IBM probably never dreamed that its Rational platform for governing software development and delivery would be used to write legislation, but that is exactly what Stefan Zutt is using it for at the European Railway Agency (ERA).
This 120-employee agency, which includes an IT staff of just 10, is tasked with deregulating European railways and developing continent-wide technical specifications for railroad interoperability and operational safety. “Currently, a high-speed train traveling through Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France has to interoperate with seven different signaling systems,” says Zutt. The ERA’s mission is to consolidate not only signaling, but an array of other diverse specifications, into a single continent-wide system.
To do this, the ERA has help from thousands of engineers and other experts across Europe and around the world. To succeed in harnessing this large global team, the ERA needs a powerful collaboration and quality management platform.
“We didn’t have the budget to custom develop a huge quality management system,” says Zutt. Instead, Zutt’s IT department worked with three different IT consulting firms to build a collaboration infrastructure based on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007. Then they plugged in IBM Rational software to wrangle railway standards, technology, and change management. “It’s a creative misuse of the software to build regulations with the same level of care as software,” says Zutt. “We use both the requirements management and change management tools to build legislation with lots of spec requirements.”
Rational allowed lots of metadata to be added to the various legislative sentences and paragraphs, and it let ERA build links among dependencies. IBM’s Rational ClearQuest change management tools allow widely dispersed teams to make small changes to the same legislation and indicate when a change conflicts with other legislative requirements. “It keeps track of each change, when it came in, when the status of a change request has changed, and when an approval happened,” says Zutt.
Zutt has a lot of experience working with groups with conflicting interests. His previous post was with the United Nations as the IT manager for the budding postwar government of Kosovo.