The Rectorat (education office) in Montpellier is responsible for qualifying the accounting and financial management system used by secondary schools and colleges, on behalf of the French Ministry of Education. The organization has turned to Bull for help to rapidly merge into a single, industrialized organization.
The Ministry of Education’s Information Technology and Systems Department (STSI) is the architect of its information systems policy, with responsibility for its application throughout the Ministry and its institutions. The Department delegates a number of nationwide projects to decentralized entities within its various local education authorities, and this is exactly what has happened in Montpellier, where the office carries out national projects to develop, qualify and support applications (that have themselves been developed by other education authorities), as well as operating various applications. Project management is provided by National Project Managers working directly for STSI.
In particular, the Montpellier office is currently responsible for qualifying the accounting and financial management system (known as GCF) destined to be used by 8,000 secondary schools and colleges across France. At the moment this application, which was developed by the team in Grenoble, is undergoing a fundamental overhaul to meet new legal accounting and budgeting requirements, which will take effect for schools during the 2013 budgeting cycle.
Quality and timescales: two key imperatives
Although the technology platform is being maintained for the time being, this update to the system involves radical functional changes, likely to disrupt end users’ established working practices. To help with the smooth adopting of the overhauled application, it has to offer faultless quality, avoid any backwards steps in terms of its functionality and minimize any anomalies.
In order to guarantee very high levels of quality in extremely tight timescales (no matter what happens, 2013 budgets have to respect the new laws), towards the end of 2011 the Montpellier office decided to further strengthen its resources, enabling it to rapidly take on board the technical, functional and methodological aspects of the tests it needs to run on GCF. Following a tendering process, it chose Bull for a contract renewable annually for three years and divided into clear units of work. “Bull brought us all the skills we were looking for, at a competitive cost, as well as an organization that had the strength and flexibility needed to support our evolving needs,” explains Régis Cazorla, head of national projects in the Academic Information Systems Division at the Montpellier education authority.
Bull: a trusted partner demonstrating day-to-day commitment
Bull’s local and highly accessible team soon demonstrated its skills when it came to the very specific functional requirements of GCF, as well as the approach that will be used for the testing campaign (especially the Open Source tool, Squash). To effectively combine quality and speed, the development cycle has made use of the CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) process improvement approach, and the testing regime, inspired by agile methodologies, is highly automated. The qualification teams from Montpellier, boosted by Bull’s input, play a key role in this process. Working closely with various stakeholders in the project (the program management office, development teams, etc), they have been involved from the point where the specifications were defined, in order to prepare the testing campaign (coverage, planning and iterations, user acceptance…). They will then be carrying out the tests as the GCF software is delivered and provide the interface between everyone involved (development, production, users…). Régis Cazorla welcomes Bull’s input: “Bull has slotted in perfectly to our team and proved at all times that they have the commitment and responsiveness of a true partner.”
Bolstered by this success and the relationship of trust that has been built up with the national projects office, Bull has been winning new units of work that have been put out to tender, including one related to the roll-out of GCF. To enable institutions to put together their 2013 budgets within the new legal framework, the implementation of an initial functional tranche of the software is scheduled for Autumn 2012 onwards.