BACKGROUND: Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) is a ministry within the Canadian federal government that administers employment insurance and income security programs, as well as human resources programs linked to the requirements of the national economy and labor market. HRDC delivers programs and services through a network of offices and kiosks in hundreds of communities across Canada.

PLATFORMS: NT and Compaq servers.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The reason for initiating the project was to provide information to end users within HRDC through a single, managed point of access and distribution. The Canadian federal government considers it a strategic requirement to provide government information to HRDC employees and citizens of Canada. Providing assistance to each citizen seeking employment, training or benefits is a fundamental government social service. Furthermore, the initiative has driven some decentralization of the information, budget and power from the federal government to the provinces.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: SeeChain Portal from VIT met all of the ministry's requirements: integrated, end-to-end meta data and middleware that is Web-based with absolute security and privacy management. With SeeChain Portal, users can view the information available, then drill down for more detail. In the past, reports that were generated to meet individual requests can now be made available and easily accessed by everyone. HRDC built a data warehousing practice that will amalgamate two existing data marts as the core of an enterprise warehouse. Its architectural design team decided on a "fully managed" warehouse architecture. The warehouse stores terabytes of data about employment, training and benefits programs with a long-term (18 month) target population of 23,000 employees as information consumers ­ service delivery partners and the Canadian public will be added at later stages.

STRENGTHS: The solution demonstrates the leading edge in intelligent enterprise information portals ­ it provides a single point of access for all types of information, combining an open architecture and an extensive meta data strategy for both structured and unstructured data. SeeChain Portal assumes the information environment is chaotic, containing numerous new and old types of information and renders the information accessible with limited training. Main strengths of the product include: rapid data access and minimal user training; robust scalability and information security, ensuring the privacy of Canadian citizens; minimal software administration burden to be supported by a very small set of resources; flexible architecture to support new information source types and new applications over time; cost-effective software and support, based on a Web- centric business model/cost-efficiency model; and the ability to track ­ down to the end-user level ­ which information is used by employees at what frequency. SeeChain Portal tracks activity from the original source to the desktop and between the end users themselves. This allows HRDC to position its resources to the true information demands of the Ministry. HRDC projects that the most fundamental ROI from this project is that now all employees will be able to leverage information sources with the SeeChain Portal strategy.

WEAKNESSES: The publishing facility of SeeChain Portal should provide crawlers that automatically scan/index the contents of predetermined sources for new business information. Automated meta data crawlers will be available in the second half of 1999.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The other options HRDC examined were not technically, financially or managerially feasible. The synchronization capability of SeeChain Portal alone prevented other solutions from being realistic without a tremendous investment in IT resources (hardware, software, people).

DELIVERABLES: All access to the data warehouse servers is controlled through SeeChain Portal's centrally administered, Web-based application that allows users to use their preferred means of accessing and delivering information. SeeChain Portal provides users with order and delivery data, meta data, and order and delivery Cognos Powerplay cubes. It also allows the order and display of static HTML pages.

VENDOR SUPPORT: SeeChain Portal integrates very nicely with the existing tools. VIT's support is excellent.

DOCUMENTATION: Product documentation is comprehensive and easy to understand.

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