Bas van den Eertwegh

In constant development, Java has now become one of the leading programming environments in the business world, manipulating and processing an influx of data to create applications and application modules as per business requirements. A myriad of programmes and applications have transitioned to Java from other programming languages, due to its scalability and ability to process data much more efficiently. A broad range of trends have been taking over explains Bas van den Eertwegh, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Group9, “One trend is that systems are more interlinked with other systems and must perform more ‘real time’. This leads to more complex systems. Another trend is that systems have a much higher frequency of releases, time to market is everything.” One needs to ensure that the systems perform effectively and are maintainable, adequate architectural principles have to be adhered to, the right tools have to be used and most importantly project execution has to be of a high standard. Meeting and exceeding every client demand is Group9, headquartered in Netherlands, with their team of professionals specializing in Java software development. “Within this field we specialize in various aspects such as process management, big data, and security. Perhaps our real strength is project execution,” reveals Bas.

Standing Apart from Other Solution Providers

He goes on to tell us how his company sets themselves apart from its competitors in the market with their three categories; Secondment, Consultancy and Project delivery. To be a part of Group9, there is a strong emphasis on employing real IT professionals who not only know their technologies but are also well versed in software engineering principles in general and are able to deliver value as a team to the end-user. For Consultancy, the main differentiators are an honest and clear advice, and the ability to not only proffer consultation services but also perfect execution by mapping out the requirements of the client and finally developing and delivering software in the utmost professional manner.

Rob Slaats, Owner & Managing Partner, Group9

Setting the Foundation of the Company

Incepted as a Java software development company in 2011 by a duo of veterans in this domain – Bas van den Eertwegh and Rob Slaats, the company was born by the brilliant minds out of a reaction to the mediocrity of the bigger main stream ICT companies where Rob and Bas used to work. The company focussed and continues to focus on attracting and retaining the best Java software professionals. In order to be successful the co-founders created an environment where those professionals could prosper, by creating a non-hierarchical culture with a lot of autonomy and acquiring challenging projects.

The company cultivates a strong culture within its office that equips the team to deal with a host of clientele with their unique needs. Every team member is passionate about software development and this is what propels them to work ceaselessly on various projects. Embracing the aspect that everybody is different with their own set capabilities, each team member brings their unique offering to the table. “We realised that nobody is the same but has different strong points, we made it a policy to ‘cherish the difference’; know your colleague and respect the ways in which she/he is different and use it to be stronger together,” adds Bas. The company expects a high level commitment and evolvement towards each other and the people within the organization to radiate energy as it is a service company. in order to strengthen this culture, the co-founders have put in place extensive social skills and health programs.

Continually endeavouring to deliver best-in-class services with high levels of customer satisfaction, each member at Group9 plays a unique role as Software Architects, Senior JAVA Developers, scrum masters, Lead Developers, technical leads, DEVOPS specialists and perform Continuous Integration. With a host of experts on-board with a strong focus on both technical and social skills, the company is not only proficient with Java technology, but are also able to leverage the technology to deliver business value for the client.

Over the years with the help of its tenured team, Group9 has a proven track record of having worked with a gamut of well-renowned organizations, helping them meet their unique business needs with an astounding success rate and high levels of customer satisfaction. Bas recounts some of the clients he worked with, “For one of our customers we introduced in-depth performance analysis of their core-systems which were able to afterwards deliver on peak-loads needed for yearly delivery of important information to their customers.” This enabled the client the creation of a new platform for their own business and enabling organizational change world-wide. Yet again for another client, the team worked in tandem with the business and delivered a streaming data analytics platform based on Apache Spark, delivering highly increased throughput on the real-time analysis which had to be performed, increasing the quality with which the systems manufactured the products.

Explaining the workings of the DevOps, Docker, and Front-end Javascript platforms and how the company ensures clients stay ahead of its competitors in the market with the quick delivery of new features within an application, Bas elucidates the various platforms to us, the ability of DevOps and Docker assures that the team is capable of rolling out changes comfortably and confidently. By employing technologies and approaches like DevOps and Docker, releases can happen often, delivering changes quickly to end-users, without the stress and in extreme cases without down-time at all.

Assisting Customers Achieve their Targets

Every technology while still advancing has its limitations and part of the success is dependent of the team implementing such technologies, the team at Group9 acts as a catalyst at reaching business goals. The company does not go out of its way to promise any client that employing the aforementioned technologies will net a direct benefit, but rather extends its services and offerings and in parallel with the client’s in-house team, together devise a step by step process to start delivering value on the investment which needs to be done to realize full DevOps, fully in line with Agile principles. Rob adds, “As for Front-end Javascript, we see, again in line with Agile principles, the need for multi-disciplinarily teams which are able to deliver end-to-end features. This means we also need to deliver front-end functionality, where obviously Javascript platforms are the current standard in that area”

Innovation is Key

This domain has potential for continual improvement with a lot of new development in tooling and development technologies. Staying abreast trending technologies is of critical importance at Group9. While the team constantly learns through the projects worked on and industry challenges encountered and addressed whilst working with any client, the company invests in innovation thereby gearing themselves up for the future.
The company looks at innovation through a different lens, seeing it happening at three categories, supported by a baseline. Firstly, innovation is seen as the various new emerging technologies which are being created on a day by day basis, second is innovation at the more software engineering level, where new and better ways to deliver functionality are created.

But what the company invests most of its time and resources is where it really can see innovation reflecting off and that is within the office. Innovation at Group9 is viewed as a key aspect to assuring the extension of revolutionary technologies and top-notch performance. To support this, the company has taken onboard a myriad of approaches to improve themselves, where this improvement always has a highly social aspect; knowledge and innovation thrives when people get together. Therefore keeping this in mind, the key stakeholders conduct regular internal discussions on new technologies and have conferences where there is extensive focus on exchanging knowledge gained.

Further propelling innovation, the advisory board at Group9 have a research day where a subject is selected which will be investigated by the team, that happens twice a year. To support highly new initiatives, “hacking nights” are organized on a regular basis where people are encouraged to share their pet-projects. In conjunction with this, the company is steadily building up Groups (often also called Guilds based on Lean methodology), bringing together people with a shared interest. “Doing all this of course requires a huge deal of energy and motivation from our people, which is why we focus heavily on programs to both keeping people healthy and socially engaged with each other,” informs Rob as he understands how to cultivate a better environment and work culture. Joining in marathons, organizing supporting trainings and boot-camps, supporting groups of people with a shared sport-interest and just events where the entire team can come together and can socialize are examples of such programs. It may not be a part of innovation but is essential in ensuring an enduring ability for people to innovate while perfectly balancing the scales of work and fun. All this resulted in a top 10 ranking in the list of the best ICT companies in the Netherlands.

The Path Ahead

Continuing to deliver cutting-edge solution with value added services, the company envisions venturing into the AI and data science segments. Equipping themselves for the future and aware of the shallow talent pool in this market, the company is currently working on training promising young talent where they will be coached and guided.

Case Study:

Group9 was approached by a client who was working on a system where development was increasingly being hampered by the setup of the architecture of the system, and development of the many teams wasn’t aligned to ensure they were able to deliver value to the end-user. In this case, the team redesigned the architecture to support a Straight-Through-Processing and Self-Service approach of process management, combined with a sustainable approach based on Domain Driven Design to evolve the system to business needs. The system was step-by-step transformed from a monolithic approach, to a more modular approach which may grow into micro-services later on. The development of the system was transitioned from a data-entry approach to a BPM based approach, where automation is key. This resulted in key opportunities for the business to decrease the workforce needed, heavily cutting costs. Development was restructured to employ Group9’s own approach to focus on quick experimentation and discovery of the right business features which need to be delivered. Finally, this was augmented by the introduction of an Agile methodology; the focus on the automation of various DevOps operations to increase speed of delivery. Finally, quality of the delivered system was largely increased reducing cost of maintenance and changes. In the end, velocity of development increased to such a level that this project hardly needed any attention from upper management.


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