Oct 15, 2015
Waterbedrijf Groningen supplies drinking water, gray water and water technology in the Dutch province of Groningen. A healthy and sustainable organisation that for years has managed to charge the Netherlands’ lowest drinking water rates despite being one of the smaller water companies in the Netherlands. Smart operations and innovation form the basis for this. For instance, Devoteam was called in to develop an app that would enable substantial time savings for various groups of employees at the water company. Internal project leader Esther van Linge explains how the best ideas are sometimes born on the shop floor.

  • "It all started when one of our colleagues in ‘New construction production' decided that there had to be a more efficient way to do his work," Esther begins. “Keep in mind that as a water company, we regularly hire in contractors to build installations, for instance water pumps and water pipelines. After these installations are completed, our own people check whether the work has been performed properly. Items which are not yet in order are noted on what is called a ‘punch list’. In the old situation, this list was drawn up at the office by manually putting together site photos and notes. The photo was transferred from the camera or USB stick to the computer and the employee typed up the notes he had made in his notebook. There just had to be a faster way."

  • One app for five processes

    "It all started when one of our colleagues in ‘New construction production' decided that there had to be a more efficient way to do his work," Esther begins. “Keep in mind that as a water company, we regularly hire in contractors to build installations, for instance water pumps and water pipelines. After these installations are completed, our own people check whether the work has been performed properly. Items which are not yet in order are noted on what is called a ‘punch list’. In the old situation, this list was drawn up at the office by manually putting together site photos and notes. The photo was transferred from the camera or USB stick to the computer and the employee typed up the notes he had made in his notebook. There just had to be a faster way."

  • Sound plan of approach

    "Via procurement, we called for tenders based on an assessment list drawn up in advance with criteria and weighting points. Devoteam was the party ultimately selected. They had already helped us in the past with Mobile Device Management and their plan of approach looked sound. They made a dynamic start therefore. The company has good and committed professionals who are always a pleasure to work with. Just as in most other projects, we also faced some unexpected setbacks of course. The development of the app itself went very smoothly and the front-end already looked really good. But on the back-end, the secure connection via MobileIron was causing some issues. And there were also some impediments at Apple. None of which was Devoteam’s fault, since this lay beyond its control, but it did cause some delays. Devoteam did everything to keep up the pressure and that succeeded. We are now working on preparations for the internal roll-out."

  • Learning organisation

    "We consciously did not make a hard business case in advance. We knew for certain that this app would speed up and simplify the processes. Just as the quality of the data has improved. All expectations were realised. But we also wanted to deliberately gain experience with innovation. What, for example, are the advantages and disadvantages of custom apps versus apps you can just get from the App Store? How does the maintenance and management of these apps work? We will evaluate all of this later this year and are confident about the results. Aside from this, as a learning organisation you must also dare to continue to invest in innovation, this does not always have to be based on a business case of course. Devoteam gained a great deal of experience in this project as well. And this experience will, in turn, be useful in new projects. And then Devoteam will be on our short list again. They performed good work on this project. And look, every project has its share of unexpected setbacks. The point is to resolve these setbacks with good cooperation and to together achieve the best result. And Devoteam is an excellent partner for that."