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Now is the time to modernize child support systems

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The majority of today’s child support systems are outdated, first-generation systems that are over 25 years old. These systems require modernization to meet the evolving needs of children and families in the 21st century. With more than 20% of families and children relying on these systems, the impact is significant. Today’s users want to engage with services using modern, user-friendly technologies, platforms, and devices. Families also expect interactive experiences that are tailored to their specific needs. The existing systems were not designed to provide a family-centric approach to service delivery and lack the necessary capabilities and features. Thankfully, most states are already in the planning stages of modernizing these systems.

To meet the new requirements and expectations of state-provided child support services, these systems must:

– Empower families to seek help when, where, and how they need it, including through virtual and real-time communication methods.
– Provide quick and transparent services to alleviate family stress and frustration during times of need.
– Be intuitive and user-friendly to reduce inefficiencies and manual effort for both families and caseworkers.
– Automate routine tasks to allow caseworkers to provide more personalized services and build relationships with families.
– Empower caseworkers with online tools to collaborate with colleagues and access knowledge repositories.

While there are challenges in modernizing child support systems, it is possible to facilitate technical application migrations while maintaining consistency in business functions through a proven approach to mainframe application modernization. IBM helps governments deliver public services efficiently, quickly, and impactfully.

State-level challenges and requirements:
In addition to the changing technology landscape, states are driven to pursue modernization due to several other factors, including:

– Envisioning a holistic, family-focused model for service delivery that is personalized, customized, and collaborative.
– Spending more time engaging and collaborating with families by freeing caseworkers from inefficient system interfaces and processes.
– Utilizing the capabilities of modern technology stacks rather than relying on outdated and limited applications.
– Upgrading systems to leverage widely available and competitively priced technology skillsets.

Each state’s child support system is unique, but they share core system requirements such as initiating new cases, providing location and establishment services, enforcing orders, and handling financial transactions mandated by the Office of Child Support Services. However, every child support organization has distinct needs and requires a customized modernization approach that supports its vision, addresses specific system challenges, and understands the reality of its situation.

The core systems technology landscape for each state may consist of an existing mainframe system with varying levels of maturity, portability, reliability, and scalability. Existing investments in modernizing ancillary supportive technologies could eliminate the need for certain system requirements as part of the child support system modernization initiative. Therefore, a holistic modernization effort is necessary, considering factors such as state budget, timing, and staffing.

Accelerated Incremental Mainframe Modernization (AIMM):
Existing applications are often complex and costly to maintain, hindering business agility and making rebuilding, refactoring, or integrating the system risky. IBM Consulting has developed an approach called Accelerated Incremental Mainframe Modernization (AIMM) to address these challenges in an automated manner. AIMM focuses on incremental application transformation instead of code translation. It adopts an incremental, business-data-domain-centric approach that delivers immediate value while enabling ongoing optimization.

AIMM takes an end-to-end approach to mainframe modernization, emphasizing coexistence between existing and new systems. It starts by mapping business and technology processes alongside IT ecosystems. Instead of a single, risky update, AIMM enables incremental migration to a new digital core system, eventually replacing existing systems entirely with minimal disruption to users.

IBM’s industry-leading methodology, tools, and assets support the AIMM approach. The IBM Garage Methodology brings together best practices, technical expertise, client collaboration, and cloud service providers to deliver accelerated outcomes. The IBM Consulting Cloud Accelerator accelerates cloud adoption by creating migration plans. The Asset Analysis Renovation Catalyst automatically extracts business rules from code. Operational Decision Manager enables automated responses based on business rules.

Hybrid cloud architectures for balanced transformation:
Technology decisions should consider cost, capability, and sustainability to achieve successful outcomes. Cloud computing offers many benefits, including cost savings, scalability, security, accessibility, and advanced data and AI capabilities. A hybrid cloud architecture allows agencies to prioritize transformation of problematic applications while still leveraging their mainframe investments.

Technical patterns for cloud migration:
IBM recommends several technical patterns for cloud migration:

– Migration to cloud with middleware emulator: Minimal code alterations are needed, and middleware emulators ensure smooth functionality.
– Migration to cloud with code refactoring: Besides migration, necessary code modifications are made for optimal performance and alignment with cloud architectures.
– Re-architect and modernize with microservices: Systems are re-architected using microservices-based information delivery channels for efficient communication.
– Cloud data migration for analytics and insights: Existing data is transferred to the cloud, enabling advanced data analytics and insights.

By utilizing these patterns, states can modernize their existing systems and realize the benefits of the modern cloud platform. Overall, IBM Consulting applies technology and manages the modernization process to help states achieve their business goals efficiently.

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