within the electronic archive. The interface is based on open standards and follows SOA principles, ensuring it can be reused for all components in an application architecture that need to interact with the document management system via service operations. In addition to providing a connection to the signature archive and an image service for displaying thumbnails, the archive interface is also used by the scanning subsystem and other business functions relating to archiving.

The second main component is the search client service which enables case workers to retrieve files at their PCs. This component was developed by NOW IT GmbH, a joint effort of various pension provider datacentres.

Finally, the system for delivering scanned documents to the archive together with metadata and signatures was developed by OpenText. Case workers view the documents on-screen using an eReview integrated viewer.

IBM developed the overall concept and worked with KBS to install the archiving system together with the associated test, quality assurance and production environments. It also facilitated the integration of external components.

“In its role of integrator, IBM was able to integrate all supplied components into the overall system without a hitch,” says Annette Rupprath. “This was due in no small part to our longstanding collaboration and IBM’s expert knowledge of the archive interface environment.”

Initial planning began in spring 2008. The pilot phase was launched in January 2009 and the system has been in productive operation for around 2,000 users since May 2009.

A combination of intensive training courses, ergonomic workstations and access times of less than two seconds has ensured a high level of acceptance by employees.

“We’ve heard nothing but praise,” says Annette Rupprath. “For us, the archiving system forms the foundation upon which we intend to build a document management system that offers workflow and in-tray functions. The associated expansion is planned to enter productive operation in 2011.”
Around 2.7 million documents relating to pension insurance now need to be digitised, a process that will take several years: not only do the files have to be scanned, they must also be sorted and structured.

In addition to records held on file and incoming post, in future the insurance provider also intends to digitise and archive documents generated and sent internally. This includes the checking of account balances, which are generated using dedicated host procedures and batch runs and are currently still processed in paper form. Once the changeover is complete, case workers will also be able to complete these tasks electronically.

SAP data archiving of Minijob-Zentrale using IBM CommonStore
Minijob-Zentrale is the main collection and registration agency for around 7.2 million marginal part-time workers and 2 million employers in Germany. It uses the Oscare industry solution for statutory health insurance from AOK Systems based on SAP Business Suite and SAP for Insurance.
The mini-job network has to handle large volumes of data, particularly relating to the issuing of change documents, accounting records and the contributions database.

The constant increase in the size of the online database was impairing system performance, particularly in the case of daily backups, and had a negative impact on response times for transactions initiated by case workers.

To improve system response times and keep the daily batch window stable, the rate of growth of the online database had to be curtailed using a new data archiving solution.

Archiving had to be conducted in a technically consistent manner, meaning that all related cases had to be archived together. In order to do this, individual data records had to be accessed and removed from multiple tables, a task that required intensive collaboration between specialist divisions, programmers and technicians owing to the complex logic and programming structures used. Individual archiving objects have been introduced on a gradual basis since 2008.

Although the print lists (daily processing and evaluation records) are archived in a dedicated system, the data itself is archived from the tables to IBM Content Manager via IBM CommonStore for SAP.

Prior to deciding on CommonStore, DRV tested a number of different tools. However, it decided on CommonStore owing to its wide use for data archiving in SAP environments at a number of other IBM customers, and the strategic alignment of the content management system at DRV. IBM quickly connected the solution to the enterprise content management system and made the necessary minor adjustments. CommonStore uses SAP ArchiveLink standard interface protocols and is easily integrated into the overall architecture.

Miners’ health insurance fund optimises workflows
The organisation had different priorities for the enterprise content management system used at the miners’ health insurance fund.

“Our primary aim was to guarantee competitiveness,” says Annette Rupprath. “Scanning incoming post at an early stage will enable us to communicate better and improve the provision of information.”

The volume of documents handled by the organisation is constantly on the increase; each day sees thousands of letters land on case workers’ desks. Good customer service, short processing times and a robust cost structure over the long term are decisive elements in DRV’s ability to compete with other health insurance providers.

One of the main initiatives is the introduction of an electronic archive, coupled with support for electronic processes in the form of digital files and in-trays. The scanning subsystem and other server-based business processes have also been integrated into the system environment. The electronic archiving system needs to meet the same requirements for completeness, integrity and authenticity as the more traditional paper archive. It covers a number of different areas such as insurance offices, miners’ services, hospital service centres, health insurance clearing houses, and sales. Documents are processed directly from the archives.

In addition to the archiving interface, DRV Bund was also able to take over the service component for task management, which includes business functions relating to the creation, processing and deletion of work orders. This service component will support the integration of all future applications relating to electronic work orders. A message-based approach is being used to create the connection between document archiving and order generation. Metadata about the archived documents is contained in the messages and used to call up the relevant service operations for the task management service.

The existing functions of the search client and search client service were expanded to support the workflows for electronic job processing. Access to the central application was facilitated via a Java-based interface. This interface was developed as part of the project for the miners’ health insurance fund and runs in WebSphere Application Server on AIX, together with other services such as the archive interface and task management service. The archive itself runs on the IBM mainframe under z/OS.

The interfaces form the core modules of the overall content management architecture and provide autonomy from the operating system environment.
The system entered productive operation at the end of 2010 and incoming post is currently being digitalised at three selected pilot offices. Over the course of 2011, all administrative processes at the pilot offices will move over to a purely digital/electronic form.

“We are starting with individual case transactions and will then constantly expand this to include all aspects of our business,” says Annette Rupprath. “Correctly classifying incoming correspondence and allocating it to the in-tray of the relevant employee is key to the system’s success. We have already identified significant increases in efficiency compared to offices still working exclusively with traditional files.”

“The IBM project team included specialists from a wide range of subject areas. Their industry knowledge and experience as consultants and integrators made a significant contribution to the success of this complex, large-scale project,” concludes Annette Rupprath. “They took a highly goal-oriented and structured approach. We only had a few months’ time from the initial planning and acquisition of project partners through to the launch of the system in production. Without IBM, we would never have achieved it within this timeframe. All aspects were implemented on time and on budget, which bears testament to the good level of preparation.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Power Systems running AIX Standard Edition, System z

Content Manager, DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows, WebSphere Application Server, CommonStore for SAP

GBS BAO: Enterprise Content Management, IBM-SAP Alliance

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