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Protection System Conceptual Design

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This document is a fictional software design concept that demonstrates aspects of my skills as an enterprise architect (technical presales, project discovery, writing, eliciting requirements, and using these to documenting a solution concept).

      Table of Contents
  1. Introduction
  2. Project Vision
  3. Conceptual Design
  4. Scope
  5. Project Plan
Definitions and Acronyms
  • IFA - Independent Financial Advisor
  • Protection - insurance (eg. life; vehicle; household; medical; etc.)
  • Reinsurance - ceding part or all insurance liabilities to another insurer
  • Unterwriting - the process of guaranteeing payment in case of damage or financial loss, and accepting the financial risk for liability arising from that guarantee
  • Activation - the process of activating protection
  • 3rd party Administrator - liability insurance claims are typically handled by third-party claims administrators
  • Impaired market - customers with impaired health due pre-existing conditions or lifestyle choices

1. Introduction


This document represents the ideas and decisions developed during the envisioning phase. The goal of the phase, represented by the content of this document, is to achieve team and customer agreement on the desired solution and overall project direction.

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2. Project Vision


[Virtucon] runs a protection (insurance) comparison web site. It lets customers and financial advisers use a single process to obtain prices for, and activate protection policies from a range of protection providers. [Tyrell Corp.] provides insurers with an underwriting engine that allows insurers to retain their own underwriting rules and product differentiation in a sand-boxed, secure environment.

[Virtucon] believes it has a distinct advantage in serving the impared market specifically, and will therefore join [Tyrell Corp.]'s panel of providers to extend it's reach in this market.

[Virtucon] will create an automated pricing service that allows [Tyrell Corp.] customers to obtain prices for, and activate protection policies directly at the [Tyrell Corp.] web site.

[Tyrell Corp.] will call the the Pricing App to obtain prices and to activate business won by [Virtucon]. the Pricing App consists of two core processes – pricing and activation. The Pricing App will include supporting services, such as email, document generation and obtaining commission rates for independent fincial advisers.

[Core Business System] will share activated policies with [3rd party Administrator], and [Reinsurer].

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3. Conceptual Design

Protection system conceptual design


  • Customers – The general public, in both healthy and impaired markets, who require protection.
  • IFAs – Independent Financial Advisers are professionals who offer independent advice on financial matters to customers and recommend suitable financial products from the whole of the market.
  • Underwriters - Insurance underwriters evaluate the risk and exposures of potential customers. They decide how much coverage the customer should receive, how much they should pay for it, or whether even to accept the risk and insure them.
  • Administrators - the Pricing App administrators reconcile policies activated by [Virtucon] with activations that [Tyrell Corp.] has billed [Virtucon] for. Administrators may also enable and disable the Pricing App
  • Service Delivery – The service delivery team ensures that customers and IFAs have access to appropriate services to support the protection service’s business functions.


  • [Tyrell Corp.] – an organisation that operates a comparison web site that allows IFAs and customers obtain quotes and purchase protection from a range of insurers. Insurers retain their own underwriting rules and product differentiation, while those selling and buying their products can do so using one consistent process.
  • Underwriting Rules – Underwriters develop and maintain a [Virtucon] -specific underwriting rule-set on the comparison web site using non-linear flow charts. The rules engine provides integrated testing, and supports indicative ratings.
  • Web Service Endpoint – The web service provides an external interface that is called by the comparison web site. The web service also acts as a gatekeeper in that it can enable or disable access to the protection web service. When enabled, all requests from the comparison web site are routed through to the protection application. When disabled, requests are dropped and a “service unavailable” message is returned to the comparison web site. This allows [Virtucon] to gracefully handle both expected and unexpected maintenance windows and service outages.
  • [Application] – provides access the core functionality of the solution. It accepts both pricing and activation requests from the comparison web site. The service validates incoming requests; provides additional attributes required to obtain a price (such as IFA commission rates); obtains quotes; generates customer and service delivery documentation; and emails activation requests to the activation servicey.
  • Pricing service – calculates a price for protection based on qualifying customers' needs and condition.
  • Document Generation – When a policy is activated customers receive a confirmation schedule and if required, a request to authorise access to medical records. Required documentation is generated automatically for qualifying customers.
  • IFA Commission Lookup – A service that returns a commission rate for the specified Independent Financial Advisor.
  • Activation – activates protection for qualifying customers.
  • [3rd party Administrator] and [Re-insurer][Virtucon] employs a 3rd-party administrator (TPA) to administer claims and collection premiums. Newly-activated policies are passed to the TPA by [Core Business System], [Virtucon]'s new business system.
  • [Reinsurer][Virtucon] (the ceding company under the arrangement) purchases insurance from a reinsurer as a means of risk management. Under the terms of the reinsurance agreement [Reinsurer] is paid a premium by [Virtucon], and in turn pays a share or all of the claims incurred by [Virtucon]. Newly-activated policies are passed to the reinsurer by [Core Business System].

Data Model

Protection system data model
  • ActivationQuestions - Holds underwriting question history asked of a customer for policy activation.
  • Activations - Holds underwriting, pricing and supplemental data, and a complete history of changes, related to activation requests from [Tyrell Corp.].
  • Addresses - Holds physical and/or postal addresses for the vustomer, and the customer's doctor. Addresses are only recorded for customers that proceed to policy. Data is updated by IFAs via the Comparison Website.
  • Answers - The customer’s responses to underwriting questions asked during the underwriting session.
  • Contributions - Holds [Tyrell Corp.] contribution values.
  • Emails - Holds auto-generated emails sent to the IFA and to service delivery.
  • Quotes - Holds underwriting, pricing and supplemental data related to pricing requests from the underwriting engine. This data is retained for for auditing and performance reasons.
  • QuestionOptions - Holds answer items where a question has a defined set of answers.
  • Questions - Holds underwriting questions asked of a customer requesting a quote.

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4. Scope


Feature/Function List

  • A service proxy that enables or disables the functions listed below and, if enabled, passes all requests through to the Pricing App.
  • A service that accepts pricing requests from [Tyrell Corp.] and returns a binding or non-binding price.
  • A service that accepts activation requests from [Tyrell Corp.] and returns an outcome result and reference number.
  • A web site through which customers, IFAs and [Virtucon]’s service desk may access any documentation related to an activation.
  • A web site that reconciles policies activated by [Virtucon] against policy activations billed by [Tyrell Corp.].
  • A validation component that validates all incoming data.
  • A data access component that saves all data received or generated by the Pricing App to a database.
  • A function that looks up and returns IFA commission rates.
  • A reusable web service that sends email to customers, IFAs and [Virtucon]’s service desk.
  • A document generation function.
  • Security controls, including mutually-authenticated servers and encryption of data in transit and at rest.
  • Application firewall – use of a web application firewall is standard practice at [Virtucon], and will therefore also be used to protect the Pricing App.
  • An exception handling component.
  • An auditable logging component.

Process Flow

Protection system conceptual design

Data Flow

The diagram below informs the pricavy impact assessment, ensuring compliance with data protection legislation.

Protection system data flow

Quality Goals

  • Availability – the system will be available during office hours from Monday to Friday; the system will support a recovery time objective of 4 hours, and a recovery point objective of 0.
  • Efficiency – the Pricing App will process 99% of requests within 8 seconds; the system will also strive to use no more than 60% of available memory, processing power, network bandwidth, and disk storage capacity.
  • Integrity – the system handles and stores personally identifying information, and personal medical information, and will therefore encrypt all data both in transit and at rest; access to data will be limited through access control lists; systems will be monitored; and all system activity will be logged.
  • Reliability – 99% of operations will complete within the SLA-defined time period, and the system will operate for a minimum period of 10 hours without failure.
  • Robustness – the system will continue to function properly when given invalid inputs; with defects in connected software; or in unexpected operating conditions.
  • Reusability – the Pricing App will reuse and adapt the [Legacy System] codebase. While less efficient, more complex and costlier than a services-driven and component-based calculation engine, message queues and Excel instances on Windows clients from [Legacy System] will be used to reduce perceived risk.

Out of Scope

  • Underwriting rules – rules are created, maintained and tested independently by underwriters.

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5. Project Plan


Project Schedule

Development will begin in April 20nn, and is estimated to enter production by August 20nn.

Project Structure

Business Sponsors

•  Rachel Tyrell Managing Director


•  Minerva McGonagall    Governance
•  Bellatrix Lestrange    Data Protection Officer


•  Michael Wittenburg Enterprise Architect
•  Indiana Jones Infrastructure Architect

Project Managers

•  Edna Mode Project Manager
•  Katniss Everdeen Scrum Master

Business Analysts

•  Ellen Ripley Senior Business Analyst
•  Butch Cassidy Business Analyst
•  Dirty Harry Business Analyst


•  Hercule Poirot Head of Underwriting

Software Engineers

•  Holly Golightly Senior Software Engineer
•  Clark Kent Senior Software Engineer
•  Cruella de Vil Software engineer

Test Engineers

•  Scarlett O'Hara Test Manager
•  Sherlock Holmes Tester
•  Mikasa Ackerman Tester

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