Cegeka-DSA and Xpirit
Continuous Delivery strengthens Cegeka-DSA’s market position
As a leading software developer for the Dutch real-estate market, Cegeka-DSA provides solutions that help its clients meet the evolving demands of their customers. Evolving demands in terms of government-mandated transparency and efficiencies, as well as technological changes such as 24/7 digital access and self-service with a wide range of choices.
Cegeka-DSA rose to the challenge by entering a migration path to a standardized, Microsoft Visual Studio- based generic software platform.
Combined with Continuous Delivery and Automated Testing, the solution meets the market’s demands as well as offering high levels of flexibility and reliability. To avoid losing time along an unfamiliar development path, Cegeka-DSA involved Xpirit as a guide and thought leader.
Cegeka-DSA leads the market for software solutions for the real estate market in The Netherlands. Its product suite includes solutions for property management, including the entire lifecycle following a rental contract, as well as management solutions for maintenance and new construction projects. However, the Dutch real estate market has been facing challenges during recent years.
Political and technological challenges
Anton Vreugdenhil, Cegeka-DSA’s CEO, describes some of the challenges: “The market in which we operate comprises a large number of housing corporations. Following a large amount of public and political attention, most housing corporations were put under pressure to improve their service levels and performance, while at the same time reducing costs.
This pressure created an interesting playing field for Cegeka-DSA, because the market needed state-of-the-art solutions to meet its customers’ as well as the government’s requirements as stated in new legislation.”
Cegeka DSA’s CTO, Jeroen van der Heijden, highlights the technological challenges by listing the world-changing developments of the last two decades. “Traditionally, clients wanted proprietary solutions that met their unique needs. Their old legacy software had involved lengthy development cycles, resulting in complex source code that was rigid, lacking the flexibility to accommodate easy-to-implement changes. Meanwhile, the software world has changed drastically, both in terms of architectural approach and development methods, as well as customer demands.”
Jeroen continues: “Internet and cloud-based developments have driven rapid change, available to the world at large. Because of their knowledge of the virtually unlimited options offered by internet-based apps, customers have become demanding rather than passive recipients. They want 24/7 digital access and self-service with the ability to choose from a wide array of customized service options. Demands that they want met today rather than tomorrow.”
“Moreover, the market has made a revolutionary change from proprietary-owned, custom-made and costly systems to sharing standardized generic applications that can easily be tailored to accommodate individual differences.”
Rising to the challenge with full force
Cegeka DSA rose to these challenges in order to meets its customers’ demands and to retain and strengthen its market share. Anton summarizes the company’s action plan: “The substantial number of similarities in our customers’ requirements allowed us to create a standardized but easily customizable baseline SaaS solution, realized in Microsoft Visual Studio platform.
In addition, we made a transition to the Cloud to avoid the high costs of individual data centers. Contradictory as it may sound, the amount of standardization is proportional to the amount of flexibility. The source code is more transparent, which makes the solution more agile. Moreover, because all generic knowhow and costs are shared, general product development is more cost-effective. It’s like the old adage: ‘why would you re-invent the wheel time and again?’.”
Jeroen adds: “At the same time, changes needed to happen fast, and customers wanted error free, do-it-right-first-time solutions with a short time to market. Due to time constraints, manual testing was no longer an option. What was required was short development sprints with continuous testing in an automated development process. In short, Continuous Delivery.”
No time to lose, so walking it alone was no option
Although Cegeka-DSA has a lot of in-house development expertise, including agile working methods and a SCRUM-based project approach, the integration of Continuous Delivery in its development path led through large areas of new territory. Exploring this territory, including the migration from legacy to virtual machines, however challenging and exciting as it may sound, was not an option.
In order to ensure undelayed progress in this new territory, Cegeka-DSA involved Xpirit’s René van Osnabrugge, an ALM consultant and MVP in the domain of Visual Studio. What’s more, as a thought leader in the domain of Continuous Delivery, René offered valuable experience with fact-based knowhow of the do’s and don’ts.
Anton: “René was our tour guide who led the way and saved us from getting lost and thus losing time. And as happens in many situations of change, we were confronted with resistance to change. Developers relied on old techniques and methods, and their lack of experience with the process of automated testing and Continuous Delivery, kept them attached to their old habits. However, René’s clearly visible experience instilled confidence and helped overcome this emotional debt.”
Value for money: Xpirit delivered
Xpirit’s involvement has certainly paid off. Jeroen van der Heijden: “René has guided and assisted us in creating a new pipeline from source code to a running environment including automated testing, resulting in a short time to market with 100% reliability and traceability.
He helped us progress from average performance in terms of development and deployment to a leading position, which means an enormous leap in quality and efficiency. And in addition to his guidance as a consultant, he rolled up his sleeves at times and got down into the nitty-gritty of writing or debugging code. ”
Anton Vreugdenhil adds: “René often came up with answers that went way beyond our questions, and in many areas we received far more than we had hoped for. As a result, we succeeded in achieving our goal of satisfying our clients’ demands as well as strengthening our market position. And despite a change in staff – which at times meant a gap in communications on technical issues –René managed to complete his part of the project within a period of a mere nine months.”