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Port of Amsterdam

audit monitors quality of crucial application

“Port of Amsterdam is developing a business application for collecting its seaport dues. Reliability and accuracy of collection is crucial for us, which is why we want to keep a close eye on quality”

“the/experts are providing us with excellent help. With an ongoing audit, they monitor the quality of the delivered code as well as the surrounding processes throughout the project.”

John Engels is Head of IT Operations at Port of Amsterdam. He is a member of the steering committee that is having the seaport dues collection (ZHG) application (re)developed externally. The application has been around for a while, but is being redeveloped to be future-proof and with the latest technologies. The ZHG application controls a crucial revenue source for the port authority. “All seagoing vessels docking at the port have to pay seaport fees. Two rates are always calculated. The most advantageous rate is applied. For quite a few visits, a discount or exception situation applies. As a result, there is a considerable number of complex calculation rules (more than 100) on the basis of which the final tariff is determined.”

To ensure that this crucial application meets the Port of Amsterdam’s high standards, they engaged the/experts. These experts are auditing the project.

“the/experts audits both the process and the code for us.

They keep a close eye on the development of the application. In doing so, they look not only at what is being done, but also how it is being done. And this the/experts performs with an objective, expert and independent view”

Audit feedback delivers results
This produces results. For instance, the/experts came up with the feedback that the knowledge around the application needs to be better secured. On the Port of Amsterdam side, an external project manager and business analyst are involved. “That means we have to secure the knowledge they build up. Because when they leave the organisation, we will still need it.”

The fact that the/experts can independently, without any political hindrance, point Port of Amsterdam to certain (crucial) risks and convey its advice in a reasoned and added-value manner, adds value to Port of Amsterdam and the development of this application.

Critical review of delivered code
In addition to the overarching processes, the/experts also casts a highly critical eye on the delivered code. For Port of Amsterdam, this provides advice that allows them to make adjustments as early as during the development of the application. The external developer also benefits from this. John Engels:

“A fresh look from a professional outside the project provides other valuable qualitative insights. This is highly complementary to developers working on a project on a daily basis.”

“The information and insights that the/experts provides us can be used by the developers to fine-tune the code.”

Independent partner observes and gives advice
the/experts is monitoring as an independent party. “The comments we get from them are not politically coloured. You are clearly told what their findings are and what they base them on. This is well substantiated. You don’t have to steer by your own feelings, but get outside reports that say what is going on. In doing so, they also check whether company and market standards have been followed properly.”

Valuable addition to assure quality
For Port of Amsterdam, this is a very valuable addition to ensure the quality of this crucial application. “We already get improvement points during development. The/experts noted, for example, that all tests are carried out by the external supplier’s developers. They cannot properly see whether the application meets our wishes and requirements functionally. That is why we hired a functional tester from another external party. That in turn provides additional feedback and so the quality goes up further.” The advice to hire this tester from another external party was one of the/experts’ recommendations. This also safeguards the/experts’ independent position.

Added value for high-impact projects
The seaport money application will be delivered in the second half of 2022 and will go live on 1 January 2023. Application development at Port of Amsterdam will naturally continue.

For the big projects, John Engels sees serious added value in using audits. “I want audits on crucial projects to be included from the start. The earlier auditors can step in, the more benefit you get from their objective advice and expertise.”


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