“Our app will become our main channel”

“Delivering results as a team, using the right tool at the right time; it never gets old.” In short, that’s what Jeroen Leenarts (40) loves about his job. He is part of the team working on the iOS app for Centraal Beheer, a subsidiary of Achmea, the largest insurance company in the Netherlands. You can read more about it in his blog.

“People sometimes ask, ‘how important can an app be?’ Well, I fully expect the Centraal Beheer app to become our main channel for all contact with existing and new customers, which says something about the importance of the current and future needs of our customers and business. We need to know their needs and support them as much as possible through the app. Obviously, an app always presents the technical challenge of developing new and existing functionality. It’s a challenge we face every day. The app is growing in size, complexity and diversity. To ensure that the app can actually grow and doesn’t get stuck in its own history and complexity, we must renew “the old” in the code on time.

Making the app indispensable

I’ve watched the app grow. When I started working as an app developer, the app was just starting to gain traction at Centraal Beheer. Now, the app is a priority. The next step is to make it indispensable. That asks a lot of the team. We need to develop a large amount of functionality with a relatively small group of people. We need to make the app truly indispensable for our users, so we are constantly adding new functionality; things like viewing or changing a policy. We also have to keep up with the development platforms (iOS and Android), which adds complexity as our codebase grows larger and more diverse. We try to tackle that extra complexity at a higher level, in the architecture and the domain, before bringing it to the teams as bite-sized chunks.

Teamwork and the right tools determine success

I am a team player. The people I work with make my job great. I do regularly need a technical challenge to sink my teeth into but delivering results as a team never gets old. It’s also about how we do it: open and critical. No matter how good you work together in an amazing team, you can only achieve results with the right tools, and we’re all set in the tool department. We work with Azure DevOPS process tools. We communicate with Slack, email and Skype. We use Sketch and Figma for designing. We would be nowhere without the necessary development tools: Xcode, iOS SDK, Swift, Cocoapods, Appcode, and Objective-C. The right tool at the right time. That is a greatest personal challenge for me. To get that right, I need to coach, lead and decide at the right time. The trick is figuring out when that is. We also have a new challenge ahead of us as a team. Our project structure has changed; we switched from platform teams to feature teams. Instead of working with a group of people focused on a single platform, iOS or Android, we now work in a feature-oriented structure with three multi-disciplinary teams; designers, testers and developers working together on part of a functionality. This has consequences for the cooperation and codebase structure. All of this points to one thing: the importance of the app is growing, and our visibility, impact and the size of our team is growing with it.☺

Large organisation with plenty of possibilities

A lot is possible at Achmea. I often have to explain that, as Achmea is large and therefore seen as sluggish. I’m not gonna lie, Achmea is an organisation with rules and timelines, and they don’t always make you happy. But if you can work with that, the possibilities within Achmea are virtually endless, including breaking the established rules and timelines. Technically, there are plenty of complex issues to sink your teeth into. On their own, most of the screens in the app aren’t complicated, but it’s the sheer number and diversity of functionalities that make it so extraordinary. As an app developer, this job offers everything you could wish for.”

This blog was all about Jeroen’s work as an iOS app developer. If you would like to learn more about his job and working at Achmea, read the duo interview with Jeroen and his colleague Hylke Bron. 

App developer at Achmea