Who supplies one third of all homes and buildings in the Netherlands continuously with energy, expects his online presence to be just as solid. Modern, accessible websites for every device according to today’s requirements. Developed and delivered with a clear eye for time and budget and within a tight process. Once you have found a partner who can do that, there is a basis for long-term cooperation.
That’s how it was at network company Alliander. Various units within this energy company now communicate via new websites, in which Ibuildings is involved. This applies, for example, to www.alliander.com, the multilingual, corporate website built in Drupal. And for the new recruitment website: werkenbij.alliander.com and the customer [website www.liander.nl/; both with Drupal as their starting point.
At liander.nl, there was a catch. Alliander had already had the graphic design developed by a modern design agency in Rotterdam but was still looking for a partner for the technical realisation in Drupal. And so Ibuildings - Drupal specialist par excellence - joined the development team.
Drupal as a modern and manageable CMS
Within Alliander, various divisions felt the need to replace existing websites. Not only in design, but also in content management. The sites were outdated and worked with content management systems (CMS) that were no longer fully supported or further developed. High time to renew. Although each division makes choices independently, there is a clear preference for Drupal as CMS. Drupal is known as a very open system. IT management has a lot of possibilities for control, can expand and develop itself and apply security updates. For users, the simplicity and ease of managing content is paramount.
The choice for Drupal was actually obvious. That’s how Alliander ended up at Ibuildings: they were looking for a party with considerable experience in developing web applications in Drupal. But Edwin de Vries, project manager at Ibuildings, indicates that there was more than just Drupal. “During the evaluation, we received appreciation for our tight process management approach. We deliver projects on time and within budget, which the product owners and project managers found quite unique in IT country.
In addition, they appreciated our knowledge and ability to think at different levels. With designers from the design office, project management and Alliander’s IT department. From the technical point of view, we were always able to make an honest, well-founded assessment of whether more capacity or time was needed to achieve goals. That’s how we built trust.
As a technical partner in process management, Ibuildings played a central role between the creatives and the organisation. Edwin de Vries: “We made an inventory of the impact of the design and directly linked this back to project leaders and managers in order to estimate and adjust the consequences for the budget, people and time. There is always an area of tension between graphic design and technology with the customer, often as a plaything. We have learned through our knowledge and experience to technically anticipate and spar with the designers. And to link that back to the customer… Like a spider in the web. In this way you have a valuable influence on the process and you build a relationship of trust with your customer. You transform from supplier to partner. That’s exactly how we want to work together.”
OTAP as a starting point
Like other large companies, Alliander uses its own processes to roll out newly developed software within the existing IT landscape. They work with OTAP environments, where OTAP stands for the various phases of software development: Development, Testing, Acceptance and Production. Ibuildings also had to develop with this methodology. Joris Steyn, lead developer at Ibuildings: “Drupal was new within Alliander. That’s why we regularly discussed how we could roll out Drupal with the existing tooling within the IT landscape. Fortunately, Ibuildings has sufficient knowledge and experience with Drupal to be able to provide good advice”.
With OTAP, software is first fully tested and accepted in a replicated production environment, without endangering the continuity of production. It is an investment, but very useful to avoid high error and failure costs in the real production environment.
The reactions of product owners and project managers to the collaboration with Ibuildings have been positive, as the evaluations have shown. Edwin de Vries: “They were pleasantly surprised that we delivered projects on time and within budget. But also that at liander.nl, for example, we made adjustments on time, because the scope of the project turned out to be much larger than first thought. One of the project managers summed it up as follows: ‘You have a clear proposition, you know what you can and can’t do and that’s how you communicate it. I am extremely satisfied with that’.
We ourselves are happy with the open communication and the short lines of communication. It works pleasantly and quickly. So it’s a great collaboration, which we hope to continue for a long time to come”.