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Avanade helps Achmea develop faster, cheaper and more efficient portals with Microsoft SharePoint

Business Situation

Within Achmea, a large number of products are put on the market under various brand umbrellas, creating overlap between the products on offer. It may be the case, for instance, that several insurers offer online travel insurance. Achmea builds individual portals for each of its brands. These portals can be anything from recruitment pages to mini-campaigns or self-service sites via which customers can arrange their own insurance or request a quote.

The vast majority of these sites are built in the same way and offer the same functionalities, such as news feeds, social media integration and process automation. Previously, the design and build of these websites’ functional elements were decentralized and had to be done afresh each time, creating unnecessary duplication of work and high project costs. On reviewing the fundamental IT process, a key opportunity was identified to supply the generic website components, which could be used or reused for multiple sites.

"​We’re very proud to have a unique tool in the Portal Factory. The collaboration with the Avanade teams has had a positive effect on our internal teams. It’s been an inspiration and the experience has changed our way of working."

Eppo van der Plas Achmea Component Factory manager

Solution

The collaboration began in May 2012, with a view to: Increased efficiency, shorter time-to-market and cost efficiency through the reuse of generic components. Avanade and Achmea work side-by-side on the three main disciplines of design, component build and front-end/portal configuration. In identifying, developing and centrally treating as many generic components as possible, (brand-specific) websites can be built in significantly shorter time, at reduced cost and to higher quality.

Avanade provides Achmea with both onshore and near-shore capacities. What began as a single team in Bratislava grew to become three teams, encompassing more than thirty members of staff in Bratislava and another four in the Netherlands dedicated full-time to the Achmea account. Avanade Netherlands advises, guides and ensures consistency with the team in Bratislava. Here, devised components are built and maintained in line with the Scrum methodology, creating a real advantage for Achmea in terms of scalability. This arrangement puts a large team of experts at the company’s disposal as and when required, removing the burden of Achmea having to take on staff.

Results

The Portal Factory has been a real boost to efficiency. It has meant that, whenever a component is required for a portal, it’s just a case of configuration. The time-to-market on straightforward sites has fallen notably as a result: What previously was a period of six months from the concept stage to going live is now just three weeks. Since the introduction of the Component Factory, Achmea’s efficiency levels for the building of portals rose by 19 percent overall in 2013. Consequently, Achmea is in a position to significantly cut the costs of its online portals. “We’re very proud to have a unique tool in the Portal Factory. The collaboration with the Avanade teams has had a positive effect on our internal teams. It’s been an inspiration and the experience has changed our way of working,” says Eppo van der Plas, Achmea Component Factory manager. “The high quality of the generic components takes the professionalism, scalability and maintainability of our portals to another level. This is illustrated by the fact that SEO rankings of insurance sites across the board have risen and are easier to manage.”

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