The need for change

FOD Mobiliteit is responsible for all things transport-related in Belgium, from boats and trains to cars and planes. As such, they regularly produce new applications to help both the government and local residents in their daily tasks. For a long time they relied on Lotus Domino to get the job done, but after many years of stagnation the platform was eventually no longer strategically relevant for FOD Mobiliteit, leaving them in need of a shiny new development tool.

What to do? After some research and internal discussion, ICT Director Jorgen Colsoul and his colleagues decided to put a few different solutions to the test, literally. They contacted 5 potential suppliers and gave them each 24 hours to build a solution, then iterated on their demands during a live workshop to see just how agile and efficient each tool was on the spot. Mendix was victorious, and from there FOD Mobiliteit partnered up with Apvine to help them advance in their low-code adventure.

Low-code in action

While the original idea was simply to replace existing apps using low-code, FOD Mobiliteit quickly saw how easy and efficient it was to upgrade and expand on previous applications, adding new functionalities and improving user experiences. During their pilot year we helped bring several new apps to the market, many of which revolved around licenses and other certification needed for ship crews.

One particular app we created with FOD Mobiliteit is the ICC app, a streamlined system for managing requests and conversions of local (Belgian) boating licenses to international licenses. We swapped out the old system of shared pdfs and the trusty old postal service for digital logs and automation. The initial release had a tight deadline, but was a great success nonetheless, and we’re now iterating on version 2.0 to add more functionality.

Another low-code win we were able to bring to FOD Mobiliteit across a range of their applications revolves around eID photo scraping. A constant issue with many official online forms and applications is supplying an appropriate photo that meets all requirements (sit up, eyes open, no smiling!). And yet almost everyone has a perfectly good (and officially approved) photo on their eID or passport, so we created a plugin that automatically scrapes that image and applies it to whatever form necessary - simple and effective.

Where to now

FOD Mobiliteit is undergoing an agile transformation. Product owners, scrum methodologies and sprints are all part of their new approach to development. With this in mind they see a bright future for low-code within their organisation, but are also aware of a few potential challenges along the way. For example:

  • Convincing traditional developers of low-code’s legitimacy often takes a little time.
  • Ensuring a smooth user experience across different apps built with different development platforms can be challenging.
  • There is also the issue of vendor lock-in and the danger of putting all your apps in one basket.

Nonetheless, the agility, collaboration, security, speed and ease of use that Mendix offers FOD Mobiliteit far outweigh any of their concerns. As more people within both their business and IT teams use Mendix solutions, their love for low-code grows.

Learn more about FOD Mobiliteit.