How eHerkenning is managed behind the scenes
Marieke studied International Business & Management after which she began her career in Marketing & Finance. She didn’t find her place in this world, so, when one day she received an impromptu invitation from an IT company to have a ‘cup of coffee’, she accepted that invitation gladly. The thing is, Marieke had no knowledge of IT at all, but that didn’t seem to matter as it turned out to be the exciting start of a new career.
“You’re out of your depth!”
“After talking to them, with a lovely coffee, of course, they invited me to apply for the vacancy of Functional Consultant. They thought it was something for me, while I thought to myself, “you’re out of your mind, how can I possibly do this?!” My IT knowledge was limited to creating charts in Excel. In the end, I went to check it out anyway. I thought it would be a great challenge and so I decided to give it a crack. Initially, I worked with smaller assignments, and, as time went on, about two and a half years later I working as functional application manager at KLM.”
“As a Functional Consultant you are the ‘translator’ between the business and the IT realm. Usually, a business has development plans which must be carried out by an IT team. Unfortunately, they often don’t speak each other’s language, so to say. Business objectives must be converted into technical requirements, or tasks, that the IT team can pick up and process. Yet another part of the job is user management. When a new application comes out, you, together with the developers, have to ensure that it runs smoothly and that people understand how it works. Of course, this also involves as were, ‘need management’, and if you know what the needs are, you know to translate that into changes.”
IT but different
“So it’s not a standard IT job and the image of the standard IT nerd doesn’t apply here. Often Functional Consultant (at least me) don’t mind a good chat and we’re not afraid to voice an opinion. I really like the projects I work on and, if I get the chance, I’ll take ownership of them. Eventually, we all end up conversing in some way or another. We need to, because one person knows a lot about a particular subject, or at least give an opinion on it so I can also understand it better. Of course, there are plenty of Functional Consultant who prefer to sit behind their laptops for eight hours. I can, but I’m not like that. The social aspect and working with others is very important to me.”
After the time at KLM came the switch to LINKIT. Marieke: “My assignment ended and I didn’t really know what I wanted. Coincidentally, Boy (recruiter at LINKIT) came on the radar via LinkedIn at the time. When he asked me to have a cup of coffee I knew what I had to do. I looked at the website and read all the stories it contained. It seemed like a club, and that suits me well. Hard work, but also a lot of fun. It’s a smaller club, where you’re not a number and most people know each other. I had a nice conversation, got excited and then accepted the proposal.”
Marieke has since been on assignment at LOGIUS, a government organization, which handles and manages many of the digital businesses in the government. Marieke and her team are mainly working on the eHerkenning system, an authorization method between suppliers and the government.
“eHerkenning is not an application,” Marieke explains. “With eHerkenning, companies can safely log in to arrange business with the government online. Kind of like DigiD. That way, organizations know for sure that the company is who it says it is and can authorize necessary privileges. In addition, the company has the extra certainty that the websites it uses are reliable and safe. The higher the level of eHerkenning, the more sensitive information you can exchange as a company.”
The system of eHerkenning (public and private partnership) works with a so-called aggregator. Marieke: “In this, we manage, among other things, the Service Catalogue, which states which services (municipalities, etc.) are affiliated with which service provider. It also contains a network metadata file containing all URLs and certificates associated with the affiliated participants, plus the confidence levels they offer.”
Functional Consultant, but different
“This makes my job as Functional Manager at LOGIUS quite special”, Marieke continues. “Normally I work with applications that you know inside out, that you maintain and improve as much as possible. Some Functional Consultants do this for 15 applications at the same time. I work with a system, which can be complicated sometimes. However, I think that’s a nice challenge.”
“One of my most important tasks is safeguarding the aggregator. We confirm that all information it contains is in the right place, ensuring customers can use their eHerkenning resources and access the needed government application. It is very sensitive data, which also makes security extremely important in everything we do. Incident management and security, therefore, are a crucial part of the work.”
But this is not the only thing Marieke does to fill her working week.
” I have to wear many hats” she admits. “I maintain contact with the suppliers, I am Scrum Master and Product Owner at the same time in the development of the aggregator. I draw up reports, I am engaged in security checks, I am the chairman of the consultation of architects, the secretary of the consultation of Security Officers of suppliers and I am the incident manager. To this end, I coordinate and record incidents in the management system. So, if something really goes wrong, I’m one of the first to dive into the problem and make sure it’s resolved as soon as possible.”
The reason for her full schedule is clear. “Unfortunately, we are currently understaffed and finding a new colleague has not proved easy. Functional Consultants are still very scarce. Which is of course also the reason they hire me through LINKIT.”
“In addition to the aggregator, we use Confluence. That’s kind of the Holy Grail of the whole system. Everything we know about and manage within eHerkenning is in there. It’s a huge source of information. Kind of like Wikipedia. We also manage this system ourselves (e.g. user management). An exciting period is coming soon because these parts will soon move to a new platform via a migration. For now, that still requires a lot of preparation and research.”
In the meantime, I have been asked by my manager within Logius if I want to map the management of eHerkenning. Which platforms and processes are part of this? What is the current situation and what should the future look like? The latter is particularly interesting to me. In order to come to such a conclusion, I’ll have to do a thorough investigation. I try to collect as much information as possible from colleagues within eHerkenning but also from other departments in order to arrive at a well-founded plan, Super interesting and a great challenge to get!”
The government is not boring
Contrary to what Marieke had imagined, her work definitely isn’t the stereotype of the boring government job. “I, probably like many others, had an image of people in the government as dusty old clerks waiting for retirement. I’m sure there are some, as in any company, but certainly not in my department. I have a lot of people around me who want to make something beautiful out of their work and who love to pick up new projects. I certainly didn’t expect to get so many challenging projects to be honest. It’s really cool work, and I’m glad to be able to do this. In this respect, the government has far exceeded my expectations.”
“I have to say that it is also up to your own institution. You have to be open to new experiences and ideas. If you have that, you can achieve a lot in the government.”
Onwards and upwards?
If it’s up to Marieke, Logius is the perfect springboard to more challenges. “With all the cool projects I get to do, I can develop very well. I still find being Functional Consultant challenging, but I would also like to broaden my horizons further. I prefer to continue the process and business analysis. That is also the beauty of this profession. Within LINKIT we are a squad (team) all comprising of Functional Consultants, of which I am the mentor. At the moment we all work as Functional Managers, but almost all in a different direction and with a different growth path. As a Functional Manager you can develop in all directions and that makes it the ideal starting point if you want to take a first step in IT. As far as the government is concerned, as long as I have a good time here and beautiful challenges keep coming my way, I certainly won’t leave!”
Are you also interested in a job as a Functional Manager? Take a look at our Careerpage. Including a video of Marieke and a how-good-do-you-fit-at-LINKIT test. Do you need a Functional Manager within your company? Please contact one of our experts.