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4 min read

Venray builds a secure digital data foundation with TimeXtender

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The Municipality of Venray is home to 44,000 residents and encompasses an area of 146.03 km2 in the Dutch region of Limburg. The heart of Venray is 36 kilometres to the south of Nijmegen and 22 kilometres to the north-west of Venlo.

Just like other municipalities in the Netherlands, Venray now has to manage more extensive internal and external networks as well as new parties, partnerships, customised solutions and accountability requirements. As a result, securely providing the right information at the right time within the right context has become an increasingly complicated task. 'Smarter data management means more effective policy that serves our community and society better,' says Theo Peeters, Data Manager at the Municipality of Venray. 'For this reason, we established business intelligence as a vital pillar of our data policy plan for 2019-2022.'

 

'Data is fully anonymised by TimeXtender as soon as it enters the system. This is fantastic for our GDPR compliance.'

Maurice Staals, Business Intelligence Specialist at the Municipality of Venray

 

Prior to the implementation of a business intelligence (BI) environment, the organisation's data provision was driven by Excel sheets, ad hoc data requests and manual connection of databases in order to derive relevant data. 'We operated in a mainly reactive manner, which provided very little support for the policy development process.' explains Maurice Staals, Business Intelligence Specialist at the Municipality of Venray. 'It also resulted in a completely jumbled mess of data products. There was no overview or strategy whatsoever, which had extremely negative consequences for privacy and data security.'

In 2019, the organisation began to put its data policy plan into action, with one of the main strategies being the selection and implementation of a business intelligence platform suitable for extremely broad use. 'The key goals for the platform were user-friendly sharing of information from data analyses, central data management and minimisation of vulnerabilities in the area of data provision, security, and privacy,' says Staals. 'We wanted a well-configured, optimally secure and automated BI system that would eliminate countless hours of manual data entry and processing, allowing us to repurpose this time for decision-making and policy development.'

The Municipality of Venray were very pragmatic when rolling out this BI and data environment. 'We carefully examined what our neighbouring municipality of Horst aan de Maas had done,' explains Staals. 'They were already ahead of us, as together with the company FourPoints, they had developed a uniform environment for data and information provision using the powerful tools of TimeXtender and Power BI. We approached them to work with us on a pilot to demonstrate the added value that BI could provide for our organisation. When we evaluated the results, all of the parties involved were extremely enthusiastic, and it was clear that we needed to establish a similar environment for Venray.'

 

'We now have a well-configured, optimally secure and automated data foundation that eliminates countless hours of manual data entry and processing, allowing us to repurpose this time for decision-making and policy development.'

Maurice Staals, Business Intelligence Specialist at the Municipality of Venray

 

In January 2021, the step-by-step implementation of the data management environment began. Venray chose FourPoints as its implementation partner based on its experience in designing and implementing the data management environment for the Municipality of Horst aan de Maas. 'FourPoints was the logical choice of partner,' says Staals. 'We wanted an environment that was identical to Horst's, and FourPoints had developed that environment. In addition, one of the strategic objectives of FourPoints is to develop environments that their clients can use independently. This limits the number of consultancy hours to the provision of advice during the design phase and the implementation itself.'

'A key strategy at FourPoints is first to think big, but then to start small,' explains Remco van Vliet of FourPoints. 'To do this, we carefully examined the blueprints together with the Municipality of Venray: what roles do you want to create, how do you ensure that the environment will still be fit for purpose in five years' time, and how do you manage data security? We soon started to install TimeXtender and to enter data into the tool to create the first reports.'

'The "sociaal domein" (decentralised integration of Dutch social policy) had the most urgent needs and the most pressing interests,' says Staals. 'For this reason, the first thing we did was to enter all of the data required to monitor progress of all of the various social policy domains into TimeXtender. This included data from specific "sociaal domein" systems such as youth care, social support, debt assistance and education, combined with data from our financial system and the Key Register of Persons. The result was an immediate improvement: within a few weeks, the first data set was ready and staff within the "sociaal domein" were able to use dashboards and analyses all by themselves.'

 

'Smarter data management means more effective policy that serves our community and society better.'

Theo Peeters, Data Manager at the Municipality of Venray

 

After working with TimeXtender for over six months, the municipality has made huge strides in the field of data uniformity and manageability. 'Our new data structure gives us variety at the user level and uniformity beneath the surface,' says Staals. 'This uniformity means the entire data collection process is defined and automated in a central location, which enables us to manage privacy uniformly and securely. We have also witnessed a clear improvement in data quality.  At the user level, we can uniformly provide data to our staff, and our teams are becoming increasingly skilful in reporting and analysing data. They are able to find answers to their questions themselves, which saves us a huge amount of work.'

The Municipality of Venray is certain that if they hadn't developed this system, the situation would slowly have got out of control. 'Our data provision system was vulnerable,' says Staals. 'Firstly, our entire data provision process was dependent on a few specific staff. This cost us a great deal of time and was extremely risky as if someone was absent, everything ground to a halt. It also caused problems in relation to data security and privacy. For many years, spreadsheets were circulated within the organisation, and I cannot guarantee that the personal data contained was eventually deleted. This issue has now been completely resolved as data is fully anonymised by TimeXtender as soon as it enters the system. The business case for TimeXtender has been proven many times over thanks to the time saved on functional management, the vast improvement in data reliability and security, the ability of users to gain insight into all kinds of data at the touch of a button and the newly found flexibility of the organisation.'

 

'The business case for TimeXtender has been proven many times over thanks to the time saved on functional management, the vast improvement in data reliability and security and the ability of users to gain rapid insight into all kinds of data.'

Maurice Staals, Business Intelligence Specialist at the Municipality of Venray

 

Summary

About the Municipality of Venray 

The Municipality of Venray is a medium-sized municipality in the Netherlands with just under 44,000 residents.

Solution snapshot

  • Building a data foundation with TimeXtender to connect various data silos and give the right people secure access to the right information at the right time. 

Benefits

  • The municipality knows exactly what data is recorded and processed.
  • More complete and reliable data.
  • No more data needs to be loaded or retyped into Excel.
  • Internal and external data can be connected and combined.
  • The right data can be made available to the right person at any time.
  • Improved GDPR compliance.
  • Functional management allows more time to be spent on strategy rather than information requests.
  • Information provision is now fully automated and no longer dependent on one or two people.