developer training


By Frank

This week I will tell you something about the (SF) platform and the SF developer training my colleagues and I received. SF is a cloud based CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system and is leader in CRM system market. The system comes with a lot of out of the box functionality and is therefore relatively easy to setup.

First I was surprised that IBM was going to train us on how to develop a competitive CRM system, because IBM also has there own CRM systems. But as a Service Center we like to offer our clients a complete solution and SF is the biggest player out there. I don’t want to bore you with a lot of technical information concerning SF and rather tell you something about the training we received.

In our third week of working at the ISC Groningen we received a SF developer training. The training took place in the IBM office in Frankfurt and so our first business/education trip became reality. Not knowing what to expect we arrived at one of the IBM offices in Frankfurt, where we were introduced to our trainer, Rob Goodman. Rob is an independent SF consultant and was going to teach us the ins and outs of the SF System. Together with colleagues from the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Germany our SF training kicked off.

What started as a sales pitch, (Rob Goodman was clearly very passionate about SF) soon turned in to a nice introduction of the SF system. I was surprised about the ease of use and about what could be accomplished with just point and click. The following days we explored almost all the areas of the SF system and at the end of the week we felt confident that we could pass the developer exam and become certified SF developers.

Next to the knowledge and skills we gained during the training we also improved as a team. In our spare time we visited the great city center of Frankfurt and really got to know each other. The World cup was still in the group phase (the Netherlands just crushed Spain) and we watched several matches on one of the many terraces Frankfurt has.

Overall it was a good week!! We learned a great deal about SF and had a lot of fun in the meantime.

The team in Frankfurt

An examination of your website’s effectiveness… for free


By Albert Martijn

Yes, you read that right. A free web user experience analysis. Introduced in 2010, the IBM Services grants enables non-profit organizations to enhance their IT infrastructure, their leadership and technology skills. The solutions were developed with not-for-profit partners and designed to help them enhance their ability to serve IBM’s communities.

Web user experience analysis
This grant is designed to help an organization evaluate the user experience of one website —typically its primary site— and determine possible approaches to improving it. IBM consultants evaluate the effectiveness of the site’s branding, look and feel, navigation, and content. IBM reviews the evaluation as well as the findings of an user survey, presents best practices and comparisons with similar sites, and provides recommendations for improving targeted areas of the website.

Value proposition
An organization’s website can significantly impact how stakeholders perceive the organization. IBM consultants will review the results of their assessment of several aspects of the website’s overall user experience, and will then take into account best practices and comparable websites in devising recommendations for improvement. The team will also discuss the findings of the user surveys and of questionnaires that the organization has completed.

Doing right by the world
When one of the largest non-profit organizations in the world came along and was interested in such an analysis, a colleague jumped at the opportunity to show them the capabilities of the ISC. His enthusiasm was contagious and before I knew it, we were visiting the organization’s Dutch headquarters in The Hague. We we’re immediately amazed by how much this organization is doing for the betterment of mankind: that in itself gave an extra boost in motivation to do right by them. If we successfully apply our skills and expertise, the organization is able to reach their goals in an even more successful way, and with that, help our world.

And how often can you say your project is contributing to end world hunger?

So far, so good..


By Nuria

I am a new IBMer at the ISC, this being my fourth week. I want to tell you a little about myself and my first feelings and impressions during these weeks.

As the title of this blogpost says: so far, so good! I would like to explain some things about myself. I have no experience in working in IT, but I do have experience in working in other sectors in my home country, Spain. Also it is worth to mention that I studied Business Administration… Why do I tell you this, you may wonder..It is inevitable for me to compare my previous experiences to my new experience becoming a developer. By the way, I find it very exciting to become a developer!

Most of what I have experienced these four weeks is pretty different from my previous experiences, but I must say, I like it! For example, our work area is an open space, where you can freely choose where to sit. This allows you to interact with the team, and teaming is crucial at IBM. Now let me share with you my favourite place in the office… the “Atrium”(see the pictures below) where we usually have our lunch break, and it invites you to get out of the regular office. Then, this can give you a first impression about the atmosphere at the IBM Services Center. Also I would like to mention that networking is highly important at the company and from what I´ve heard it may be very useful in the near future when you´re looking for help and cooperation. In addition, I have noticed that communications between IBMers all over the world are much more an eveyday thing then I at first thought. For instance, we are receiving training at the moment, which will continue for at least some weeks. The courses are given by people from other countries such as Romania, Germany and Switzerland. In my opinion, this is very positive because not only do you learn from their experience, but also the trainers help you in several ways: It allows you to have a global perspective of IBM, get a general technical knowledge, learn how to behave as an IBMer and finally to specialise in order to become a good developer. In other words, a completed necessary welcome!

Consequently I can just say I feel good….♪♫♪♫

ISC Groningen, IBM ISC Groningen, IBM

Emergency Response Officers


By Malissa

This week I’m going to tell you about my new experiences at the IBM Services Center in Groningen. As I’ve told before: I’m working on a project for the government, but instead of going on about that I’m going to tell you more about our “extracurricular” activities.

Next to our project activities we have the choice to join different Committees. Examples of these committees are the Communication Committee, the Education Committee and the Emergency Response Officers. I joined the Emergency Response Officers (or in Dutch Bedrijfshulpverlening).

Currently we’re busy with the first part of our training: the first aid training. During this first part of the training we are learning CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), wound care and other first aid things. After this we will get trained in what to do in case of a fire and some evacuation training. During training we have a lot of fun, but it’s serious business and sometimes hard work. Personally I think it is important to know what to do when something happens. While following this training I have come to think it would be good for everybody to get at least a CPR course. You can save someone’s life!

bhv, isc, ibm services center, groningen, ibm

First week with new colleagues


by Albert Hristov

Here I am, in my second week at the ISC and I am writing my first blog post.

I would like to share my experience with all of you and tell you how happy the ISC makes me feel. First of all I love the colleagues and the atmosphere in the office! It is great to meet new colleagues and freely discuss about (?) various topics and help each other when in need. The corporate culture of IBM helps you to integrate seamlessly in the team and feel at home right away. From the very first day at the ISC, I felt different from any other place I have ever worked in and it just feels right.

We started as a group of 12 people with various backgrounds and nationalities, which doesn’t interfere at all with our current activities but on the contrary – it brings that much more joy in the office, and got to know each other. Language is never a barrier since everyone speaks fluent English throughout the organization, which ensures that you can communicate flawlessly with each other.

Currently we are still ‘In Training’ and everyday we learn something new and work as a team to support each other when we have questions. Even though we don’t have any real work related projects, the days at the office are not boring and there is always something to do to improve your current skills and expertise which will serve you and the client better.

I am convinced that anyone with the motivation to work hard and wants to change the face of tomorrow, should apply at the ISC to work in a great inspirational atmosphere and conquer new horizons with innovative projects! Just ‘Think!‘ of the possibilities!

ibm new group

A well-known fashion brand hiring ISC’ers for WebSphere development and testing


By Johan

At the end of January I was contacted by my manager to join the project team for Websphere testing in March. I’ve done that before at a big Dutch company, so I already had some experience. Rutger and Evelyn would complete team Groningen as developers.

Mid-March the first meeting was at Leidseplein Amsterdam. Evelyn, Rutger and I joined the rest of the team. During the first week we started working on the test scripts, using the given requirements. During the first period we all, testers and developers alike, had to start with testing. This was a new experience for our developers, but it went very well.

At the end of March Paul joined the team. He started as a replacement for team members who were on holiday, but he became an important member for the test team and he was added to the standard test group to make testing go faster.

We’re using Agile and Scrum methods meaning, we meet up at the start of each day and talk through what we’ve done, which problems we’re facing and what to do that day. Also we work in sprints and requirements can be changed during development. For me the Scrum training, where Jasleen told you about in her blog post, was quite an eye-opener. I hadn´t realised how much we were actually using Agile methods. During a project you learn to use it.

A question my friends often ask is, “What are you doing in the evenings when you’re in an other city?” Well, for me it’s mostly fitness exercises and just internetting in my room. I’ve also cycled through Amsterdam, as you can hire bicycles at the hotel, and of course in the evening it’s dinner time. Searching for a restaurant can take some time, and in fact there’s plenty of time to walk around and search for a restaurant we like. When there’s a football match on at night, we just go into a pub and watch it there with together. There’s just plenty to do in Amsterdam and the hotel almost feels like home.

For team Groningen the project continues until the end of September, so during the coming months we will complete testing for release 1.

Change Management


By Josje

Already over half an year has passed since I started working for a project at Shell in Rijswijk. The hotel almost feels like home by now :). I thought this would be a good time to share something with you about my project and the things I’m working on.

The colleagues who already told you about their role within a project are for example working as a Developer, Tester, Deployment Consultant, Project Management Officer or Team Lead. As diverse as the roles are within our projects, my role is again something else. It relates more to change management. Change management is an important factor within our projects, for every time an application or new release is implemented within a company, people have to change their way of working and learn how to use another application. Needless to say, it is very important that the people who are impacted by such a change are well informed and where possible involved in this shift, a process of change which needs to be managed.

My main task at this moment is to create training materials for the applications we’re working on. These applications will be used by a lot of people all around the world and will have a large impact on their way of working. Therefore it’s important to explain to them why the choice is made to implement these applications, what the benefits are and in what way the applications will help them to perform their tasks. Next to this high overview information, the use of the applications is explained in detail, in order to enable the end users to adapt to the applications as smoothly as possible.

As you can see there are a lot of job roles within IBM. All these roles are important pieces of the puzzle, together they give value to the solutions IBM brings to her clients.

An Agile mind!


By Jasleen

Its been a while since my last blog post. The only thing that has changed since then is ‘my experience’ and all I can say to sum it up in one word is – exciting.

I have grown in terms of the newly acquired technical skill of Mendix: doing a few production releases (in the middle of the nights), getting a first hand experience on project transitions, working closely with the business on requirements and user acceptance testing, guiding the offshore team by a giving them a knowledge transfer, dealing with the client and giving them a good customer experience. The list is (if not endless) long.

Next to fitting all this into a day’s work, I have been working on documentation as well. Being in a support project can sometimes be really challenging, from getting no time to even have lunch to sometimes having ample time to pursue stuff that you like and would help you grow in your career. Despite being very tight with my schedule (as my project is not in a steady state yet), I managed to take some time out and attended the Scrum training for 2 days in Groningen by a very experienced trainer from Denmark – Annette along with Erwin and Thijs from ISC. Perks of being a part of ISC-Groningen – some of us get to organise trainings and most of us get to attend it ;)

The training was important for me as I already work with a tool that follows Agile development practices. Annette has been facilitating these trainings since 2006 and has also tailored the Aglie-Scrum practice for IBM. The training was fun and very interactive with a lot of demo Scrum activities and mock sprints to deliver paper planes :D

Here is a quick peek of our Agile-Scrum training..



IBM is everywhere: random fact about IBM in daily life


Mad Men, IBM, IBM's first computer

One of the funniest things about working at IBM is the reminder of IBM in daily life. One of our colleagues bumped into IBM’s Ireland office when he was on holiday. And Mad Men fans will see the IBM’s mainframe computer, the System/360, installed at Sterling Cooper and Partners in this Sunday’s episode 4 of season 7.

IBM’s computer, featured in Mad Men, was designed for specific commercial or scientific uses and got orders for more than 1,000 computers during the first month of release in 1964. Another 1,000 before half a year had passed followed up. No wonder this computer has been used in the latest episode of a succesfull series that is known mainly of the carefull selection of products from the decade the series takes place.

More about the S/360 in Mad Men can be read over here:

My new role in Project Management


By Mariela

As some of you dear readers might still know, I was not the most experienced programmer hired by the ISC. In fact, I was quite uncertain about my technical skills. As time passed by, I became more confident. Nonetheless, as you can see in my former blog post, I did not have the most brilliant first project interview. In fact, I did not get the project.

After a couple of weeks of feeling rather down about this professional rejection,my manager told me I was invited to an interview for a different project in Amersfoort. I was requested to go there the following Monday, and to bring my suitcase just in case I had to begin immediately and stay on site during the entire week. The warning was absolutely accurate, I was asked to stay, and since then I have been living in a hotel on the project site during the week. Hence, I can say this interview went much better. :)

My new, temporary, role is PMO (Project Management Officer). During the interview I was told that this position is rather administrative instead of technical. On one hand this gave me a feeling of relief, because I don’t have much technical experience, whereas on the other hand it made me a bit scared because I thought I wouldn’t be able to maintain my programming skills on this project. Fortunately, I have realised that even though I am performing an administrative job, being within a technical project means having an overview of everything including all the technical details.

I have had some previous experiences working in administrative functions, but none have ever been so challenging as my current role. We are beating the odds by carrying out a software update in 5 months, instead of the normally advised 12 months. With a team of 8 IBMers from the Netherlands,10 ISCers, 27 IBMers from India off site and two colleagues from India on site, we are doing the unexpected; and the stakes are high.

Even though my programming experience is temporarily paused, I am pleased to tell you that I am learning a lot about the much larger picture of IT. This is really helping me in understanding how the different elements are related to each other. Furthermore, I was also very happy to hear that within the ISC the possibilities keep growing. I initially thought I could only work as a programmer, whereas now I am sharing an office with 2 project managers, who I am assisting in the entire project planning and processes.

I shall be finished with this project in one month. Although challenges and issues, as in most projects, keep appearing on a daily basis, we are still expecting to fulfill our promise to the client and deliver on the desired date. So, hopefully on my next blog post I will have an even greater success-story.