The 2019 Inria Innovation and Research Support Prize : PARIn, recognition for a change in the digital architecture of the information system

Publish on 17/02/2020
PARIn (Plan d’Action du Référentiel Inria), Inria’s reference source action plan, was honoured at the 2019 edition of the Inria Awards. The aim of this plan is to carry out a profound overhaul of the institute’s information system. Its role will be to modernise the information system, in accordance with the commitments made in the 2019-2023 performance agreement.

A mass computerisation of processes began at Inria in the 1980s, as in the majority of public establishments and companies. Each sector employed specific applications which were not always as interoperable as they could have been, a phenomenon known as “technical debt”. In order to reduce this, this year Edmonde Duteurtre and Jean-Denis Séméria - head of information system urbanisation and head of the department overseeing information system urbanisation and information system projects respectively - launched PARIn, an action plan aimed at making Inria’s information system more scalable.

The overhaul of the HR information system presented an opportunity to create a shared reference source. Since then, applications used by different departments have been able to seek reliable, approved data from the information system. Centralising information in this manner does away with unnecessary interfaces between applications, replacing the old, outdated data flow network with highways and fast lanes.

The benefits are already clear

Owing to the way in which it establishes a common language for organisational structures, staff and geographic sites, PARIn helps to simplify the way in which project teams are managed, eliminating the need for personnel assignments or lines of credit to be entered multiple times while boosting the traceability and the reliability of information.

Awarding this 2019 Inria Research Support Prize is general management's way of highlighting the importance of having a shared reference source, which will lay the foundations for the modernisation of the information system. It is also recognition for a successful, intersecting collaboration between sectors and sites, with everyone grasping the fact that data produced in the information system is data belonging to the institute as a whole. In the future, the reference source will be extended to new areas, thus supporting Inria in its digital transformation. This is no mean feat, and cooperation will very much be the order of the day.

At the heart of the project: four testimonies

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© Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli

Mehdi Boutafa, Project Manager for information system interfaces, Applications Department

“The first months of the collaboration were very intense as the project was run using what was practically an agile methodology, meaning quick reframing was necessary.”
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© Inria / Photo F. Attigui

Dominique Salles, former Assistant Director of the Bordeaux - Sud-Ouest Research Centre and Catherine Pierre-Radenac, Assistant Director of the Rennes - Bretagne-Atlantique Research Centre

 “There are two chief administrative officers from centres representing the eight Inria centres in this project. Our role is to ensure that the inventory for centres in PARIn is an accurate reflection of reality. At the same time, we are also responsible for explaining the project to other chief administrative officers, keeping them informed of any progress made and contacting them with regard to contributions and inspections specific to their centre. The atmosphere we work in is one of trust, where everyone listens to each other and understands the relevant requirements and constraints.” 

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© Inria / Photo A. Schneider

Janet Bertot, Assistant Operational Coordinator for scientific actions

 “The process of moving different tools over to the PARIn system was staggered, meaning there was no dramatic shift where you had the old information system one day and everything in PARIn the next.  This approach was more flexible in that the tools were only implemented when they were ready. That doesn’t mean there weren't any hiccups along the way, especially when you consider that not all data users were aware that there was going to be a change... Fortunately, everyone put the work in to make sure that the necessary adjustments were made on time.”

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© Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli

Corinne Debachy, Head of the DAFP Budget and Management Control Department

“My role was to describe our current database process so as to be able to generate structure codes and budgetary destinations, to understand the challenges posed by the new tool and to answer questions from IT management in order to ensure that the design of the new reference source met our needs. Both myself and my team are proud to have played our part. This was a real collective effort, proving the importance of working together when it comes to achieving success.” 

What does this award mean to the winners?

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© Inria / Photo S. Azzaro

Caroline Laury, IT Engineer, Applications Department

“The work carried out by developers on projects normally goes unnoticed, and so I’m touched to have been given this honour. I view it as an expression of Inria’s recognition for all the hard work I put in day in, day out.” 

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© Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli

Jean-Denis Séméria, Head of Information Systems Urbanisation and support for information systems projects

 “This is not an end in itself, but rather encouragement for IT management and other sectors to keep working together. This prize is telling us: “Go for it!”  
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© Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli

Dalila El Manfalouti, DAFP Manager, Budget and Management Control Department

“This is recognition for teamwork between different Inria personnel, which I feel to have been a crucial part in the success of this project.”