The Challenge: Improve member services
GIE- Union Groupe Initiatives Mutuelles is a major health insurance consortium for French civil servants. It is comprised of eight individual mutual benefit organizations: Mutuelle Civile de la Défense, Mutuelle des Agents des Impôts, Mutuelle Des Douanes, Mutuelle du Trésor, Mutuelle Générale de l’Economie, des Finances et de l’Industrie. Each of these organizations provides health insurance to a specific French ministry. Together these eight mutual benefit organizations have over 800 000 members.
One of GIE-UGIM’s major ongoing challenges is to continuously improve the services it provides to its members. Improved service increases retention rates and thus improves the financial position of the consortium as a whole.
In 2010, GIE-UGIM implemented Silligent CRM as the central customer relationship management system for the group. “We wanted to provide better services to our members by implementing a CRM solution. However, the real challenge would be to integrate our new CRM system with both existing applications that are core to our business as well as new applications we planned to build” said Maamoun Bernichi, Director of Studies for GIE-UGIM. “Our primary challenge came from the fact that each of our applications uses a different data format and protocol. Trying to integrate each independently would have taken us years and been nearly impossible to maintain.”
The Solution: CRM integration with Mule ESB
To solve the challenge of integrating the multitude of applications core to GIE-UGIM’s business with the new CRM system, GIE-UGIM decided an Enterprise Service Bus was the ideal architecture for their needs. “We wanted to loosely couple applications with the new CRM system and allow our developers to focus on developing applications that provided value to our members, not protocol and data issues. Adopting an ESB allowed us to provide better services faster,” said Bernichi.
After deciding an ESB was the right architecture, GIE-UGIM began an evaluation of alternatives products to meet this need. “We looked pretty broadly in the market but eventually cut our short list down to Oracle and Mule ESB,” said Bernichi. “As we went deeper into the evaluation we realized the cost and complexity of the Oracle SOA suite was far too much for our organization. Compared to Oracle, Mule ESB was less expensive to implement and delivered a faster return on investment.”
GIE-UNIM also appreciated the openness and ease of development of Mule ESB. “We prefer open solutions to closed, proprietary ones. They are much easier for our developers to use and entail considerably less vendor lock-in,” said Bernichi. “Mule ESB is 100% Java based and was quite easy for our developers to understand. We didn’t want to spend a huge amount of time and money to train our developers on unfamiliar technologies. We preferred to give them tools they were already comfortable with. In the end that not only makes them happier, it saved us money.”
GIE-UGIM’s business is very document heavy. Information comes through a variety of communications destined for members. Some of these documents are received via traditional paper mail, some by email and GIE-UNIM personnel manually enter some into systems directly. Ultimately all documents need to be stored, managed, associated with the member and made accessible to the member.
To effectively manage these documents, GIE-UGIM has several applications that need to communicate with its new Silligent CRM system. Each communicates using its own native protocols and formats with Mule as the integration layer to the CRM system. The primary application is a legacy client-server application that has been core to the management of their business for years. However, there are also several other applications used to manage and even compose documents.
“Our client-server application uses XML files for communication via Mule. A second application is based on business documents transmitted via Web Services. Another composes documents, also via WebServices. Other documents are retrieved solely via an http request. A final application uses flat files to exchange data. Mule supports each of these protocols and translates each to a format understandable by the CRM system,” said Bernichi.
While the simplicity and ease of development of Mule was one of the main draws, GIE-UNIM also wanted to make sure they had peace of mind and access to guidance and best practices throughout the deployment. “This was a very critical project for GIE-UNIM. We definitely wanted to make sure we had support throughout the process. MuleSoft was a great partner throughout the process. When we needed them, they were always there,” said Bernichi.
“With Mule, we have been able to reduce our costs, improve our member services, and build a framework for our future applications. However, we also anticipate needing additional applications in future years. As we build applications in the future, Mule will further simplify the development process. We are very happy with the results we have seen,” said Bernichi.