Agility is a term that is rarely associated with government agencies. However, the Central Office for Packaging Register Foundation (ZSVR) proves that innovation is also possible in public spaces. The team around CIO Wolfram Nötzel developed a platform based on microservices within 18 months in order to map the processes required by law transparently and without media disruptions. With this project, the ZSVR applied for the Digital Leader Award 2020.
The foundation was established in July 2017 and has the task of monitoring whether the packaging law, which has been in force since January 2019, is being observed. It checks whether packaging is consistently disposed of and recycled by private households. It also checks the manufacturers’ recycling quotas. Furthermore, it should make competition in waste disposal transparent and ensure that the costs are distributed fairly in the market.
The LUCID packaging register makes all of this possible. Manufacturers and distributors of packaging have to register themselves and pay fees, depending on how recyclable their products are. The more sustainable the material, the lower the cost. In order to check whether the parties are meeting their obligations, the data can be viewed by the public.
A private cloud developed in-house, in which 35 microservices run, serves as the technical substructure of LUCID. Other components are also connected to the architecture, including an electronic file system and a solution for qualified electronic signatures (QES). The container cluster is spanned over two data centers so that optimal utilization and reliability are ensured. If a service or container fails, another or a new instance of the service is automatically used.
In order to further develop LUCID, IT uses a DevSecOps process that is set up and managed in an agile manner using Scrum methods. Based on a continuous integration and continuous delivery approach (CI / CD), the solution is to be expanded into an always online service.
If information is received in LUCID, it is automatically processed, compared and written to an e-file via several data clusters, including a Hadoop data lake. In this way it can be determined whether the packaging manufacturers are billing everything correctly.
There are no longer any paper-based processes in the foundation. Incoming e-mails are automatically converted into tickets and distributed to employees. All processes can be traced and documented in a dashboard. 45 employees process the reporting data of more than 180,000 companies and 2,700 reports from auditors.
When implementing the project, Nötzel attached great importance to “user centricity”. Right from the start, he involved the departments in the development and turned IT-savvy employees from the departments into product owners. The workforce is trained on an ongoing basis and the knowledge is stored in Atlassian Confluence as application documentation. Every user can access the latest descriptions including workarounds. This also reduces the number of support tickets. In addition, the ZSVR set up an internal call center that answers users’ questions regarding content and technical issues.
New roles and priorities were assigned to the teams to enable an agile way of working. To this end, the CIO developed organization-related guidelines for release management, IT security management and IT portfolio management in the company. All departments now work in an agile manner and use Jira boards to plan tasks. Jira is a project management software from Atlassian.
In the change process, the CIO sees himself as a moderator and mentor for the employees. For him, a lived error culture and constant learning are just as much a part of the transformation as enough time to internalize the values and principles of agile work models.