February 3, 2020

Canadian Federal Benefits Systems on the Verge of Collapse



Broadcast yesterday: All Canada’s national media and the Huffingtonpost ran the news story: “Federal Computer Systems At Risk Of Collapsing”. A failure of decades to manage a culture of change has landed on the desk of the very Canadian Prime Minister whose image is polished with overtones of “innovation refresh”.

If Canada is more liable to scrutiny because of this dramatic irony, it is certainly not alone. But nobody likes to have their dirty laundry aired in public. Yet, the bigger story should be: ‘How Will They Fix IT?’


"Some systems are pushing 60 years old and built on '

outdated technology' that can no longer be maintained."


Old style management would huddle, reshuffle priorities and budgets, then publish a big number budget assign it to a ‘Consulting Firm of Repute’ and pronounce an unmeetable deadline. This hushes raised voices of criticism to a manageable murmur. The final result of the modernization initiative would not be publicized, unless it goes massively over the budget, timeline and/or fails to deliver, and even then, only if there is an upcoming election.

New style management would engage in methodologies that are cost-effective, rapid and transformative: Agile Transformation, applying micro-services in a Mesh architecture to support gradual, phased transformation, steadily reducing the burden on the aging infrastructure. It is a methodology that involves a host of innovative resources, validated step-by-step, to ensure the complete, desired result.

In either case, the Elephant in the Room is: ‘What do we do with all that data?”

Microservices ideally attach to a data repository that is accessible, reliable and not a ‘disaster-waiting-to-happen’. Big-scale application modernization is complicated the scale of the data migration, which almost always exceeds the budget by 25–100% , according to a Gartner Research Note (Dec 2019, ID G00448218).


Fast, effective risk-mitigation

The Federal Government of Canada could significantly reduce its risk exposure in short order if it chose to implement a DataNovata application solution. Reduction of stress on the legacy system is a basic step in the risk mitigation process. DataNovata maps data entirely from the source database schema to automatically generate a read-only reference that support the application logic, through a standard, HMTL5 web-enabled browser.

Federal Public Servants would view their data history in a read-only, digital application replica of the original system making it virtually transparent that the data has moved to a modern, secure digital platform. DataNovata can also condition the data mapping for the entire application modernization process, as DataNovata applications are easy to customize and prototype with user collaboration. As an accessible archive, DataNovata also supports ILM, privacy and compliance, carving out its ROI as a long-term solution for data governance.

DataNovata is not the end of this problem but it is perhaps the easiest beginning of the end of the problem. It brings the solution into a more manageable scope.

As I write this blog from the comfort of my Toronto office, I am wondering how to get this message to the top of the command chain in the governance of my country of birth.

DataNovata Regional Office Location Contact Information

England (Head Office)

Barlow House, 4 Minshull Street,
Manchester, M1 3DZ, UK

North America

31 Disera Drive, Suite 250
Vaughan Ontario
L4J 0A7


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