In recent years, local authorities have come under growing pressure to offer digital services to citizens, and to streamline back-office processes to free up time and resources for core services.
Erna Kraus-Schreieck, Head of the HR Solutions at AKDB, begins: “Many of our customers want to digitize and automate processes that are still predominately paper-based. In HR, customers are keen to introduce electronic personnel files to reduce administration costs. We provide them with the required software solutions and know-how.”
“Essential for all HR departments is a smooth-running payroll system, which we offer as a complete solution, processing salary payments for 420,000 people every month. But with constantly changing salaries, tax rates, national insurance tariffs, and pension contributions, we regularly need to make adjustments and updates to the software.”
To ensure it could implement changes rapidly as and when required, AKDB wanted to modernize its payroll processing.
Erna Kraus-Schreieck comments: “We rely heavily on COBOL for the business logic, running on mainframes. To respond faster to customer requests and streamline our development workflows, we wanted to move the payroll processing to a more modern platform, and take advantage of the latest development tools and programming languages.”
After evaluating different approaches, AKDB decided to migrate its COBOL applications from the mainframe to Microsoft Windows using Micro Focus Enterprise Server® for .NET.
Erna Kraus-Schreieck recalls: “With over 950,000 lines of code, rewriting the logic from scratch in a big-bang project was never really an option. Micro Focus Enterprise Server for .NET offered a low-risk way of migrating our most critical business logic to a new platform, one step at a time.”
Working with Micro Focus and partner PKS Software GmbH, AKDB moved its mainframe applications to virtualized Microsoft Windows servers. PKS Software managed the complex data migration from a legacy ADABAS/Natural database to a state-of-the-art Microsoft SQL Server solution.
“With Micro Focus Enterprise Server for .NET, it was easy to rehost the mainframe application on Microsoft Windows and take advantage of all the tools and flexibility of the modern .NET platform,” says Erna Kraus-Schreieck. “Crucially, we could continue to run our core COBOL business logic, which kept disruption to a minimum. During the rehosting, we discovered all kinds of ‘hidden’ features that had been added over the last 40 years, which was very useful to know for the next stage of the project.”
AKDB then replaced its existing COBOL development environment with Micro Focus Enterprise Developer for Visual Studio. Being able to seamlessly integrate COBOL code with new C# code, for example for file and mail transfer and accounting services, both running on the .NET platform, the Micro Focus solution allows AKDB to reuse proven business logic with the latest, most popular tools, including Microsoft Visual Studio, ensuring it can efficiently adapt the payroll processing software.
Erna Kraus-Schreieck notes: “Support from both Micro Focus Consulting and PKS Software was excellent. The two partners worked well together to ensure our modernization project was a success.”
Thanks to the Micro Focus solutions, AKDB was able to move its HR processing to the Windows platform quickly and safely.
Erna Kraus-Schreieck states: “Our COBOL logic had been expanded over many years and we could not afford to lose that built-in knowledge. Micro Focus Enterprise Server for .NET provided us with a very stable, future-proof platform we knew we could trust.”
By migrating away from the mainframe and equipping its employees with the latest development tools, AKDB can update applications faster than before with a more agile, iterative approach. This ensures that it can meet ever-changing customer requirements with ease, boosting productivity.
Erna Kraus-Schreieck says: “By integrating our COBOL code with new C# code, we can lay the foundation for our next generation of applications while protecting critical HR processes and all of the years of expertise they embody.”
She concludes: “As our customers increasingly embrace digital workflows, our modernized applications will enable us to continue to deliver cutting-edge, high-quality services, keeping municipal administrations and companies running smoothly, for the benefit of all citizens.”