The use of open ICT standards is an IT requirement at Slovenia’s Supreme Court, responsible for IT support for the entire court system in the country. The Supreme Court’s IT department has a strong preference for the development of modular, reusable software solutions. This strategy provides agility and flexibility, says Bojan Muršec, director of IT.
The focus on open standards frees up the IT department to concentrate on the business, Muršec says. The IT department takes the modular approach seriously: the first reusable module ever developed by the court - a court document dispatch and delivery system - is re-used by all IT systems across the courts. “Making everything reusable prevents the creation of silos in the organisation”, the IT director says.
A positive side effect of the IT strategy is that the court uses mostly open source software solutions. This in turn helps to keep IT costs down, says the IT director, who estimates that the court saves EUR 400,000 to 500,000 per year on licence fees: “The cost of proprietary licences always goes up.”
Open source usually provides the best fit with the required open standards. It also allows the organisation to test the software as a reference implementation, without any restriction. This gives the project group and reference users a good idea of the software’s capabilities, which then helps them to define the user requirements of the final system. “This is how we introduced our business intelligence software, the dashboard for the Supreme Court President”, says Muršec.
Another example of open source use is office productivity: in the 66 courts across Slovenia, the 4400 employees use Apache OpenOffice. It is well-integrated in the courts' case management system, allowing automatic document generation by combining a template repository with case data. The courts also use the Mozilla Thunderbird mail client, and the Mozilla Firefox web browser.
The Supreme Court says that making its software publicly available shows that the organisation is taking its responsibility seriously. “We’re using public money”, says Rado Brezovar, senior advisor to the President of the Supreme Court. “Open source allows society to recover the costs, and it ensures the long-term viability of software solutions. Sure, you can buy proprietary software, but what if the funding dries up? It’s unsustainable.”