UniSuper is a super fund dedicated to people working in Australia’s higher education and re search sector. With more than 412,000 members and $49 billion in net funds under management (as at February 2016), UniSuper is one of Australia’s largest super funds.
The organisation works hard to manage the retirement savings of its members and has been recognised through a number of industry accolades for the quality of UniSuper’s products and leadership team.
Shaping a Member Engagement Strategy
Always striving to deliver greater retirement outcomes for members, UniSuper embarked on a digital transformation programme, to increase internal productivity and improve the overall experience of its members.
A number of new enhancements were identified as part of UniSuper’s member engagement strategy and the UniSuper website was relaunched in November 2015 to widespread industry, member and employer acclaim. The member engagement strategy was developed to accommodate the members’ preference for transacting online along with an increase in traditional browser and mobile traffic.
When planning the redevelopment of our website to deliver an extensive range of new information to members, we wanted to simultaneously integrate key services and future proof the platform. Mexia came on board to assist us with the latter component.
UniSuper engaged Mexia to assist in building an integration solution that would enable the organisation’s member engagement strategy of empowering employers and members with rich self-service capabilities through the web.
These capabilities would be underpinned by a catalogue of web services that integrated with UniSuper’s core backend systems, to give members and employers access to information about their accounts in order to make more informed decisions about their superannuation and pension products.
Mr Dargani described the goals for the transformation. “Previously, our members had limited functionality and a static view of their account, with information such as superannuation contribution unavailable in real-time. In order to enable efficient self-service capabilities for our clients, the website had to integrate with a large amount of associated systems and services.”
This was not a simple task; as most of the existing processes were paper based, the systems were siloed and did not communicate with each other.
Mexia, selected as the integration experts, joined the UniSuper’s TechConnect project team to build a reusable catalogue of services. Working towards stringent deadlines, the precise delivery of each service was critical to the success of the programme, with simultaneous projects depending on the integration components.
The first phase of the TechConnect project involved building 48 reusable service operations to enable the website to access data from various systems, many of these services required complex integrations to core backend systems.
Architecture and Process Improvements
The Mexia team began with an integration design review, providing suggestions to improve the performance of the integration platform and deliver the services more quickly while maintaining quality.
The existing integration architecture was simplified, with a number of new patterns developed to improve time to deliver, quality and performance of the integrations.
Improvements were also made by streamlining the build and deploy processes. Mr Chowdhury explains further, “Many of the packages had too many dependencies, which made deployment a tedious and time consuming process. This was improved by building a fully automated deployment script, which has significantly reduced the deployment time.”
As with all Mexia projects, the team’s aim was not only to deliver a solution, but to ensure the UniSuper team was upskilled and able to support the platform once the interface is live. This involved regular knowledge sharing sessions and workshops, with new processes and frameworks implemented for the UniSuper developers to follow.
Delivering on the Project
The entire integration solution was broken down into smaller units of work, or service operations. The TechConnect project followed an Agile approach, with a number of service operations committed to each 3-week iteration, concluding with a showcase to business stakeholders.
the new integration patterns revised by Mexia played a big part in delivering the project on schedule. Our sprint velocity increased significantly.
The project had several dependencies on services that were to be provided by internal and third party providers. It was absolutely critical for these services to be available to UniSuper during the development phase so the interfaces could be built and tested end-to-end. However, this was not always possible as the service providers were at different stages of completion.
Mr Chowdhury described how the team tackled this issue “In order to overcome these dependencies, we built mock services, with their behaviour similar to the actual provider services. This enabled the development and testing teams to simulate the interfacing service. Once the interfacing service was ready, it was just a matter of changing the end points and running regression tests to confirm that the solution worked as expected.”
The Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) paradigm was selected as the Development and Testing model. Even before a single line of code was written, the developer and tester worked together to document the intended behaviour of each service operation in the form of positive and negative scenarios. This ensured the developer knew exactly the behaviours and scenarios the tester would be testing for, and the two could share the same test data or files between the unit tests and system tests. As a result of using the BDD approach, there were zero defects encountered in the TechConnect services during the UAT cycle and subsequent cycles.
As a result of the TechConnect project, UniSuper members now have a range of self-service options across any device, including the ability to update contact details, switch products, or select different investment options. In addition, the business has realised the following benefits:
- Increased productivity and cost savings - Through simplified integration patterns, automated build processes, implementation of new frameworks and the reusable design of services.
- Increased member engagement - The new platform is driving member engagement and digital adoption, with an increase in the number of users transacting online.
- Upskilling the UniSuper team - Mexia has passed on their knowledge and experience to enable the team to continue to support the platform independently.
- Sustainability - Via a large reduction in paper use and the associated printing and mailing costs through the introduction of online forms.
- • Improved data quality - By moving to digital application forms, the member experience has improved and compliance is easier to manage.
In addition to improving customer experience, we’ve made significant cost savings. The biggest benefit for us is the fact we now have a solid platform for future growth, making it easy to add new channels to consume additional services.