2 page Case Study
Posted: 8/17/2010
Rate This Evidence:

State of Hesse German State Government Increases Productivity 66 Percent with Unified Interface

To do their jobs, State of Hesse employees used 400 line-of-business applications, resulting in error-prone and time-consuming workflows. To integrate applications and streamline processes, the state is deploying the Office Business Gateway solution, developed by Microsoft Registered Partner Combionic. Employees can run processes in a third of the time by using any Microsoft Office application to manage data spanning all systems.

Business Needs
The State of Hesse, one of 16 states in Germany, employs 90,000 workers and supports an infrastructure of 1,800 servers and 60,000 computers. Employees used more than 400 applications with different user interfaces and no standard mechanism for exchanging common data between standard applications and customized software, and data had to be entered multiple times. This lack of interoperability stalled work processes.

The Ministry of the Interior—one of nine state ministries—manages the Sunday labor application process. In Germany, work is banned on Sundays and holidays. However, state authorities may grant exemptions to employers, who can submit requests to engage Sunday laborers. To process such requests, the ministry has required that 11 separate steps be performed by seven different employees. The relevant data was in multiple file formats and had to be entered repeatedly, a time-consuming process.

“Hesse has been using a heterogeneous infrastructure that caused quality and compliance issues,” says Dr. Uwe Gruener, Product Manager at the Ministry of the Interior for the State of Hesse. “Processes were labor-intensive and repetitive. Because of integration gaps between different applications, there were unnecessary delays and lost revenues. In addition, nobody had true visibility into the processes.”

About 35 percent of public administration workers will reach mandatory retirement age during the next decade, and the state anticipates a shortfall of qualified workers. Also, the state must comply with recent European Union–issued mandates to enable cross-border services and unify data infrastructure. Under pressure to reduce costs and expand services, the state needed to increase the productivity of administra-tive offices, accelerate work processes, and reduce the burden of bureaucracy.

Working with Combionic, a Microsoft Registered Partner, the state learned about Office Business Gateway (OBG), a means for governments to automate operations. The state chose an OBG strategy that integrates Microsoft technology with the line-of-business products that it already owns, creating one overall system with a single communication infrastructure. The solution exchanges information between programs in a timely and accurate way by using Open XML Formats.

* Office Business Gateway is a powerful and sustainable solution that enables the State of Hesse to save time, trim the budget, improve information quality, and serve citizens better. *

Dr. Uwe Gruener
Product Manager, Ministry of the Interior, State of Hesse

The state turned to the Fraunhofer Institute to develop an OBG proof-of-concept and to redesign the workflow for the Sunday labor application process. The Ministry of the Interior deployed the proof-of-concept by standardizing its work environment with the Windows XP operating system and Microsoft Office Professional 2007. (A migration to Windows 7 is planned.) The OBG solution enables role-based access to required information from within almost any Microsoft Office application.

“The OBG solution improves Microsoft Office functionality with a document-driven gateway that integrates with any type of application,” says Dr. Karl-Heinz Sternemann, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technical Officer at Combionic. “It results in a fast and transparent workflow.”

An employee who reads an email message in the Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 messaging and collaboration client can view the OBG task pane for relevant information—for example, invoice numbers—in the form of an XML annotation. There’s no need to open another program or re-enter data, and the employee can use the information to create documents, submit approvals, or access correspondence. The state uses Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009 as a service broker that transfers information to and from line-of-business applications.

“The Office Business Gateway solution combines our business tools in a very intelligent way,” says Dr. Marcus Unverzagt, IT Architect at the Ministry of the Interior for the State of Hesse. “The only interface employees need is a Microsoft Office application.”

The Ministry of the Interior will deploy the solution on its computer fleet at a steady pace. The State of Hesse will implement OBG in all state ministries within two to five years.

The OBG solution acts as a bridge between employees and processes. “Office Business Gateway is a powerful and sustainable solution that enables the State of Hesse to save time, trim the budget, improve information quality, and serve citizens better,” says Gruener. “We’re implementing structural changes in the way government operates.”

Reduced Costs, Increased Productivity
Because they can access relevant data directly from a Microsoft Office interface, employees can make better decisions and complete processes faster. The Fraunhofer Institute study proved that the state could reduce working time by more than 66 percent by using cost-effective OBG practices. The Sunday labor application process that once took up to six days now can be executed in one day.

Enhanced Data Quality and Compliance
The OBG solution facilitates higher-quality information by avoiding multiple entries, thus decreasing the potential for error, and data is verified automatically. State of Hesse employees can work collaboratively and transparently, and get easy access to records, sites, applications, and documents across government agencies.

Improved Citizen Services
Productivity improvements in government processes result in better customer service as workers are freed to focus on core services. Citizens also benefit because the government budget is optimized and funding can be redistributed to social programs. The OBG solution also contributes to environmental stewardship by reducing waste. Plus, the state can easily train employees on standardized and familiar tools.

For more information about other Microsoft customer successes, please visit:

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 90000 employees

Organization Profile

Situated in the west-central part of Germany, the State of Hesse has a population of 6.1 million. Its capital is Wiesbaden and the largest city is Frankfurt am Main, Germany’s financial capital.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Office Professional 2007
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007
  • Microsoft Biztalk Server 2009 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Open XML Formats

Vertical Industries
State and Regional Government Agencies


Business Need
  • Cost Containment
  • Data Management
  • Business Productivity

IT Issue