Retiring legacy applications with TRIM

Retirement may be an ending, but it can also offer the promise of a new beginning. This was certainly the hope held out by Tasmania’s Retirement Benefits Fund when it chose to retire a set of legacy applications and host all the data instead in its TRIM EDRMS.

The 100 strong organisation has managed superannuation for Tasmanian Public Sector employees since 1904 and currently manages over $A4.8 billion in investments

Following the retirement of multiple legacy in-house applications it has now moved to a single outsourced application to manage the administration of the fund, while migrating the legacy records from these applications into TRIM, which also enables RBF to manage the retention and disposal of records.

Damien Hill, Senior Systems Consultant with the Retirement Benefits Fund, said, “We now have one single application with a familiar interface and search methods. 

"Users didn’t have to be experts in the legacy applications to find data. All historical member records are in the one place and TRIM is firmly embedded in the organisation.”

There were many good reasons for wanting to retire the legacy applications, which were no longer supported and with a level of customisation that would have required significant effort to upgrade.

The main fund administration system, RBFSAS, would have required a spend of over $A400,000 to update its infrastructure and database. Updating other enterprise applications to more modern web based programs was also going to require a significant investment.

RBF also had a desire to upgrade and consolidate its server environments and databases. Following outsourcing of member administration services in 2011, most of the member administration functions were no longer being done in-house and the outsource provider had more up to date and scalable systems to handle the ongoing changes to meet the needs of managing superannuation in the current and future environment.

“We had a mixed environment that was becoming difficult and costly to maintain”, said Hill.

Australian solution provider Kapish had come on board with the RBF in 2010 to update the organisation’s TRIM EDRMS and implement integration with a SharePoint intranet. So with plans to outsource its legacy application to an outsource provider, RBF turned to Kapish for a solution to integrate its application archives within TRIM.

“This project was a great opportunity for Kapish to work closely with RBF to design a solution that leveraged the existing investment in TRIM.  It’s clear to see from the success of this project that TRIM is a real solution for legacy data management, including application end-of-life solutions.  This project showcased how such a simple design can be so intuitive for users, and provides the business with ongoing value and direct access to this information, while meeting regulatory and compliance obligations”, said Jon-Paul Williams, Director of Kapish.

Although the legacy applications were no longer required for operational purposes, the information contained within them was required as the new outsourced administrator planned to only take around two years of historical information.

RBF also had some obligations to be able to respond to the administrator when questions arose relating to past transactions, and also to meet legal, record-keeping and fiduciary requirements.

The migration challenge was immense: over 170,000 individual member files to capture equating to more than 500GB of data in nine million unique rows. It also included more than 600,000 PDFs.

Prior to the start of the project, Kapish migrated RBF to TRIM v7.2 and it has since moved on to v7.3. The project to transition data across to the new outsourced provider and decommission the legacy applications took 12 months to complete.

To ensure the process adhered to the necessary record-keeping requirements, the RBF liaised with the Tasmanian state government Archives Office to gain their endorsement, with due consideration given to the publication: Tasmania Recordkeeping Advice No 18 – Recordkeeping Requirements within Business Information Systems

It was decided the best approach would be to tie all of the information together by member number, a unique identifier that was used across all of the applications.

“We also thought that once you found the parent container it would be good to then be able to browse through all of the information relating to that member,” said Hill.

“We also wanted to be able to identify the source of the data so we created record types, one for each application, and imported the data into a folder structure for each member.”

A new standalone TRIM dataset was created that contained just the imported member data, and this was made read-only and access restricted.

The migration process required careful attention to ensure that data did not change.

“The most difficult and time consuming part of the project was extracting the data. From each of the systems, we had to get assistance from vendors and we leveraged internal resources to extract the data and prepare it for Kapish to import,” said Hill.

“There were some technical issues with this earlier on in the project but the Kapish guys really did take control of the situation and provide a solution that would ensure the data could be imported in the timeframe we agreed upon”.

“Once we handed the data over to Kapish, they were able to develop scripts and do the necessary magic to import the data into a SQL database, then import these records to TRIM into the desired structure”.

The entire migration took around 12 months, after which a QA process was undertaken to check that information from each application had been correctly migrated.

“All applications and servers for these legacy applications have now been decommissioned and TRIM is where we can now find all of this data,” said Hill

“RBF originally requested that the proposal include the development of a custom-based Web front end to help users with searching, but once the staff used TRIM they found it easy to navigate and use the imported structure designed by Kapish, and we decided not to proceed with this part of the project.”

“Training was minimal as users were already familiar with TRIM.  Users only have to know how to search on member number using Record Number search and how to switch between datasets, as most users were already aware of how to search. In some cases, the training only lasted 15 minutes to show them how to switch over to the dataset, search by member number and explain the record types.

“We also created a two page “cheat sheet” that had everything they needed to get going. Our users love the fact they don’t have to switch between multiple systems or remember different passwords!”

The preview capability of TRIM has also saved RBF users a lot of time viewing multi-page PDFs and TIFFs, as this was not as easy to do using the old applications, as users could only open and close the files to view.

Many times it was necessary to print from legacy systems because it was difficult to view the files. 

“Since the TRIM viewer is so easy to use, we have experienced a significant reduction in our printing which has assisted with our overall Paper Reduction Strategy.

“Also, we did not have any sort of retention capability in the previous systems. We did not have a retention schedule ready at the time of migration, but have since had this approved by the Tasmanian Archives Office.

“Now that all of the data is in TRIM, we plan to apply our new schedule to these records and obviously using TRIM is going to make this process a whole lot easier.”

RBF is currently working through a disposal program focusing on applying retention to exited member files. A lot of the data in some of the legacy applications was scanned and still exists in hard copy.  The new TRIM database is providing the capability to manage and destroy these hard copy records.

The success of this project has been so well received by RBF and its staff, that we are now considering TRIM as the primary system to use for future Legacy Application and End-of-Life data migrations, to provide added business value by continuing to access this information and manage the long-term retention and disposal of business records.


RBF Legacy Applications 

RBFSAS (in-house superannuation administration system – dating from 1994 and the largest and most complex system used to manage all of the superannuation and member related data.

CHRIS – an older and customised version of the now named CHRIS21 payroll system which was used to manage and pay pensions to retired members.

AWD (member workflow system) – this was the application used to manage all correspondence and contact with members and assisted RBF to manage workflow internally.

Historical Member Statements (web based system).