Rotterdam on the way with information-driven working

Photo Daan van Beek MSc
Author: Daan van Beek MSc
Business Partner
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In 2014, the Rotterdam’s community wanted to bring more cohesion to all BI activities. It started with information architecture and the description of a strategy. A pilot project focused on school dropouts, along with Passionned Group, must now show how it works in practice. The book ‘Data Science for Decision Makers & Data Professionals’ of author Daan van Beek served as inspiration here.

There is a growing need to be flexible and to adjust more often

Communities become increasingly aware of their long-standing policy cycle based on multi-year plans failing to work so well as used to. There is also a growing need to be flexible and to be able to stay in tune based on available current data. Willy Groenewold, senior information management adviser at the CIO office of the municipality of Rotterdam, has therefore introduced the term ‘information-driven working’ at the municipality. “It’s a somewhat more value-free term than business intelligence, chosen in order to break free a bit from the technology and from the ‘that’s-not-for-me’ feeling.”

“The broad vision and approach fascinated me”

Last year, Groenewold and her colleagues realized that different departments of the municipality were indeed working with management and control information, but there was no shared vision of BI or a crystallized working method. “Our Research and BI department asked the CIO to develop architecture to provide a framework for it. We set to work on it last year.” Like many others, she came across Data Science for Decision-Makers book by Daan van Beek during her search. The broad vision and approach fascinated me. We could use the book to show that the stakeholders were busy with different aspects, but it was missing the bigger picture.”

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Dot on the horizon

Van Beek was invited to review the concept architecture – the dot on the horizon – and then contribute the missing elements, but the story didn’t stop there. Once the architecture was established, we asked ourselves, ‘how do we ensure that it is realized and doesn’t just disappear in a drawer’?” Together with Passionned, Groenewold and her colleagues worked out the strategy, and they also came to two conclusions. The stakeholders said, ‘we would like a baseline, an overview of the current state of affairs'”.

Based on around 250 completed questionnaires and 25 interviews, we now have the clear picture of the actual and the desired situation. This establishes an important basis for further elaboration of a ‘roadmap’. The other conclusion was that it was important to properly test the new BI arrangements in a pilot and to demonstrate the advantages of this working method.

BI is largely a change management process

The whole exercise is largely a change management process, says Groenewold. “It can not be developed by technical specialists alone. It all starts with a line department pointing out what goals must be managed and what processes and data are thereby important.

Some are more and others are less aware, and, so, such a baseline makes answers clear. Success requires effort from all stakeholders, and it takes much work to have it grounded within our organization. Passionned is also very strong in the organizational and process-oriented aspect of BI.”

The wind blows in the right direction

When it comes to information-driven work, the wind in Rotterdam is blowing in the right direction, finds Groenewold. “It is generally recognized that we have too little capacity in the area of BI and it’s important to give this more attention.”

Doing it yourself is therefore important, she says. “What I really like about Passionned is that they don’t take it over and use a sort of prefab approach, but, instead, they are constantly keeping on their toes to see what suits the organization.”

A pilot project for youth

The pilot project, which is currently running, arose from a request from the National Program Rotterdam South (NPRZ). “Management information is very important in order to see exactly what is happening now and what progress has been made in the area of housing, care, and work. This information must come from different parts of the municipality. ” This often still happens ad hoc for some aspects.

The pilot project, where Passionned is involved once again, is part of the whole program and focuses specifically on making school dropout and youth unemployment KPIs clear and analyzable. “With that, it should be clear how the processes run, what we know of young people, which parts of the municipality are involved, and what information we have available from the systems. This is really important for the National Program, and this helps clusters in the municipal organization.”

Collaborative state

Groenewold sees a lot of enthusiasm arising by that. “With the pilot, the people with the questions are finally helped, so they are very positive. These employees get into the collaborative state. From there, it becomes important to convince the people who are more distant from the implementation of the benefits of information-driven working and to get a flywheel effect going. It remains important to keep up closely with the demand, but I have no doubt that this way of working will be developed further by the municipality of Rotterdam in the coming period.”

Interested in our approach?

Do you want a no obligation discussion with our advisers about the approach outlined above and what information-driven working can mean to your municipality? Please contact Daan van Beek.

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