Case study: Genomics England

Case study: Genomics England

Taking Managed File Transfer (MFT) to another level to secure genome data for vital research

Genomics England needed to speed up their complex approval system, enabling researchers to carry out ground breaking medical research within strict security protocols. They knew automation via Managed File Transfer (MFT) could be the answer. With requirements well beyond the scope of standard MFT, they turned to Pro2col for help.

Background

Owned by the Department of Health, Genomics England was set up to deliver the 100,000 Genomes Project. This flagship initiative sequenced over 100,000 whole genomes from NHS patients with rare diseases and their families, as well as patients with qualifying cancers. The primary aim was to establish the use of whole genome sequencing in routine healthcare within the NHS. The resulting dataset enables new scientific discovery and insights, whilst kick-starting the UK genomics industry.

Genomics England holds genomic and clinical data in a tightly controlled research environment, which authorised analysts and researchers can access for their research. The data is anonymised, but there are still extremely tight consent models to ensure absolute security and integrity at all times.

A unique requirement

Genomics England previously used a manual File Transfer Protocol (FTP) process. The team would airlock incoming requests whilst they were checked and verified, then gather additional information via email from the end user. Once approved, they’d notify the infrastructure team to transfer the files into the designated environment.

“We needed to bring as much automation in as possible in order to reduce the wait time for the researchers and create more of a self-serve system,” states Genomics England’s Research Environment Project Manager, Andy Paynton. “However, this had to be measured against an absolute necessity for any process to remain secure and in complete compliance with our strict approval and airlock policies. It also needed to be totally auditable and allow us to maintain a record of everything being transferred in and out of the research environment.”

 

A partnership approach

Knowing that their project requirements were far from standard, it was important to find both a solution that was configurable to their needs and a provider who could work with them to carry out the necessary development.

Andy Paynton continues, “A number of the solution vendors named Pro2col as their preferred supplier. This obviously gave us confidence in them, reinforced by the fact that Pro2col demonstrated a real interest in what we were trying to achieve, rather than simply describing the solutions they could provide. They demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of the MFT market and of the alternatives available to us.”

Pro2col indicated an MFT solution most suited to Genomics England’s requirements, based on secure online form functionality. This was key to automating the authorisation process.

Solving complex issues

“We were confident Pro2col would be able to do the far-from-standard configuration we needed. They didn’t disappoint. Our unique challenges went well beyond the scope of a typical MFT project,” states Andy. “Pro2col weren’t phased at all, coming up with a workaround that involved designing eight different types of form to accommodate the multiple requests we deal with.”

Pro2col also developed integration between the MFT solution and Genomics England’s existing technology.

“We use LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) to verify user identities and ensure requestors have the appropriate levels of authorisation to proceed. To make things even more complex, we also have to factor in our staging environment. These complexities required some serious thinking through, but Pro2col were brilliant, acting as the conduit between us and the MFT vendor, investigating the different options available to us.” 

 

“Pro2col provide an excellent service, understanding Genomics England’s requirements and configuring the system. They provided innovative solutions to meet some of our less standard requirements, which extended the system beyond its usual configuration.”

Andy Paynton, Research Environment Project Manager, Genomics England

A successful outcome

“Aside from their impressive technical expertise, Pro2col listened and really understood what we were trying to do, going out of their way to come up with the right solution. They were very good at knowledge transfer too, so we have additional skills to do our own enhancements and changes in the future. It’s great credit to them as a supplier that they took the time to do that.”

Since the system went live, Genomics England has already seen substantial benefits across the business. The speed and efficiency of transfers has improved significantly and the time that researchers now have to wait has been reduced. Genomics England has also been able to free up valuable time within their airlock and infrastructure teams.

“We are extremely happy with how the project went. Our team’s purpose is to provide an environment where organisations can carry out ground-breaking research that can potentially change lives. The easier it is for them to do that, the better. Thanks to Pro2col we’re able to facilitate that whilst still maintaining the stringent levels of security required.”

Pro2col can advise you through the different stages of your file transfer and integration project to make sure it’s a success. Whether that’s scoping your requirements, product demos and proof of concept / evaluation, negotiating the best deal with vendors or installations and training, call 0333 123 1240 or complete the online contact form.

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MFT transforms mortgage application process

MFT transforms mortgage application process

 

This use case explains how a mortgage provider used Managed File Transfer (MFT) to simplify the review and acceptance of an application. MFT completely transformed this complex process, using automation, streamlined security and more user-friendly steps for the applicant and solicitors.

 

 

A lengthy and complex mortgage application process

Previously, after a fact-find with a mortgage adviser, the completed documents would be zipped up, password protected and emailed to the applicant. The applicant would need to call in to be told the password, then would print, sign and return the form, along with proof of ID, details of income and other documents.

The mortgage adviser would receive it and then send it on to the underwriter to be approved or declined.

Once the underwriter had approved the offer, they generated an offer document, which was stored on an internal system.

Another member of staff would need to download the offer from that system, create a zip file, password protect it and then email it to the applicant and their solicitor. Both would need to call the company to get the password to access the offer document.

 

Streamlining the process with MFT

Using MFT’s secure email functionality, secure online forms, automated workflows and secure folders, the IT team were able to completely transform this complex process.

  • After the initial fact find, the mortgage advisor now emails the documentation directly to the applicant easily and securely, using MFT’s secure email functionality.
  • The applicant e-signs the form.
  • The email contains a unique link to a secure online form on the company website, where they upload and submit their signed form and other documents (proof of ID, income etc).
  • These documents then enter an automated workflow to be scanned for viruses and then moved to the correct folder on the network.
  • The underwriter receives an email notification, so they can review the files and accept or decline the application.
  • Once manually approved, the workflow continues, generating an offer document and transferring it to a secure folder, which can be accessed by the applicant and their solicitor.

This process saves time, reduces the complex steps and is far more customer-friendly. The mortgage advisor spends less time on manual processing and has more time to add value to applicants. The underwriter can review more applications more quickly, enabling the business to become much more efficient.

If you would like to find out whether MFT is the right solution for your business, see our online guide to MFT. This includes links to a range of free downloadable resources.

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Secure online forms and automation

Secure online forms and automation

Businesses need information from their internal users, external customers and suppliers all the time and it is highly likely this will include personal or sensitive data.

It is definitely not appropriate to ask users to share this information over email, but we know that is still common practice for many organisations. Email is not secure, so you risk a breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), plus there is no guarantee of delivery. Email cannot support large files either.

Online forms provide a secure, customisable mechanism for your customers, suppliers and internal users to submit information to your business. It is a popular feature of Managed File Transfer systems and can capture any type of information or file size. Fields can also be configured to trigger onward business processes or integrate with internal systems.

To demonstrate the versatility and functionality of secure online forms with automation, let’s look at a use case from the motor insurance industry.

Use case: Motor insurance company

A customer is involved in a collision and needs to claim on their insurance. Using the secure online form, they enter the information required: Policy number, personal details, vehicle information, details of the collision and images of the damage.

Once the data has been received, a number of tasks need to happen to progress the claim.

This is where the technology really comes into its own. Automated actions sitting behind the secure online form, can execute many of these tasks and you can find out more in this video.

Examples of automated workflows

Once the user submits the form, it can trigger a range of automated workflows, such as:

  • Check the policy number meets alphanumeric sequence
  • Validate customer name against policy number
  • Assign claim to a claims handler
  • Automatically input the description directly into the customer database
  • Rename images to a pre-determined format, eg: policynumber_date
  • Move images to the image server
  • Send an automated reply via email or SMS or other business communication platform. The template can be personalised to include the name, assigned claims handler, policy number etc.

All of these processes can take place without any human intervention, demonstrating just how more efficient these labour-intensive tasks can become. You can see how this would suit other industries, such as mortgage brokers, doctors and private healthcare providers, or any outsourced business service, such as HR or payroll.

These are fairly simple use-cases, but there’s no end to the automation capabilities that can be applied. We recently customised secure online forms for a company sequencing hundreds of thousands of anonymised records of biological data. Customised logic built around metadata in mandatory fields in the form triggered the next step in the process.

Can you see how your organisation could benefit from adding secure online forms to your infrastructure? Get in touch for a chat now. Alternatively, complete our Managed File Transfer (MFT) comparison; answer a series of questions about this and other business requirements and our technical experts will recommend the best solution to suit your needs.

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The World Cup 2018: A file transfer use case

A file transfer use case: The World Cup 2018 has many ways MFT can be used

Are you missing the World Cup already? It’s been an exciting few weeks of football!

As the novelty of England’s best performance in years wears off, we turned our attention to the IT infrastructure that underpins a tournament of this scale. It’s actually a really good example of the many ways data is sent, received and processed, and the types of technology that enable this to be done quickly and securely.

This article looks behind the scenes at this file transfer use case, which translates across many different industries.

High definition broadcast

Firstly and most importantly is the high definition broadcast that sports fans have come to expect. Streaming the World Cup involves data sets measuring in tens of terabytes or even in petabytes, and it needs to be moved quickly with perfect quality maintained.

The broadcasters would use a fast file transfer solution combining UDP and TCP technology across high bandwidth networks.

Traditional UDP transfers move big datasets much more quickly than TCP, regardless of size, distance or network conditions. That’s because it continually sends data packets without waiting to see if they are received successfully. In this case, the usual UDP trade-offs (slight distortion, or frames freezing) are offset by the TCP protocol, which ensures any lost packets are resent. An agent at the receiving station reconstructs the data after the transfer.

The result? The viewer sees every kick, goal and penalty in real-time high definition.

 

Sharing sensitive documents securely

During the World Cup or other football tournaments, sensitive data is continually shared between managers, medics, FIFA and other parties. It might be personal information about players, which needs to comply with data protection legislation like the GDPR, or sensitive data critical to a team maintaining a competitive edge. Some examples include:

  • Player details are sent to their training camp with medical and dietary requirements;
  • Medics sharing injury information and treatment plans back to the player’s home club;
  • Referees sharing match reports with the officiating body;
  • In the run up to the tournament, scout reports are shared across the globe, providing valuable insights into the competition;
  • New contracts in the aftermath of a big tournament are uploaded to web portals.

A secure file sharing solution would typically have a set of features to protect the data from hackers and malware: Secure protocols (SFTP, FTPS or HTTPS); Encryption (PGP or AES); Access control with the ability to restrict user permissions; User authentication; Secure data wiping; Administrator view; Audits and reports to show what was transferred, when and how.

 

Of course, these examples aren’t exclusive to the World Cup. The chances are that you face similar challenges in your organisation. Maybe that’s live streaming events or simply sharing employee data.

There are many reasons why a business might decide to implement a file transfer solution. If this has got you thinking about your system, our free resource – Does your organisation require a file transfer solution? – will help.

Inside you’ll find a questionnaire to record your responses to some typical file transfer challenges. There’s information on how a system can resolve these, plus recommended next steps for your project.

Does your organisation need a file transfer solution?
Download our free resource now.

Interested in a file transfer solution?

Outsourcing finance operations: A Managed File Transfer use case

A file transfer use case: Outsourcing finance operations

Outsourcing finance

A major label in the music industry decided to outsource a particularly large area of its operations: Finance. Managing invoices and collating data for reports was a time-consuming process that could be better handled by a specialist company.

However, financial data often forms the basis for decisions across the entire business. If data ever becomes out of date or is not processed correctly, the consequences could be disastrous.

Without an effective electronic solution, the only way to move data was to send forms through the post and scan them—a time consuming, manual process.

The right Managed File Transfer solution will allow organisations to seamlessly move data out to external suppliers for processing, and back into the business.

With event-driven automation, the music label can automatically move financial files individually or in batches over a secure connection. The data is “pushed” to the supplier.

After processing, edited documents are then pushed back to the internal network for storage and archiving.

The entire process can be managed from a single, convenient interface and data movement can be audited every step of the way.

If you plan to outsource data processing, you need a solution that seamlessly connects external trading partners with your own unique infrastructure. This music label saved time and money by outsourcing this vital business process without compromising visibility or security at any stage.

 

 

 

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