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Sdu Publishers is one of the top 3 publishers of professional information in the Netherlands and has an extensive range of publishing products and services. The most important customer groups of Sdu Uitgevers are professionals working for the government, in the legal and fiscal world, business services and in the construction sector. They make daily intensive use of the multimedia information sources of Sdu Uitgevers. Well-known publications are the Cobouw, Automatisering Gids and the Staatscourant, NBD-Online and the Architect. Sdu Publishers is located in The Hague and has over 650 employees.
Sdu Publishers

With 47.000 unique visitors every month, NBD-Online.nl (Dutch Building Documentation) within Sdu is an important platform for construction and installation engineering. Visitors will find industry-specific product and supplier information, but also news, backgrounds, trade events and knowledge tools. NBD-Online originated from the loose-leaf editions, but now completely digital. The professional editors ensure that all information is easily accessible and available on the internet, so companies like to advertise or subscribe to NBD-Online. Such an extensive tool requires careful management. This is what Steven Braam, Business Project Manager at Sdu Uitgevers explains.

Management by a real support department

When the original administrator of NBD-Online stopped managing the application at the end of 2010, Steven Braam had to look for a new partner immediately. “A number of requirements were set. NBD-Online was built on PHP, MySQL and Java script. That remained unchanged. Secondly, we were looking for a party with demonstrable continuity in business operations and its own management department. We were looking for a solid management partner, not a developer with management as an ancillary task. Of course price was important, but also availability of people and resources to carefully take over the management”.

Specialists in PHP

Ibuildings turned out to be the right match for NBD-Online. Steven Braam explains: “They came forward as the party in the Netherlands with knowledge and experience in PHP. We also heard that from others. The size and continuity of the company and the presence of a support department were the deciding factors for me. Almost without knowledge transfer, Ibuildings persuaded the code and reconstructed as much as possible. That was not easy and also meant that we had to wait longer with new developments. But they took over the application energetically and we are now on the 3rd release”.

Cloning knowledge banks

When the management of NBD-Online was in order, a development project presented itself. Sdu Publishers wanted to make thousands of pages of valuable information from books, guidelines and loose-leaf publications available online. The change from offline to online is irreversible, also for publishers. Digital knowledge banks with subscription sales meant a new source of income. Sdu had a clear requirement: they wanted to develop a model knowledge base, after which they could easily clone subsequent knowledge bases and bring them online quickly. There also had to be interaction with other online Sdu products, such as portals. Drupal seemed to be the most suitable platform. Steven started a new quotation process.

Quotation with transparent costs

“I’ve approached three parties, including Ibuildings, who I already knew as administrator. Their quotation for the new software development was also clearly better. They had prepared it accurately according to our request and provided insight into their cost calculations. Very transparent. If a requirement turns out to be more expensive or cheaper than you would expect as a client, you can immediately discuss whether you have understood each other correctly. Their approach to the ‘clone’ model also appealed directly to us. The other two hadn’t really formulated it yet. That made the choice clear,” says Steven.

Energetic project approach

“The project went very well,” Steven continues. “Ibuildings handled it very well with a project manager and a team of experienced people who could build well. We worked with iterations, partial deliveries, which Ibuildings always explained. What we did encounter was the interfacing with other Sdu products. That turned out to be less easy in Drupal than we thought. On the one hand, we want as much standard as possible in order to be able to clone easily, while the interfacing still requires more customization. It now works in a simplified version, but we are going to improve that even more”.

Knowledge base online within a month

There are now five knowledge databases online, including ATEX, NEN1010 and NEN3140. A new one will follow every month for the next eighteen months. Cloning is going as expected. Within four days, Ibuildings will have a new knowledge base technically ready, after which the editors will fill the content. Within a month the knowledge base will be online. Steven: “Ibuildings makes us faster and more flexible in technology. Also in management. We can put things online or modify them ourselves. Would I recommend them? I have already done so. They are good, skilled people who respond quickly and clearly. Simple, isn’t it?”