Collaboration CoNet and VX Company – Partners in IT

CoNet and VX Company have entered into a long-term collaboration in the field of software development and management. "We have always made tools en developed applications and implemented them successfully with clients," says Eric Bakker of CoNet. "But everyone did it in their own way. It was time to professionalise this process. VX Company is the perfect partner for us to achieve this together.”

CoNet is the party in the field of industrial automation, which really is another world compared to software development. "But we’ve always done this at CoNet," says Eric Bakker. "All we do for our customers is custom work. If a project requires a custom solution in the form of a tool or application that is not available, or turns out to be relatively expensive or not user-friendly, our engineers simply make it themselves. Our customers are very satisfied with this. Recently however, we have developed a number of tools that are also interesting for other users. And then you come to a point where you ask yourself: are we going to specialise in IT ourselves or are we going to hire a specialist?”

“Developments in IT are very rapid. Industrial automation is slowing down. But IT is unmistakably entering the industry, and we are growing closer together. We won't be able to match the level of a company like VX Company very quickly: VX has the specialists; they have the knowledge. It is therefore time to enter into an in-depth collaboration.”

CoNet took its time to choose the right partner. "We entered two routes with two possible partners. In doing so, we looked at flexibility, corporate culture, working methods and communication. Industrial automation really is a different ball game. We thought it was very important for our partner to understand what we were doing and how this world works. VX Company listened carefully, their corporate culture was in line with ours and they came up with useful solutions. That is why we chose VX Company.”

VX Company is the partner in the field of business applications and data. Martijn Duiveman is a Solution Architect and developer at VX. "It was clear to us quite quickly what CoNet wanted," he says. "It's true that most CoNet engineers are perfectly capable of developing software tools and applications. But everyone did it from the perspective of their own background. An unambiguous way of working, both in terms of software development and in terms of the tooling used, ensures better controllability. In short: the creation of applications had to be standardized. First, we introduced a development environment based on Visual Studio Team Services, a Microsoft product. This helps us to ensure code quality and automate an application's rollout to the customer.”

Martijn: “Apart from tooling, collaboration comes first. We really do it together. We listened carefully to the engineers. What are their obstacles? How do they proceed? What do they need? Our task was to then facilitate the development process. We are still in the early stages of this process. The engineers are now working on creating new software. In other words, they write the codes and the testing. They also review each other's codes to check each other's work and learn from each other. Ultimately, the investment made in process improvement and tooling ensures faster implementation for the customer, user-friendly interface, faster time-to-market, quicker resolution of any bugs and, of course, the fact that all CoNet engineers can work with them.”

Eric: “We sell a product and we guarantee that it works well and that it continues to work well. There was always a certain risk in developing our custom tool or application. Suppose there was a problem with it and the person who wrote the software was abroad or was sick? The problem would then have remained unresolved for longer than strictly necessary. We no longer have this uncertainty. We guarantee support 24/7 and thanks to the standardisation we can live up to that more easily.”

The cooperation with VX Company is a long-term commitment. Eric: "We are not a customer, we are building a long-term relationship. It’s not only a matter of implementing the development environment, but also of continuous training of our engineers and secondment. If we experience shortage, we can call in external parties from the VX Company, making us more flexible in capacity which gives us a lot of certainty, also for our customers.”

And what do the CoNet engineers think of this? Eric: "The playing field has become much more interesting for them. In addition to industrial automation and software, an extra dimension has been added. For example, we are currently busy with linking to the cloud. This is, of course, super handy for international companies. The knowledge is in the cloud and can be used from anywhere in the world. In this way, we can serve customers in different parts of the world. Many engineers find these developments very interesting. We notice that everyone is very eager. In any case, you see that technical people need it in order to continue to develop. That's just in their nature. In that respect, they can indulge themselves at CoNet. This is a collaboration in which two worlds come together, which is a unique experience. All the more so because we can now serve our customers even better and more efficiently.”

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