TAF Verzekeringen specializes in life and disability insurances. By means of systematic investments in IT, the relatively new and highly successful company stands out in quality and efficiency. NetRom Software was asked to re-develop the policy administration system. Team Lead IT Danny Dreverman explains why.
We do not work directly for clients, but always through intermediaries: in many cases, our products are linked to a mortgage and require good advice. Our organization now consists of 50 employees and we work with over 2,000 independent agents. We provide both our agents and our own employees with the best possible IT support, thus enabling them to work better, easier and faster. For this reason, the service delivery to our customers is superior to our competitors. That's what counts.
Time to market
This approach is clearly reflected in our organization and methods. Our IT is organised on the basis of the DevOps concept. In a team of 13 people, Development and Operations collaborate with Quality Assurance to continuously improve IT services. We work agile, in short development cycles. Because we consistently respond to new market developments, a short time-to-market is crucial. The interaction with the business is very close. However, in 2013 we noticed that the list of desired innovations was longer than what we could expect to achieve with the capacity of the existing IT team. Yet we were not directly excited about the idea to expand it: there was no more room, neither physical or in the organization. Offshoring to another continent was not an option for me because of previous negative experiences.
While we were thinking about our options how to solve this problem, we were deploying software of Credit Tools: Credit Manager. The people of Credit Tools told us that they were very enthusiastic about outsourcing development work to NetRom Software. It brought them the time and the focus to delve into the question that really matters: which innovations do our users require and how do we make it happen? These were important questions and we recognized them.
Proof of concept
It didn’t take long to arrange a first meeting with NetRom Software. Initially we were skeptical about nearshoring: having to control a far-away developer, based on the rent-a-coder model did not attract us. But in the first interviews in the Netherlands, it became very clear that NetRom Software doesn’t offer remote staffing. They accept project responsibility in a very concrete way, along with all micromanagement tasks implied. This knowledge and the experience of our first visit to Craiova made us decide to start a small and easy proof of concept project: a very basic construction in Java of our policy administration system, the first version of which is due for replacement.
In this first project in 2014, we soon discovered that NetRom Software is a mature organization, perfectly capable to balance expertise and pragmatism. The NetRom developers turned out to fit seamlessly in our agile development process, asking exactly the right questions and delivering what we expected well within budget and planning. The success of this pilot project marked the start of a structural co-operation: in autumn 2014, NetRom Software started development of the complete product. The architects and developers in Eindhoven and Craiova exchange views intensively via Skype on a daily basis. The people in Craiova have really become a specialized extension of our own development team. They speak excellent English, they are fast in understanding complex business logic and they have the expertise to develop a future-proof new system.
But apart from their expertise and the various competences, it comes to something that may even be more important: reliance. By going to Craiova, we got acquainted with the people and the processes of NetRom Software. The immense job satisfaction of the developers, the way they communicate, the investments in their professional development: we ‘ve seen it all with our own eyes. Attrition rates are nearly nil because the organization takes such very good care of its employees. The headcount continues to increase sustainably through the intensive collaboration with the two universities. In the recruitment of graduates, NetRom Software systematically has the best bits.
The pleasant relationships, the professionalism and the results constantly confirm and reinforce our good feeling about this co-operation. There is room for critical feedback and new insights from our business. Now we have more time to look into future innovations like an improved workflow without signatures in the commercial process, and smart links between the processes in order to re-use data once it is entered. In my perception, this is not the co-operation of a customer and a supplier, but a partnership for the long term."