We create clarity and shape the future of business-critical software systems.

Case Study

Swiss Travel Fund - Reka

Software on IBM i is not only indestructible, but also future-proof!

With its IBM i software assessment, PKS had the right instrument for checking and ensuring that our extensive IBM i core applications would remain sustainable into the next strategy period. What’s more, PKS has the resources and skills to support us as a development partner on the way into the future.

The Company

The Swiss Travel Fund (Reka) Cooperative is a strong, modern company with a not-for-profit social tourism remit. It aims to enable as many families as possible to spend holidays and leisure time in Switzerland. With its two business areas, Reka Money and Reka Holidays, it offers a product mix that is unique in Switzerland.

The “Reka Check” and its cashless application, the “Reka Card”, are the most popular benefits in companies in Switzerland. This is unique worldwide. In the Reka Holidays business area, Reka is indisputably THE family holiday provider in Switzerland, and at the same time the country’s second largest provider of holiday homes. As a non-profit organisation, Reka keeps the price of its financial and holiday services down, passing on profits to customers in full. The company model is based on a close partnership with companies and associations, as well as on a high level of networking within Swiss business.

A look back

For the central business areas (Money and Holidays), the company has used RPG applications for over 25 years. These were originally part of the MOVEX standard, but over the years they have been individually tailored to meet Reka requirements. As central ERP systems, Reka Money and Reka Holidays contribute to the smooth working of Reka's business operations, while also being embedded in a complex landscape of surrounding systems in Java and .NET, which cover areas such as the online portal, CRM systems, production systems and much more.

For many years the RPG systems have been maintained by the software company Examine, an experienced player in the MOVEX environment and responsible for all Reka-specific customising.

Reka’s agile business development means that considerable adjustments to the ERP systems are to be expected into the future, and at the same time the Examine team will soon face a generational transition. This meant that in 2016, company and IT heads found themselves faced with urgent questions:

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How sustainable

and maintenance-friendly are the IBM i-based core systems?

Is it possible to

transfer the knowledge of individual systems held at Examine to additional software analysts and programmers?

How can

further low-risk and innovative development of Reka Money look in organisational and technical terms?
PKS’s expert team very quickly made me feel confident that I can look forward to my retirement with no worries. The software solutions that have grown at Reka over the last 30 years, always using the most up-to-date tools, methods and programme commands, required a great degree of flexibility and willingness to learn on the part of the PKS team. But both project leads and programmers very quickly felt at home with the various demands of the applications, and were soon able to implement the first enhancements independently.

A closer look

Reka decided to take these questions to PKS and ask them to perform a software assessment. This consisted of the following elements:

Virtual clean-up of the applications in order to eliminate dead code or functions that were no longer being used

Trend check and code screening of the applications:

  • Technical condition of the sources (maintainability) and potential
  • Options for using new technology (sustainability)
  • Options for transferring support and further development of the application to an additional external partner
Assessment of the developer team and development processes
Creation of an implementation roadmap for modernisation and future application management

The goal was to come up with recommendations that would enable Reka to continue being successful in the market with stable, low-maintenance and innovative core systems.

The assessment concluded that the Money and Holidays applications are in a good to very good condition overall, and can continue to be used as a valid basis for the future. Thanks to the good basic structure of the software, it was confirmed that it is possible to integrate additional developer resources. In the “user interfaces” area it was determined that switching to an ergonomic and modern web interface would increase user satisfaction in young employees, as well as improving efficiency.

Thanks to the expert and cooperative collaboration during the assessment, the Reka leadership decided to work with PKS as a partner for the short-term implementation of the recommended modernisation measures, and in the long term for application management.

As part of a knowledge transfer phase over several months, using the code analysis tool eXplain, a development team of three employees was put together at PKS. Today, the PKS developers are fully integrated into the collaboration with the technical departments at Reka, also working seamlessly with Reka’s other software providers. After just a few weeks, PKS took charge of implementing code changes, and within a few months it also took on responsibility for the technical specification directly with the technical area.

In the end Reka had an integrated operating and development concept that safeguards continued use of the proven RPG core systems, eliminates the developer bottleneck and enables shorter implementation times, thereby guaranteeing aspects of investment and future security that in business terms are extremely valuable.

A closer look

Reka decided to take these questions to PKS and ask them to perform a software assessment. This consisted of the following elements:

Virtual clean-up of the applications in order to eliminate dead code or functions that were no longer being used

Trend check and code screening of the applications:

  • Technical condition of the sources (maintainability) and potential
  • Options for using new technology (sustainability)
  • Options for transferring support and further development of the application to an additional external partner
Assessment of the developer team and development processes
Creation of an implementation roadmap for modernisation and future application management

The goal was to come up with recommendations that would enable Reka to continue being successful in the market with stable, low-maintenance and innovative core systems.

 

The assessment concluded that the Money and Holidays applications are in a good to very good condition overall, and can continue to be used as a valid basis for the future. Thanks to the good basic structure of the software, it was confirmed that it is possible to integrate additional developer resources. In the “user interfaces” area it was determined that switching to an ergonomic and modern web interface would increase user satisfaction in young employees, as well as improving efficiency.

Thanks to the expert and cooperative collaboration during the assessment, the Reka leadership decided to work with PKS as a partner for the short-term implementation of the recommended modernisation measures, and in the long term for application management.

As part of a knowledge transfer phase over several months, using the code analysis tool eXplain, a development team of three employees was put together at PKS. Today, the PKS developers are fully integrated into the collaboration with the technical departments at Reka, also working seamlessly with Reka’s other software providers. After just a few weeks, PKS took charge of implementing code changes, and within a few months it also took on responsibility for the technical specification directly with the technical area.

In the end Reka had an integrated operating and development concept that safeguards continued use of the proven RPG core systems, eliminates the developer bottleneck and enables shorter implementation times, thereby guaranteeing aspects of investment and future security that in business terms are extremely valuable.

Conclusion

Through working with PKS, Reka has succeeded in setting up a developer team that is fit for the future, as well as breaking up the knowledge monopoly. Within a few months, drawing on expertise from numerous software projects, PKS was able to establish clarity and certainty for Reka regarding the future operation of its RPG core systems. PKS provided support with the evaluation of technical fields of action and in the introduction of development tools (eXplain). Particularly valuable were the flexibility and range of knowledge of the PKS developers, as well as a good feel for the human factor during the knowledge transfer from the existing core team to PKS.

Thanks to the outstandingly cooperative and purposeful collaboration between the participating teams from Reka, Examine and PKS, the PKS team quickly became familiar with Reka business processes. It was remarkable that all the teams wanted to learn from each other - in that way they were very quickly able to establish a development process that today enables cooperation with maximum efficiency across the various locations.

Conclusion

Through working with PKS, Reka has succeeded in setting up a developer team that is fit for the future, as well as breaking up the knowledge monopoly. Within a few months, drawing on expertise from numerous software projects, PKS was able to establish clarity and certainty for Reka regarding the future operation of its RPG core systems. PKS provided support with the evaluation of technical fields of action and in the introduction of development tools (eXplain). Particularly valuable were the flexibility and range of knowledge of the PKS developers, as well as a good feel for the human factor during the knowledge transfer from the existing core team to PKS.
Thanks to the outstandingly cooperative and purposeful collaboration between the participating teams from Reka, Examine and PKS, the PKS team quickly became familiar with Reka business processes.
It was remarkable that all the teams wanted to learn from each other - in that way they were very quickly able to establish a development process that today enables cooperation with maximum efficiency across the various locations.

A look ahead

Thanks to the increase in developer capacity and the seamless integration of PKS into Reka’s development, deployment and operating cycle, the company will be able to implement technical requirements faster and more flexibly in the future.
In the next step the user interface will now be modernised, which will also support the generational transition in Reka’s technical departments.

A look ahead

Thanks to the increase in developer capacity and the seamless integration of PKS into Reka’s development, deployment and operating cycle, the company will be able to implement technical requirements faster and more flexibly in the future.
In the next step the user interface will now be modernised, which will also support the generational transition in Reka’s technical departments.

The benefits at a glance

Elimination of knowledge monopolies and resolution of the generation problem in the developer team
Safeguarding previous investment in individual software by providing a sustainable and flexible development and operating concept
Access to knowledge of solutions and software architectures that are in touch with the latest trends while meeting Reka requirements for sustainability and efficiency

Tools and procedures

  • IBM i Software Assessment
  • Creation of a roadmap
  • eXplain
  • RDi
  • RPG, CL, Java
  • Software Days

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