Strukton Rail is a full service provider for rail systems in Europe. They have been responsible for the functioning of rail systems for more than 90 years. Their knowledge and expertise focuses on both infrastructure and rolling stock. Safety and reliability are paramount. Strukton Rail is the largest player in the Netherlands and is expanding further in Europe. The organisation employs 3,000 people and has its own offices in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Germany.

Ibuildings already developed iWorkx Safety Plan for Strukton Rail. Now the Oases software package has been added: a software tool for modelling business processes. Gerard Keizer and Albert Grit, respectively Manager and Consultant Business Processes, look back on a smooth development process and an excellent collaboration with Ibuildings. “We have been working with Ibuildings for some time now and really see them as co-makers. Honest, involved and focused on budget, scope and planning.”

Obsolete modelling software

The existing modelling software at Strukton Rail was in desperate need of replacement. Over fifteen years in use, based on an outdated Oracle database, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain or expand with new functions. While the licenses continued to run. Gerard Keizer: “The application, especially the backend, was not user-friendly. Only an expert could work with it. We needed new functionality. A compliance matrix, for example, that shows the relationship between requirements and standards of governments and customers and their solutions in clear processes and information flows. Or clear interaction diagrams that show the relationship between processes. In addition, we wanted open source software: all source codes under our own management and no more licenses.

Ibuildings, of course

Strukton Rail asked Ibuildings as a ‘house developer’ to rebuild Oases (previsouly named iWorkx Blueprint). Gerard Keizer: “I have a lot of faith in Ibuildings, so why should we consider another party? They work methodically and systematically. That starts with a thorough functional design, in which they show their proposals. Then they develop, iteratively, in sprints and with ‘proofs of concept’. You immediately see the result and whether it works. Ibuildings constantly provides feedback. Both about the finances and about the technical progress. Another advantage: they invest themselves as well. For this project, for example, they first completely immersed themselves in the structure of the old system in a short period of time. Then you are immediately on the same wavelength”.

From rigid and static to interactive and dynamic

The most important change for the new system is that from a rigid and static modelling system to a dynamic system to describe processes. A system where users can easily interactively edit processes, resources and tooling. Quite a few technical challenges have been overcome, for which no standard solution existed. How do you translate complex, flat data into a clear, graphical representation in a dynamic environment on the web? How do you develop a user-friendly editor with which you can easily edit, add, delete and drag elements? Albert Grit is satisfied with the open source solutions Ibuildings has found. “For vector graphics on the web, they use the JavaScript library Raphael; the best library for the JavaScript section. Another conscious choice is for the Symfony PHP Framework, because it is ‘proven’ technology. Scalable, easy to maintain and expand”.

Critical application, internal and external

Gerard Keizer describes Oases as a critical application. “It is the only medium that fully describes Strukton Rail’s organisation, standards and working methods. Indeed, the blueprint for our business operations”. As a result, many people use Oases, both internally and externally. Internally as a reference, for improvement management, analyses, when introducing new employees, training courses. Externally, they are certifying bodies that benefit from Oases: “They can audit us more easily,” says Gerard Keizer. And customers? “We also use Oases to show them how we organise our work. They are enthusiastic about the methodology and even refer others to us, because they think we’re doing well”.

More efficiency, better communication, stronger image

Gerard Keizer and Albert Grit both see the advantages of the new modelling software. Albert Grit: “We work absolutely more efficiently than before. We do more with fewer people and in less time. Our communication has improved, because we have a better overview of all processes”. Gerard Keizer adds: “In addition to higher efficiency and better communication, I see image gain as an advantage. Standardization is a must to deliver the quality and safety our customers demand. Certainly in rail operations. Improvising? That’s really a thing of the past. The insight that customers now gain into our working methods reinforces their confidence. They also notice that standardization leads to more efficiency and therefore to higher quality and more safety”.

Hyperintelligent yet simple

According to Albert Grit, Strukton Rail’s new Oases Rail will enable it to go on for years to come. “The greatest strength of the software system may seem simple, but it has a lot of technical intelligence behind it. That’s what Ibuildings adds. We’re already reaping the rewards now, but that will become even more so as we add more functionality. More extensive reports, performance indicators, feedback on processes. We now also use Oases to create organizational charts. Much more convenient than in Excel.

Gerard Keizer adds: “In time we want to market Oases for other companies in the (rail) transport sector. That fits in exactly with Strukton’s policy: to bring out smart inventions so that others can also benefit from them”.