Agence pour l'informatique financière de l'État, France
A carefully controlled deployment leads to successful transformation.
About the agency for state financial information technology (AIFE)
Based on Enterprise Resource Planning software, Chorus is the new financial information system used by the French government. After six biannual releases rolled out between mid 2008 and early 2011, the system is now in use in all public ministries.
The Agency for State Financial Information Technology (AIFE) is responsible for managing the Chorus information system. AIFE is a national agency that has been overseeing various projects aimed at modernising the French government's financial information systems since 2001.
The purpose of the Chorus system is to manage the ministries' spending, non-tax receipts and accounting, in conformance with the requirements of the Organic Law on Laws of Finance (LOLF, Loi Organique Relative aux Lois de Finances). This huge undertaking is the largest IT project currently being implemented in the public sector. Several partners CGI, Steria, Accenture, Capgemini, BearingPoint, SopraGroup, Axway and Bull) have been involved in the construction, integration and deployment of the Chorus information system. The project has been in maintenance mode since early 2011 and transfer of the State's accounts is scheduled for early 2012.
1st January 2012 is the deadline for the general accounting records of the State to be completely transitioned over to Chorus, which will then become the core application.
Although it will be a tremendous boost to modernisation, the Chorus system first has to hurdle a major challenge: be able to enhance the performance and transparency of public administration, while maintaining conformance with LOLF and keeping to a strict rollout schedule.
In its task of deploying Chorus in six ministries, we face a two-fold challenge:
- To successfully roll out the system, which will eventually be used by nearly 10,000 users across France
- To provide support during the transition to ensure the transformation is understood and accepted by all of the financial stakeholders in the State's central and decentralised administrations (managers, financial controllers, accountants, prefects, and so on).
Since 2009, we have successively managed the deployment, training and technical support for the Chorus system at:
- The Ministry of the Interior, Overseas and Territorial Communities
- The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
- The Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Sea
- The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs
- The Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-development
- Services of the Prime Minister
Our teams worked hard during the pre-rollout phase to organise the various ministry services in order to prepare them for the changes that would result from Chorus, help the departments customise the tool, recuperate data from legacy applications and keep future users informed. Then we developed and coordinated a training plan and conducted sessions at each of the ministries that were assigned to us by AIFE. In addition, we implemented a support strategy for the Chorus rollout and our 160 consultants provided technical field support to users in the central and regional administration offices.
The deployment of Chorus took place when, under the impetus of the General Review of Public Policies (RGPP), the administrations completely reorganised their finance function - specifically around shared service centres. There was a simultaneous release of the new information system and implementation of new structures and new business processes. This meant that a unique change in management strategy had to be developed, which proved to be the key factor in the success of the project as a whole.
Our teams conducted more than 1,600 training sessions in a 15-month period. Our expertise in certain subjects (for example, complex legal commitments and reporting) facilitated user acceptance of the Chorus system.