Almost every school headteacher draws up the budget for the new calendar year at the end of the year. The VGS Begroot application helps headteachers with this. This application is now being used by around 150 primary schools. Recently, the old and slow PHP application was transferred to Mendix. “The new application is faster, more flexible and very extensive,” says Sander den Hartog, financial advisor of the Association for Reformed School Education. “We now regularly receive messages from school headteachers who are very satisfied with the new tool”.
VGS Begroot has a long history. “We once started with Excel files, but we stopped that,” continues Sander. “You discovered you were using wrong version of Excel, or the document crashed. In 2012 the Excel files were converted to an online model. This PHP application was a big step forward, but we still couldn’t adjust calculations ourselves. Furthermore, the application was rather slow. Calculations were carried out over and over again, which meant that school headteachers had to wait for an unnecessarily long time”.
In 2020, VGS decided to revise the application extensively. “We investigated which company would suit us best. We already had experience with GDK Software. There was a good fit, partly based on the identity of GDK Software and our supporters”. It soon became apparent that the PHP application needed to be rebuilt into a new package. “In the end, we decided to go for Mendix. Mendix offers many advantages. Programmers can develop faster and we can easily make adjustments ourselves. Those advantages won us over.”
The final process was not entirely flawless. “At the beginning of 2020, we started development with the aim of having the model ready by the end of March, but in the end, the coronavirus crisis threw a spanner in the works,” says Sander. “Employees were working from home and that caused delays. Deadlines were postponed, so the application was finally launched in September. It then turned out that a more powerful machine had to be built under the model, because the application had difficulty with multiple users performing heavy calculations at the same time. I have to say that Director Kees de Kraker has solved that well. He took us seriously and put in the necessary evening hours to get the application up and running quickly”.
Sander den Hartog
Now there is an application which makes VGS ready for the future. “The most important advantage is the speed improvement. If a school headteacher performs a calculation now, this calculation will be added to the queue. A progress bar shows how far the calculations have progressed. This allows a headteacher to continue within the application without having to wait.”
Another positive point is that VGS can adjust formulae itself. “Our budget model is based on government calculation models. Amounts and models change regularly. We can now easily adjust formulae ourselves as we are not programmers. The Mendix environment clearly shows how a formula is built up and we can change the scheme or variable or add general ledger accounts. The user management also works very nicely.”
Finally, it is now easier for several schools under one administration to consolidate budgets. “Sometimes a board of governors has appointed staff from above school level and they have to be paid from somewhere. Schools then pay a contribution to the superstructure cost centre. That’s puzzling, but in our application directors now get a good picture of the situation. Additionally, despite heavy calculations, the model is not slow.”
It’s not just VGS that’s delighted with the new tool. Sander den Hartog has noticed that his users are also satisfied. “We get a lot of positive reactions from school headteachers. They indicate that we listen well and that a lot of feedback has been incorporated into the new model. Every week a positive mail comes in, without us explicitly asking for it”.
In the end Sander looks back with a positive feeling. “The involvement of GDK is great. There is a continuous drive to make the project a success. In addition, the lines of communication are short, so we are looking forward to further developing the application in the future, together with GDK. In this way, we want to make the model even broader and offer the possibility to further implement project budgets. We are looking forward to the next steps!