User Group in the Netherlands
Last week we had the opportunity to attend the User Group in the Netherlands at the kind invitation of the Engage Process team. It was great to be able to get into the office in Amsterdam as well to catch up on all the exciting things that have been added to the HTML5 version and also the stuff road mapped for development across the next year.
From my perspective, as well as looking to pick the brains of the team to solve some challenges I have with mapping some new health processes, I was also looking forward to getting an opportunity to get some ideas and inspiration on how the community is using the tool to solve real business challenges. We have captured some images from the event but also video of Engage customers and staff talking about the product its history, use and ethos.
I had no idea what to expect and also how much I would be able to gain by attending an event in the Dutch language. The funny thing was in terms of the presentations I did not understand the language being spoken but did understand the language of Engage Process so they made sense to me. As someone from the UK visiting another country I am always amazed by the English language skills being demonstrated by people abroad and shamed by my own capabilities. All the users were not only able to talk to me fluently in English but also detailed technical conversations about process improvement.
As someone from the UK visiting another country I am always amazed by the English language skills being demonstrated by people abroad and shamed by my own capabilities
The venue was excellent and the sun was shining. It is nice for a change at an event to have any easy set up. A few pens laid out and my laptop switched on and I was ready. Many thanks to the guys at Engage for letting us capture photos and video from the event to give our UK users a flavour of the day. Thanks to Nigel Bishop for the excellent work with photos, videos and case studies. Well done to all for the hard work getting it all set up in the morning ready for the 100+ users and for creating some excellent content for the day.
The user group started with a networking lunch although the Netherlands is relatively small and has great public transport (when compared to what I am used to in the UK) many users had travelled over 2 hours to get there. I had lots of interesting conversations with public and private sector companies over how the tool is used to support their business processes in perfect English but always with an apology from them that their English is not very good! It was great to talk all things Lean and Agile with Dutch users and compare our respective journeys from each country.
Dick Langeveld kicked it all off showing a map of the users and introducing some of them and their companies. Dick laid out the agenda and format for the day as well as explaining what the strange UK folk were here doing. The day was made up of a series of Engage specific workshops to help the users but also a number of customer case studies and of course a session on GDPR and how you can apply the tools within Engage to move towards compliance.
As is always the case with these types of events I would like to have attended all the sessions but with some running in parallel I had to make compromises. Up first was the main keynote Ted Twaalfhoven talking about the company, its vision and also sharing his extensive knowledge of Lean and its history and development over the years. Its definitely the first time I have seen Lean history taken back to the year 1000bc and as always with Ted it was a really informative session pulling on his extensive knowledge drawn from many years within the automotive and aviation industry. It was very interesting talking to Ted about his work in aviation where the focus is far less on process efficiency as a primary driver and far more on ensuring quality.
A fraction of a fraction of a percent variance in quality in aviation processes can have absolutely catastrophic outcomes, now that’s pressure. One of the few times I have been glad I ‘only’ need to help customers save 10% resources in processes year on year
I loved the use of the Viewer to share the outputs,agenda and presentations really practical demonstration of how the tool can be used to collaborate and feedback on processes. See image below or click here to see agenda displayed as a process map in the Viewer.
Next up for me was the session from Pascal van der Waa on tips and tricks for running process workshops. Pascal has been with Engage for many years and I always take the opportunity to learn from him whenever I can. Both of us are what I would term ‘Process geeks’ with many years at the coal face delivering sessions and training to users and customers. Pascal’s session was excellent and I noticed around the room lots of frantic scribbling and taking of photos of the presentation. The session was very much aimed at how customers can make better use and benefit from the tools. I hope to bring this session to a webinar near you soon in the UK but more on this later.
After a break and more learning from Dutch customers about how they gain tangible business benefits from the tools, next up for me was Iwan’s session on sharing/collaborating on processes and also how to make a process handbook within the Publisher. Some excellent well designed process handbooks were shown that put my squares on a page to shame! This session again would be great to deliver in the UK as we both find that customers first start with the tool and map a number of processes and identify benefits then between 9 and 18 months into their Engage journey they start to take advantage of the more collaborative features of the tools. Many of you in the UK will know Iwan by name as he is the primary customer contact for Engage as the Customer Success Manager and sends lots of emails around support and assistance.
In parallel to both the previous sessions there was lots of customer case studies and the impossible to avoid and vitally important GDPR session. I was gutted to not be able to attend these as well. The final session was from Remco Schrijvers the CTO of Engage. Remco’s session detailed all the work the team have been putting in to HTML5, what has already been delivered and what is planned in the roadmap for the next year. Remco also provided an update on progress of migrating users from Silverlight to HTML5. The session was really useful for me to catch up with the excellent functionality already delivered.
I was also pleased to see (but not surprised) that a quarter had been allocated to looking at what I would call technical debt. It highlights the maturity of the company that following a major migration to a new platform time is allocated to delivering the behind the scenes stuff that no one sees but is vital to delivering an excellent robust enterprise product.
We are about to migrate our first UK user (although new customers in the UK are already using HTML5 by default) to HTML5. We will be discussing the migration process with our UK users over the next couple of months to agree a schedule that works for them.
Finally it was Dick to sum up the day and our opportunity to do the prize draw for all of the customers who did some video case studies which we will issue shortly to help our UK users. I made the clever decision to allow Dick to draw the winner as my lovely assistant to ensure I could not be blamed for not picking the right winner! Up next was a drinks reception and lots more learning for me.
I can’t thank the team on the day and the entire Engage family enough for allowing me the opportunity to attend. As always with these events I find them invigorating and inspiring and it was great to see such a vibrant user community. My only issue with the day is it has created a great deal of work for me with the new ideas I gained from listening and speaking to people during the day. I intend to bring some of the excellent ideas to the UK community and some great stuff on leveraging the platform functionality for that GDPR compliance journey and how to turn what could be perceived as a compliance headache to a positive opportunity to drive benefits in organisations.
Watch this space for details of the webinars and early next year we will be delivering a UK user group in partnership with Engage and other UK partners to start to grow the same sort of vibrant user community here. We would love to get some Dutch users across to share case studies with UK users as well.