Generali Switzerland

Digitizing operational core processes to increase efficiency and save costs


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Digitizing operational core processes to increase efficiency and save costs

The Background

Generali is one of the world’s largest insurance companies, operating in 50 countries to serve around 57 million customers with an extensive line of products in the Life, Property and Casualty segments. Generali Switzerland, the Swiss arm of this global insurance leader, employs 1,800 staff, operating from 56 locations within Switzerland, to serve around 1 million customers.

IT operations are run on-premise on a custom-built platform known internally as the Connection Platform (CoPa). This streaming data platform is built on Kafka, connecting the back-end and front-end channels. It runs in Docker containers, orchestrated with OpenShift. Most microservices in the CoPa are Spring Boot applications written in Java, so the entire platform is scalable and agile.

The Challenge

To ensure continued compliance with international laws and legislation, Generali Switzerland wanted to enhance its ability to audit processes and keep detailed, searchable historical records in a user-friendly format. To achieve this, it needed to find a way of automatically deploying software artifacts to the production environment of the CoPa, only when specific conditions had been met. Generali Switzerland’s engineering team, led by Christian Nicoll, Director of Platform Engineering and Operation, was challenged to configure a solution
to “formalize, execute, make transparent, auditable and repeatable,” processes within certain parameters on the CoPa acceptance and production environments.

The solution had to allow central control over which user deploys which software artifacts, and when. In addition, it needed to ensure all processes met compliance standards. Alongside, there were additional constraints:

  • BPMN processes had to run on the CoPa, meaning processes would both deploy and run on the platform.
  • The solution had to reuse the existing software infrastructure and patterns. On the CoPa, this meant each deployment process had to live in its own microservice and run in its own embedded Apache Tomcat container.
  • The solution needed to have a central task list, allowing users to see all tasks allocated to them, no matter which deployment process they belonged to.

Camunda was the ideal fit for the project, enabling Generali to deploy microservices and applications to the CoPa acceptance and production environments. Because Camunda comes with a Spring Boot starter, it integrated easily into the CoPa microservice structure. Plus, the Camunda is equipped with a task list tool for managing work by human operators straight out-of-the-box, cutting down engineering time to design and build a custom task list.

The Implementation

With no prior knowledge of BPMN or Camunda, the team had to implement and deploy workflow processes. With an experienced Java developer in the team, Generali had an advantage with Camunda’s Java-based software. Using Camunda’s consulting service, which is available to all Enterprise users, plus online video tutorials, the team not only learned BPMN, but also deployed Camunda on the CoPA and was able to troubleshoot challenges in microservices integration. In just six months Camunda was used productively.

Mr. Nicoll said: “I think generally the integration of Camunda into our Connection Platform was straightforward. However, there was one exception in the way we deployed Camunda. Our approach of deploying into various microservices came with some limitations about how we designed our processes to mitigate asynchronicity issues.”

As a developer-friendly platform, Camunda is designed to be as flexible as possible for seamless integration within broader infrastructures. Generali didn’t have to look far for a solution to mitigate asynchronicity issues – all the mechanisms were available in Camunda and no custom-work had to be engineered, expediting implementation and speeding time to deployment.

The Impact

In less than six months a straightforward use case for Camunda has revolutionized Business Process Automation at Generali Switzerland. Today, there is full oversight of the newly created tasks in Camunda and a fully auditable history, which streamlines compliance in a heavily regulated industry, enabling Generali to remain agile and competitive in a tough playing field. And it was all implemented by one talented team with no experience in BPMN.

With the Camunda Engine working seamlessly, the next step for Generali is to continue optimizing the user experience for Camunda processes within the CoPa.

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