5 years of Yesplan – interview with Johan & Andy
2Rivers was set up by Vooruit and Inceptive. Vooruit doesn’t need an introduction, but what is Inceptive exactly?
Johan: Inceptive was set up by three people who were working at the university at the time and were software specialists. The aim was to make planning software for Vooruit. We already knew each other well and were all keen to start something together. Making software for Vooruit was the specific reason. That was our first project. In the meantime Inceptive has become joint-owner of 2Rivers although we now have several other projects.
I’ve already heard you say that when you first saw the assignment from Vooruit, you thought “That will be simple, let’s do it quickly and earn a bit on the side”.
Andy: During the first meetings, we thought that Vooruit needed a kind of deluxe version of Google Calendar. As the meetings progressed we realised that there was a whole lot more to it than that. That’s when you realise that a huge amount goes on behind the scenes for event planning that laymen know nothing about, for example staff planning, cost analysis, resource management, etc.
What were the biggest challenges 5 years ago?
Andy: When we started with 2Rivers it was a huge challenge to work out how something that had been made for Vooruit, and that was completely tailored to them, could have a more general application.
What was the most unexpected thing that happened along the way?
Andy: Yesplan evolved from being a planning system that would be used by planners, to a kind of central database. Everyone enters all possible information regarding their operations, so as to exchange data more easily and facilitate cooperation. That’s totally different to how we imagined it in the beginning.
Which customer has surprised you the most up until now by the way in which they have utilised Yesplan, and in what way?
Johan: There is not one specific customer, but there are various customers who have done their own thing with the possibilities of the system. Without us having to tell them how they needed to approach the system, they have set up their own installations all by themselves. That’s when you see organisations really get stuck in to the possibilities of the system in a creative way. Yesplan is very dynamic and you can do a lot with it.
Andy: Like Vooruit, who built a Google Docs integration.
Johan: And there are a few other examples, like Maas Theater en Dans who connected Yesplan to their central heating system. But also Theater aan het Spui, De Werf, C-Mine, for example. They all immersed in the possibilities of Yesplan themselves and in the process saw new opportunities for their working method. That is a big surprise.
What kept you occupied 5 years ago and what are you doing now?
Andy: The general focus has remained the same – 5 years ago we knew that we needed to add new features and let the product grow. Additionally, there is now more emphasis on customer support and keeping infrastructures operational.
Johan: And 5 years ago, our team didn’t include the people who are part of it now, that’s definitely a big difference. The core tasks have remained the same though. Maybe everything seemed more straightforward back then. The more customers and employees that you have, the more complicated it gets.
Which challenges are still in the pipeline? Which trends does Yesplan need to be aware of?
Johan: The main trend which is important for us is visualising the information in Yesplan more, and more effectively, for example in reports, and making these available and storing them. And doing this across all devices.
Andy: that’s right, the unlocking of data is an important challenge. In reporting, but also via the integrations that people want to be able to build in themselves.
Where do you want Yesplan to be in 5 years’ time?
Johan: Worldwide of course (laughs). No, it would be nice if Yesplan has a bigger geographical market and an international development team within 5 years.
Andy: I agree. Additionally, I hope that by that time we have evolved to a self-explanatory product. For example using interactive documents, wizards, etc. That would make it easier for organisations to configure certain elements by themselves.
What is the best Yesplan anecdote?
Andy: On 1 April 2011, Google sent out a message that it would now be possible to use two mice in Google Chrome. Everyone sent the mail around internally here with the remark “coming soon to Yesplan”. Quite a few people fell for it. So much so that a CEO who shall remain nameless 😉 tried to sell this as a feature that would soon be part of Yesplan thanks to Google..
Johan: Another story is the purchase of the Nespresso coffee machine. This was preceded by two normal coffee machines, endless discussion and detailed lists of the pros and cons. In the end I just decided to go out and buy the machine. I think that the purchase of the coffee machine was the trickiest technical decision that we ever had to make at Yesplan…