Every organization wants to seize its own destiny. In an era where business processes and applications are deeply intertwined, the difference between business success and failure simply comes down to how rapidly applications are built and deployed.
To rise to that opportunity Zilveren Kruis, a unit of Achmea with over five million policyholders that has become one of the largest health insurers in the Netherlands, after evaluating multiple options decided to standardize on the low-code application development platform from Mendix.
As it turns out, however, selecting a platform is only the first step in a journey. Rather than relying solely on external developers, it quickly became apparent to the IT leaders of Zilveren Kruis the insurance firm would need to build their own application development and deployment center of excellence for building and deploying low-code applications.
To achieve that goal Zilveren Kruis opted to partner with Mansystems, one of the largest Mendix partners in the world, to train its IT staff how to implement a set of best practices for building and deploying applications based on the Mendix low-code platform that could eventually be embraced across all of Achmea.
“Our objective was clear,” says Voorthuijzen. “Put together our own Mendix team within Zilveren Kruis so other parts of Achmea could benefit from this initiative as well.”
Mendix Business Engineers
Like most organizations, the IT department at Zilveren Kruis is comprised of business analysts, information managers, and architects. Before implementing Mendix, business analysts at Zilveren Kruis were mainly focused on content, while software engineers focused on building the applications that surfaced that content.
After adopting Mendix, however, roles within the IT department at Zilveren Kruis quickly began to converge mainly because low-code development platforms are so much more accessible than legacy platforms.
“With Mendix you can merge the job of business analyst and software engineer,” says Voorthuijzen. “We call these people Mendix Business Engineers.”
The Mansystems team assigned to work on these projects applauded Zilveren Kruis for taking that approach.
“I found the structure of the team inspiring,” says Michel van den Bempt, a Mansystems consultant. “The combination of people with diverse backgrounds – from business analysts to database expert to generalist – works well.”
Such a transition, however, doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to create a Mendix Business Engineer. In fact, one of the primary reasons Zilveren Kruis decided to partner with Mansystems is because the level of expertise needed is not readily available at a time when critical skills are in already in short supply. Not only did Mansystems provide the training Zilveren Kruis needed; it committed to providing access to Mansystems experts whenever required.
“We needed a partner who could train, support, advise, and coach our people,” says Voorthuijzen. “But this partner should also be able to supply manpower if we ourselves do not have sufficient capacity to build the applications.”
Other factors that played a key role in deciding to partner with Mansystems include the rate at which Mendix Business Engineers could be trained on a new platform over the course of a seven-week bootcamp and how well Mansystems personnel could fit into the Zilveren Kruis, adds Voorthuijzen.
Despite having to dedicate staff to an immersive approach to training spanning several weeks, Voorthiijzen says Zilveren Kruis has no regrets.
The people who have come from this Mansystems Mendix Academy program have been trained so Zilveren Kruis one year after the start of the effort is exactly where it wants to be, says Voorthuijzen. “The knowledge Mansystems people have and the type of people who work for the company ensure that business applications are delivered not only quickly, but also robustly,” says Voorthuijzen.
Thanks to that level of collaboration with Mansystems, Zilveren Kruis today is not only capable of building any class of low-code applications required, it is now truly master of its own business destiny.