Last month eu-LISA, the EU Agency in charge of the operational management of the EU’s Large-scale IT Systems in the Area of freedom, security and justice (LISA), celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a major conference: a great occasion for Sopra Steria to look back on our long-standing relationship with this special customer.
As we’ve already discussed, eu-LISA currently operates three large-scale IT systems - Eurodac, SIS, VIS - and is working on the development of three others: EES, ETIAS and ECRIS-TCN. What is the main challenge for you and your colleagues involved in such projects?
Lisa Bodzenta, Manager at Sopra Steria Next: “Programme and project management represent a great challenge when working for eu-LISA’s systems. The existing as well as the upcoming interoperable systems demand a well-functioning team that is working on numerous projects and often in parallel, for instance when matching the biometric data in the sBMS with the future Entry/Exit System or when designing solutions to connect existing systems to the new interoperability components.
Along with that comes the challenge of aligning a range of different stakeholders, since there are many teams working behind each information system. Sound alignment is vital in order to ensure that everyone is working towards the same common interoperability goals and in accordance with the Schengen interoperability architecture that was defined.”
On a more personal note perhaps: what is it exactly that makes working with eu-LISA on these specific projects so highly interesting and rewarding?
Matthieu Jacquin, Global Account Manager: “The most interesting aspect of the work we do for eu-LISA, in my opinion, are the systems themselves. We are dealing with very complex and critical information systems that are absolutely essential for the security of Europe.
Not only are these systems technically complex, but the sheer number of stakeholders involved in developing and maintaining them adds quite a lot to the overall complexity of the programmes. And since they are ordered by the EU on behalf of the different Member States, all those Member States are also represented in the management of these systems. Consequently, as my colleague Lisa has already pointed out, managing the stakeholders becomes a challenge in and of itself and hence also the key to success.
The other thing that makes these projects stand out is the critical nature of many systems, particularly those that are used for border management purposes. To give just one indication of their high level of criticality: our service level agreement with eu-LISA as well as the Member States allows those Member States to reinstate their borders, if a certain system is out for more than four hours. So there are very strict and stringent SLAs that we have to adhere to. Which is only understandable if you consider the problems and chaos that could ensue if this kind of system breaks down: people would be stuck in airports, customs officers would have to reinstate manual checks, stamping travel documents in the old-fashioned way, and so on.”
Lisa Bodzenta: “The word that comes to mind here is ‘impact’, I guess. Our work really does have a profound impact on the security of the Schengen area. It effectively impacts people’s everyday lives when crossing Schengen borders. In the end, our work benefits all European citizens as we contribute actively to guaranteeing their freedom of movement in the Schengen area, while helping to shape the EU’s future. Having this in mind feels like a great reward for our daily work.”
What have you taken away from the actual Anniversary Conference that you attended?
Lisa Bodzenta: “Mainly that eu-LISA wants to continue to be recognised as a driver for innovation. As they stated themselves, with the ambition to be a key partner for EU Member States in the delivery of high-quality IT services, it is imperative that the Agency remains fully aware of all the advancement in technological domains that are relevant to their operations. Leveraging artificial intelligence, for example, or other innovative technologies for the EU’s large-scale IT systems is one of their key objectives for the years to come. It goes without saying that Sopra Steria wants to continue to support and assist eu-LISA in its efforts to remain the Digital Heart of Schengen for decades ahead. I am currently working with the Research & Development/Innovation department of eu-LISA to explore synergies and ideas to make use of new technologies and Sopra Steria’s innovation offering.”
Interested in a career at Sopra Steria, working for EU Institutions and other international organisations? Or rather for defence and national security organisations?
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