State pension departments need automated systems that can handle regulatory intricacies while responding quickly to participant demands.
After years of commitment to their departments and agencies, many state employees look forward to retirement pension benefits. But as Patricia Bishop, director of the Virginia Retirement System, noted for Governing.com, “In the era of pension reform, structural changes and new plan designs have significantly increased complexity for administrators.”
In addition, participants are asking for more service options, including web services and mobile applications.
Until recently, states have relied on highly customized benefits management software to support pension transactions, but those applications are proving unwieldy in today’s fast-changing environment.
As a result, many state IT groups who need to improve responsiveness and keep costs low have turned to Progress Corticon business rules management system (BRMS). With Corticon, pension experts can define and deploy the complicated regulations associated with transactions such as eligibility calculations, status updates, payments tracking and more. And when plans change, they can quickly add new rules.
As states add more automation, a BRMS executes the business logic these applications rely on, such as determining whether an applicant is eligible for benefits based on years of employment, age, current income status and other data.
In most legacy applications, the business logic is hard-coded throughout the application. If a rule needs to be updated, IT has to comb through the code to find relevant sections. The process takes time and uses up budget.
A BRMS manages all the business logic in one place, so when pension regulations change, the modeler can easily locate all the relevant rules, make and test the updates in one place, and redeploy with a minimum of effort and cost.
A BRMS also speeds the development of new automation. New pension applications can access existing logic as needed, and rule designers can add new rules while ensuring they don’t conflict with other functions.
When business rules are spread out across applications, developers are likely to introduce mistakes during an update. If errors aren’t caught, different applications could execute different logic, causing confusion and even harm for pension participants.
With a BRMS keeping all the rules together, there’s no risk of forgetting to update parts of the code; changes propagate to all applications, ensuring consistency. And the pension administrators can determine if new rules comply with requirements before they’re deployed. The risk of mistakes and the cost of fixing them drops dramatically.
Corticon emphasizes features that promote best practices and ensure the highest benefits from a BRMS. It’s designed for flexibility, transparency and maintainability, which results in up to 90% less time and effort required to develop and maintain complex automation like pension transactions.
Strong communication between IT and pension experts is essential for fast, bug-free deployments. But it’s often a challenge for subject matter experts to clearly explain how the regulations should work. The disconnect often causes costly rework and frustrating delays.
Corticon’s no-coding, user-friendly development environment, Studio, puts rule modeling in the hands of pension analysts, who can implement exactly to their specifications and turn a complete ruleset over to IT for integration. With the rule modeling handled by those who understand the requirements best, development progresses faster with higher quality releases.
Coding mistakes found during testing or deployment phases can cost exponentially more to fix than those caught during requirements. And logical errors can be extremely difficult to identify when the rules are complex, even with meticulously detailed tables and flow charts.
The Progress product team understands this challenge and has created tools in Corticon Studio to uncover logical conflicts or gaps within the rules. These tools can capture problems early in requirements and development so pension experts can resolve them quickly without impacting the schedule or budget.
Technology that becomes harder to maintain over time loses its value quickly. Rules have to be transparent for new team members to understand and update even if the original rule designers are no longer available.
Corticon’s graphical interface helps developers create readable and well-organized logic. Studio makes it simple to comment large and small sections of the rules and enter a plain-language interpretation of each rule. Corticon users will never have to face the task of reverse engineering inscrutable code.
As states modernize, their IT architectures will move through different stages from systems reliant on legacy applications to containerized applications on the cloud. Corticon adds value at each point and continues to fit in as the ecosystem shifts around it.
To ensure proper handling of state pension eligibility and accounts, pension management groups undergo regular audits, which can require costly research and data preparation. Corticon simplifies the process with highly detailed logging that creates a historical record of each transaction and fast-tracks the audit process.
According to the Pension Rights Center, 77% of state and local government employees participate in a pension. As programs grow, pension support applications will need to handle increasing volume gracefully.
Corticon is designed to scale linearly while maintaining world-class performance, so it can handle spikes in transactions as easily as long-term growth trends. Some current deployments handle hundreds of thousands of transactions a day.
Twenty-eight states have chosen Corticon to streamline and modernize their rules management for tasks ranging from benefits eligibility to registration and licensing.
They chose Corticon for its ease-of-use and transparency, which helps them respond better to legislative changes and rising user expectations. In addition, its flexibility and scalability protects their investment going forward.
There’s nothing like firsthand experience to help you determine if Corticon is right for your state. If you’d like to test drive this powerful rules engine and see for yourself, download a trial version or request a demo today.
James Goodfellow is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Progress and focuses his efforts on the DataDirect suite of solutions. Through his tenure at companies like Progress and SAS, he has spent the bulk of his career launching successful marketing campaigns for data and analytics products. James blogs here and around the web on topics such as data connectivity, analytics, IoT, visualization and machine learning. You can follow him on twitter at @jcgoodfellow.
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