German Pension Fund gains instant access to pension data

Reducing costs and transforming customer service with a content management solution from IBM

Published on 10-Sep-2013

"It used to take us days to manually retrieve paper documents from one of our two paper-based archives. Today, with the IBM solution, we can search the indexed data in seconds, reducing the access time by more than 99 percent. This helps us improve service quality." - Falk-Oliver Bischoff, IT Director, German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg

German Pension Fund Baden-Wurttemberg


Deployment country:

Big Data & Analytics, Big Data & Analytics: Customers, Business Resiliency, ECM - Enterprise Content Management, ECM - Essential Content, Enabling Business Flexibility, Enterprise Content Management, High Availability , Information Governance, System z Software


One of 16 regional organizations that form the German Pension Fund group, German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg manages the statutory pension scheme for approximately 6.6 million citizens. The organization employs 3,600 people in 26 offices across the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Business need:
German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg wanted to gain faster access to its pension records in an effort to raise service levels and better respond to citizens’ requests for information.

By working with IBM® Global Business Services® to replace its two paper-based record systems with a highly efficient digitized archive, the organization can provide instant access to millions of pension records.

Helps speed access to data by more than 99 percent, supporting better customer service. By making use of existing resources and skills, this extra functionality is achieved at no extra cost.

Case Study

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

One of 16 regional organizations that form the German Pension Fund group, German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg manages the statutory pension scheme for approximately 6.6 million citizens. The organization employs 3,600 people in 26 offices across the state of Baden-Württemberg.

In times of increasing economic pressure, a stable social security pension system is more important than ever before. As the population ages, more people seek reliable information to effectively manage their pension plans.

Improving access to pension data
To provide reliable, secure management of its customers’ pension information, German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg operates an extensive pension management system on an IBM System z9® server, running the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server operating system. The organization wanted to enhance this core management system by finding a more effective way to collect, archive and access the millions of paper-based pension records that it processed.

Previously, German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg relied on two paper-based archives to store pension data.

Falk-Oliver Bischoff, IT Director at German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg, explains, “In the past, it would take days to retrieve paper documents from our archives and post the files to the relevant office. Relying on this manual approach was expensive and time-consuming, and we sought a faster, more efficient way to access and analyze pension records that would enable us to provide better service to our customers.”

Partnering with IBM Global Business Services
German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg engaged IBM Global Business Services to lead an ambitious transformation project, aimed at replacing two paper-based archives with a single digital archive. The organization worked with IBM to design and implement an advanced enterprise content management solution that addressed its need to gain deeper insight into pension data through content analysis.

Falk-Oliver Bischoff says, “By selecting IBM as a partner, we knew we would be building on proven components, allowing us to implement the electronic archive much more quickly and cost-effectively.”

IBM Global Business Services provided project management support, skills and specialist knowledge throughout the project.

“Thanks to the expert consultants at IBM Global Business Services, we know we always have highly-qualified IBM specialists on hand to support the team,” adds Falk-Oliver Bischoff. “Without their help, the project would not have run as smoothly as it did.”

Building on IBM solutions
The new content management solution is built on IBM Content Manager Enterprise Edition, IBM DB2® for Linux, UNIX and Windows and IBM WebSphere Application Server technology. The solution automatically processes massive volumes of digitally-signed documents, storing them together with relevant metadata in a central repository. The new digital archive serves as the sole platform for all documents at German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg, and is accessed by 2,500 users, who serve thousands of pension fund clients.

To guarantee top performance and availability for the content management solution and simplify administrative effort, German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg chose to host the system in a virtualized environment on its existing IBM System z9 server.

“By running the content management solution on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z we have reduced our operating costs substantially,” explains Falk-Oliver Bischoff. “With its virtualization technology, automation capabilities and management features, IBM System z is the ideal Linux cloud platform for us. The server is extremely reliable and provides unmatched availability compared to other solutions. We currently use six IFL [Integrated Facility for Linux] special processors and we can increase the capacity without downtime, enabling us to dynamically scale up our Linux servers as needed.”

High performance and security
Maximizing the efficiency of the cloud solution, IBM System z supports service-oriented architectures (SOAs) with exceptional throughput rates to rapidly process German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg’s huge amounts of archive data. The low latency and minimal network overhead of integrated IBM HiperSockets™ technology ensures that the organization enjoys low response times, excellent application performance and maximum security by eliminating the network security threats common to distributed systems.

To secure sensitive personal data, the organization takes advantage of advanced security features offered by the integrated IBM Resource Access Control Facility (RACF®) on IBM DB2 for z/OS®. Providing fine-tuned permission management, RACF helps ensure strict role-based access for authorized users only, helping to keep information safe. Thanks to the digital lifecycle management enabled by the solution, it is also much easier for German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg to implement compliance and data retention policies.

For high availability and business continuity, archive data from the content management solution is stored on network-attached IBM System Storage® N6210 storage systems and mirrored to secondary storage systems. IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager creates a third copy at a remote location. In the event of a disaster, German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg can continue operations with minimal downtime from the remote data center location.

Saving costs and boosting customer service
By running the new content management system alongside its core pension management solution on IBM System z, German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg has been able to optimize resource utilization.

Falk-Oliver Bischoff explains, “We implemented the electronic archive with all its features using existing resources and skills. Taking advantage of the IBM System z platform, we can run the new solution without increasing our IT operating costs. Choosing IBM System z allows us to simplify our infrastructure by running all important systems on a single box, without sacrificing performance and flexibility. The small hardware footprint of this cloud in a box is a major advantage, fewer physical systems and connections mean fewer dependencies and fewer parts that could fail.”

The new system has enabled German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg to transform its operations, substantially improving efficiency across all its offices. By providing access to information at the touch of a button, the electronic archive accelerates and simplifies business processes, enabling staff to serve customers more flexibly and provide answers more quickly.

“It used to take us days to manually retrieve paper documents from one of our two paper-based archives,” says Falk-Oliver Bischoff. “Today, with the IBM solution, we can search the indexed data in seconds, reducing the access time by more than 99 percent. This helps us improve service quality.”

Switching from paper-based records to a digital content management solution has also enabled German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg to considerably reduce its environmental impact, eliminating the need for costly print-outs of large volumes of data.

Extending the benefits
The electronic archive solution from IBM gives German Pension Fund Baden-Württemberg the ability to use the millions of documents at its disposal more efficiently, and at a lower expense. Boosted by the success of its transformation effort, the organization is currently helping other German Pension Funds to deploy their own content management and archive solutions.

Falk-Oliver Bischoff concludes: “The IBM solution enables us to reply to requests much faster, boosting customer service. We will continue to increase our productivity by automating business processes and optimizing operations with advanced content analytics, something that simply was not possible before we gained an electronic archive.

“We are now working together with other German Pension Fund organizations to roll out customized archive solutions based on the well-tested implementation blueprint developed with help from IBM. We are convinced that the transformations and optimizations will help these organizations to realize huge savings, making the German Pension Fund more efficient as a whole.”

Products and services used

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

Storage, Storage: N6210, System z, System z: Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL), System z: System z running Linux, System z: System z running Linux - SUSE, System z: System z running z/OS, System z: System z9

DB2 for z/OS, Tivoli Storage Manager, DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows, WebSphere Application Server, z/OS, Content Manager

Operating system:
Linux, Novell SUSE Linux, z/OS and OS/390

GBS BAO: Advanced Analytics and Optimization, GBS BAO: Enterprise Content Management, GBS Strategy and Change: Organization Change Strategy, IBM Global Business Services

Legal Information

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