NetRom helps P1 with domain specific development capacity 

NetRom helps P1 with domain specific development capacity 

P1 finds top talent through nearshoring partnership with NetRom 

Mobility entails more than just moving from A to B. Mobility also incorporates parking, in a car park or on the streets. Without realizing, many people already use P1’s services while parking. 

P1 develops and provides a variety of services for customers such as municipalities and car park owners. Drivers should be able to park in clean parking garages without problems, receive immediate support if they have questions, easily purchase parking permits or subscriptions, and be able to manage these themselves. Clients like having an insight into P1’s services, such as the speed with which malfunctions are resolved, results of enforcement (manually or using a scanner vehicle) or the collection of fines and the handling of submitted objections. 

Parking service provider P1 develops software in order to provide all of these services. Willem-Sander Markerink, program manager at P1, is responsible for software development. “We started with one large, integrated solution that could do everything, but have now moved away from that. We made the decision to do so in order to prevent applications from becoming too large and to ensure parts are easier to replace,” explains Markerink. 

“Wherever possible, we buy off the shelf software. This could be an application for communicating with all kinds of remote devices: intercoms, video connections, payment terminals, barriers… Anything not readily available off the shelf, we develop ourselves. This mainly concerns applications related to the issuance of permits and subscriptions.”

Choice for nearshoring 

Development your own software  is faster and yields better results if you have sufficient capacity and a variety of competencies. Some six years ago, after having gained previous experience with service providers outside Europe, P1 engaged NetRom for a very specific project: building an application, in the PHP programming language, that allows users to settle objections against an additional imposed cost. Markerink explains: “An important reason for choosing NetRom was European proximity. For that first project, we wrote detailed specifications, which were converted into Stories. Based on this, NetRom came up with a project proposal: they were confident they could do the project for a fixed price. That worked out well. Based on those good results, P1 decided to continue working with NetRom and integrate a number of NetRom developers into the team. We now have two developers internally, and three developers and a quality assurance and testing officer at NetRom.” 

“We are currently outsourcing development of visitor parking applications to NetRom. To realize this, areas need to be clearly defined and drivers’ identities must also be known in order to determine whether they are entitled to a certain parking facility. For example, there is a link with the Netherland’s National Parking Register (Nationaal Parkeerregister). This application is maintained by the Dutch vehicle Registration Authority RDW and is a national database in which all current parking rights are registered by license plate. The moment someone claims visitor parking, our software starts calculating – after checking whether visitors are entitled to a discount. The same goes for creating a booking platform that allows drivers to book in advance so they can park at a lower rate.” 

The development team’s working language is English. “That makes working with some concepts a little difficult – we have provided context and explanations for Dutch concepts such as ‘additional charge, ‘objection’ and ‘appeal’. Parking in the Netherlands is highly regulated, down to square meter level. We visited Romania for the first time last year; It was  good to explain how things works here.” 

In NetRom we have a partner who takes care of everything, and all team members work well together. This is not a split team working at a great distance.

Willem-Sander Markerink, program manager at P1 

Working close together 

Markerink considers working with NetRom a true partnership. “We are a close-knit team. For day-to-day collaboration we use a scrum application. We start with a morning daily session, hold planning meetings, do sprint refinements so everyone clearly understands what needs to be done, and hold a retrospective at the end of sprints. For example, we do back and forth code peer reviews, so that we can help each other improve. Whenever code is added, a merge request is made, which is reviewed by at least one other developer. Code will be approved or returned with comments.” Incidentally, not everything fits into the scrum model; NetRom’s team members also play a role in software support. 

At the start of the partnership, NetRom also helped P1 set up a good development process, says Markerink. “At first, we partly worked according to scrum principles. In practice, scrum is quite unruly. What is also very valuable to us is that NetRom has a sizeable network of IT people. Our internal group is small, but we can turn to NetRom with all sorts of questions, such as which technology is best for which application. This has already led to choices that would have turned out differently had we not consulted with them. Furthermore, in NetRom we have a partner who takes care of everything, and all team members work well together. This is not a split team working at a great distance.” 

Regarding the importance of proximity, Markerink says: “Understanding and cooperation are easier when you are close. Of course, we could have opted for Dutch developers – if that had been easy, we might have gone down that route. However, the reality is different. In the Netherlands, it is very difficult to find good developers who will commit to a project for a longer period. Developers in the Netherlands have many options  – they can go to work at all kinds of trendy companies. Our line of business is not the first thing that comes to mind.” 

Where do the current software development priorities lie? Markerink: “We regularly take part in tenders. Apart from that, there is always development work to be done. We don’t have a very specific direction of innovation – all kinds of opportunities are constantly arising. Scanning vehicles driving through cities, for example, can also be used for purposes other than scanning license plates. When it comes to innovation, the possibilities are endless.” 

About P1

P1 is an innovative parking company that manages parking facilities for dozens of municipalities and clients in the Netherlands. P1 offers high-quality user-friendly parking solutions for car parks and paid parking areas. Services are as varied as client requests and range from parking permit management to enforcement, objection handling, and dashboards. P1 is an independent part of Q-Park.

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