Category: General
Author: Gerben Moerland

How Oliver IT surprised DNWG with their approach

DNWG has been a valued client of Oliver IT since 2015. The project that Oliver IT has carried out here clearly shows how changes in the IT industry are incorporated into the customer's business processes. We speak with Paul Hoekman, manager ICT-ASP at DNWG, about the important role of IT within their organization and how Oliver IT has made a valuable contribution.

Thinking from the overall process

DNWG takes care of the entire underground infrastructure of gas, water, network and electricity, mainly in the province of Zeeland. They do this from design and engineering to construction, management and maintenance of those infrastructures. Paul Hoekman has fulfilled the role of manager ICT-ASP within DNWG since 2012.

"I deal with the business administration side of IT, with topics such as vision, architecture and security. My starting point is our business philosophy, how can we make the company agile and what does that mean for the design of IT? I am always busy with change," says Paul. "I find it important to make people in the organization aware that they are part of the big picture. With IT we can help employees to oversee the overall processes and show what their own valuable contribution is in that chain. It is important to simplify work processes and make them user-friendly. Only then can we get more value out of our people. The MOTO2 project, which we started in 2015, is the perfect example of this. We have developed a user-friendly mobile application for our mechanics. Where we went from manual actions to fully digital. The work processes for handling malfunctions were optimized. And we started retrieving relevant data from the work field. This is only possible if you tune such an application to the user. And Oliver IT supported us in this perfectly".

The introduction to Oliver IT

"That's a very special story," Paul goes straight to the point. "I met Oliver IT during the SAP VSNG days. There they presented an IT solution that we were looking for. We invited Oliver IT to our office. In the first conversation with Gerben and Wim, I was quite sceptical. Oliver IT was a small party at the time and I wondered how they and a few employees would realize this project. During the conversation this completely turned to 'I want to know more about this'. These were men with inspiration. That was the basis of our follow-up discussions and ultimately the assignment".

The focus on usability and data in practice

Paul explains: "Our technicians in the field were still working with SAP screens that were not user-friendly in practice. They saw a lot of irrelevant information and were asked to fill in free fields. This was a time-consuming and annoying process for the mechanics. We wanted to be able to collect and secure our data optimally so that it was stored in the business process, without burdening our mechanics with unnecessary administration. With the new app, our mechanics only get to see questions, information and fields that are relevant to them. As a result, our technicians have become an essential source of data from the field in addition to technicians".

From waterfall to agile.

Paul: "With this project we introduced the agile working method within DNWG. With a small team, we worked in sprints of 14 days to deliver manageable pieces of software and functionalities. That was a pioneering phase within DNWG. We came out of the waterfall method and gradually had to learn to embrace this new way of working. The management set the guidelines, but then had to take a step back to let the team determine the scope. In addition, it was very pleasant that Oliver IT people at DNWG were working internally. That ensured optimal alignment and involvement".

"We had to take quite a few bumps in this process. There have been tough discussions between DNWG and Oliver IT about the correct implementation of agile. What characterizes Oliver IT in this, and what I really appreciate about it, is that they believe in what they can do and are tenacious about it. In spite of complex structures in our organization, they managed to persevere by listening carefully to what we needed. On their advice, we took small steps to implement agile in phases," Paul explains.

The power of looking over the fence

Paul: "At that time, IT in our organization was segregated. Everyone had their own specialization and their own solutions. What Oliver IT brought us here is to look over the IT fence. Where the process is leading and not the systems you work with. They saw how you can make an app work across multiple systems and use it to retrieve relevant data. This is only possible if you work in a process-oriented way and look, think and talk at all the systems and data involved. Making data available was central to them. They showed this in their vision and then implemented it in practice".

We asked Paul what he wishes Oliver IT in the context of its 10th anniversary.

"The vision that Oliver IT had when we met, which convinced me to work with them, is really a strength. Hold this. Stick to the basics and keep your spirit. Regardless of what you're going to do, make sure it always flows through the organization from top to bottom. Believe in your product with your entire organization. Then it doesn't matter what you sell or do," concludes Paul.

After looking back also look forward

We ask Paul to give us his vision on the next 10 years in the IT industry.

Paul says: "I am convinced that IT will soon be a permanent part of every organization. You can no longer be that as a separate discipline or knowledge area. IT runs right through the organization, through every department. There is no longer a process without IT. In addition, you will see that IT becomes the enabler of data. So the processes that will be developed will increasingly serve to retrieve and obtain data. That in turn opens the door to every form of automation, knowledge and insight".

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Karst Koopman Consultant
Karst Koopman