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Situation

With a £93m turnover and working with clients such as HP, Krispy Kreme, a growing number of the FTSE 250 and some of the world's most exciting and ambitious growth businesses, Shoosmiths is one of the UK's fastest-growing national law firms.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is the executive agency responsible for the administration of the criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales and non-devolved tribunals in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and so confidential and sensitive information is electronically shared by and to them from law firms. HMCTS had implemented a new Secure Data Transfer (SDT) gateway to streamline the submission of money claims. As a result Shoosmiths were required to put in place integration between their two existing case management systems - Visualfiles & IDR - and the HMCTS SDT system.

The solution would need to accommodate both Shoosmiths’ operational processes together with the HMCTS implementation. To achieve this, changes were required within Shoosmiths’ internal systems, in parallel to Ballard Chalmers creating the SDT solution interface.

Solution

Shoosmiths chose to implement Microsoft BizTalk as an integration engine (which will later also be extended to support the firm’s Enterprise Service Bus). Due to the timescales outlined by HMCTS and ongoing commitments to other high profile projects, Shoosmiths needed assistance from a Microsoft Partner organisation that could rapidly get to grips with the firm’s requirements and could deliver a scalable solution in a very short timescale. They therefore enlisted the help of Ballard Chalmers.

The solution was based on BizTalk Server 2013 and the BizTalk ESB Toolkit. The ESB resides between the Line of Business (LOB) systems and the SDT system, and has the capability to act in real time or in batches with respect to both incoming and outgoing messages.

The HMCTS SDT is a real time Web Service based system. Shoosmiths have two internal LOB claims systems, one used by 80% of the users and one by 20%. Neither of these systems have built-in sophisticated integration capabilities therefore the methods of interchange are:

  • Incoming and outgoing communication handled by files being placed into a drop folder.
  • Incoming and outgoing calls made through staging tables in a SQL database.

Outcome

Andrew Souter, Business Systems Manager at Shoosmiths said of the project, “The integration with HMCTS is critical to our business. In the short timescales available, the easy option would have been to develop a specific point solution, adding yet more complexity to our systems landscape. Instead, the use of BizTalk provides us with flexibility to enhance the solution as the integration with HMCTS evolves, whilst being able to extend the use of this service to other parts of the business if required.”

He continued, “Ballard Chalmers did an excellent job of delivering exactly what we required, when we required it. I was impressed by how quickly they understood the legal process and were able to deliver a flexible, yet scalable solution that can keep pace as our business grows.”

Of the project Geoff Ballard, Chief Technical Officer at Ballard Chalmers said, “BizTalk is the world’s number one systems integration solution. It can be used to integrate systems based on any technology and from any vendor, and provides for resilience and scalability. It has proved to be a perfect solution for providing the integration layer between Shoosmiths and HMCTS.

About

Ballard Chalmers is one of the UK’s leading enterprise software engineering companies, specialising in development for the Microsoft Enterprise Application Platform. We are principally dedicated to software development and integration for the Microsoft Cloud, as well as on-premises and hybrid systems. Our expertise is in Microsoft .NET, SQL Server, BizTalk Server and SharePoint Server.

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