Offerman Consulting
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Zaaksysteem.nl: Dutch municipal case management system

Author: Adrian Offerman

Case Abstract

Zaaksysteem.nl provides a case management system for Dutch municipalities, allowing them to improve their online services, while at the same time lowering their costs. The open source software is currently being used by eleven municipalities. Another nine municipalities are in the process of tendering.

Case Description

Zaaksysteem.nl provides a case management system for Dutch municipalities, allowing them to improve their online services, while at the same time lowering their costs. The open source software offers functionality to both public servants and citizens, allowing them to manage their cases from home, from a client contact centre, or from their back-office.

Currently, Zaaksysteem.nl is being used by eleven Dutch municipalities — spread across the country — and by Groningen Seaports, supporting an average of fifty to one hundred daily users per site. Another nine municipalities are in the process of tendering.

This list describes the features provided by the system:

  • Information Store,
  • Case Store,
  • Enterprise Service Bus (ESB),
  • Case Management,
  • Case Type Catalogue,
  • Document Management,
  • Case Type Management,
  • Web Forms,
  • Management Information,
  • DigiD Authentication, and
  • MijnGemeente (MyMunicipality).

In the Zaaktypestore over one hundred extension modules in almost twenty categories are available for download, each one providing a specific case type:

  • Archive,
  • Key Registers for Addresses and Buildings,
  • Registration Large Scale Topography,
  • Taxes,
  • Public Order and Safety,
  • Legal,
  • Client Contact Centre,
  • Notifications,
  • Human Resources,
  • Environmental Planning,
  • Social Affairs,
  • Property Taxes,
  • Management,
  • Civil Affairs,
  • Municipal Personal Records Database,
  • Internal,
  • Tests,
  • Permits, and
  • Exemptions.

Documentation for Zaaksysteem.nl is provided via a wiki. Support can be obtained commercially from Mintlab.

Project Size and Implementation

The Dutch city of Bussum started Zaaksysteem.nl in 2010. When the market was unable to provide a system with the required quality and stability, the administration decided to initiate the development of a new case management system itself. The software is being published under the EUPL open source license, thereby complying with Dutch policies in this regard. In addition to lower costs, other advantages include:

  • better cooperation between all participants,
  • once-off payment for new functionality,
  • modern software development techniques, and
  • more innovation.

After this initial project was concluded, the then project manager Peter Moen — in close coordination with the town clerk of Bussum — started Mintlab, a spin-off company providing the following services for Zaaksysteem.nl:

  • software development,
  • support,
  • consultancy, and
  • training.

Although the software is available for free and a municipality can choose to deploy the system itself, all of the current users have purchased the SaaS service provided by Mintlab. The price is based on a subscription fee of 1 euro per inhabitant per year for small municipalities. Larger municipalities are offered customized pricing.

Impact, Innovation and Results

According to Nick Diel, consultant at Mintlab, using the SaaS delivery and price model is far less expensive than self-hosted deployment of Zaaksysteem.nl would be. Only one or two functional managers are required on-site. Municipal IT organisations don't have to worry about running, maintaining, updating and extending the software. For example, security assessment for the Dutch government identity management system DigiD now needs to be conducted only once, allowing the costs to be shared. The same is true for penetration testing and other assessments. For example, an audit that used to cost 12,000 euro can now be carried out for 4,000 euro. Generally, the costs of a shared audit are 25-50 per cent less than those of a traditional audit.

For small municipalities new deploying Zaaksysteem.nl, the system is typically offered at a little less than 200,000 euro for a period of four years and takes about six months to implement. According to Diel, this investment can easily be recouped by phasing out proprietary municipal software solutions that may each individually cost 50,000 euro annually. This way, municipalities can each year save hundreds of thousands of euros in fees for licensing, customization, maintenance, and consultancy. If they execute this transition correctly, investment in Zaaksysteem.nl can be recovered within a year of completion. Since implementations are all based on Dutch municipal law, customizations are limited to local differences in council regulations, Diel says. He emphasizes, however, that a thorough preparation and change management to overcome possible resistance in the organisation are critical success factors in this regard. Mintlab does not offer these services itself, but can recommend partner companies.

Differentiation and Internationalisation

Since the municipalities remain the owner of their data, they are alway free to leave Mintlab and team up with another provider or run their own instance of Zaaksysteem.nl. Currently, however, Mintlab is the only company providing services for Zaaksysteem.nl. But that will change, says Diel. I expect other companies to be serving other sectors, like education and financials, before long. The signs are there; it's only a matter of time.

The design and core of the system are generic, and everything is configurable, so the software can be deployed in other markets and other countries without too many adjustments. If, for example, a German city would like to deploy Zaaksysteem.nl, we will have to train a couple of people to provide local support, but writing a connector to interface with the German Chamber of Commerce, for example, can be done within a month. The same is true if the NEN 2082 standard, implementing the Dutch archiving law, does not encompass the German requirements in this regard.

In addition to individual customizations, new functionality is added to the Zaaksysteem.nl roadmap based on input provided by the user community on a quarterly base.