How do you become agile in the public sector?

Customer’s success story: Interact

Until 2027, the EU will fund projects with 8 billion euros in order to strengthen European Territorial Cooperation (ETC). More than 100 Interreg programmes will handle the calls for application and funding allocation according to regional andcontent-related priorities. Our customer, Interact, supports these Interreg programmes in funding management and communication with its respective projects. Cloudflight is developing a harmonized online platform to electronically manage the entire funding cycle.

Find out what benefits Interact sees in working with Cloudflight and how our software development team provides customized agile solutions for the public sector!  

Interact is an EU programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund and was launched back in 2002 to support European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) cooperation programmes in funding management. Interact is a decentralized organization with horizontal team structures.

“Out of 50 employees in Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), Viborg (Denmark), Valencia (Spain), and Turku (Finland), 14 work in the Vienna office – six of these work for Jems, the software we develop together with Cloudflight,” says Aija Prince, project manager at Interact as she introduces her team.

The entire funding cycle in one tool

The Joint Electronic Monitoring System (Jems) allows Interreg programmes to manage the full funding process electronically and to maintain direct contact with funded projects. In Jems, these programmes create tenders for application. The applicants then enter all necessary project data, and the projects submitted go through a defined evaluation process. Of course, every decision is recorded in order to ensure legal security and subsequent traceability. Subsidized projects receive a funding contract and commit themselves to regular reports to demonstrate project progress as well as successes and costs. From the initial application to the completion of the project, every phase is monitored in Jems.

Jems thus improves collaboration between Interreg programmes and subsidized projects, thereby creating transparency. The programs save time and money when processing applications and supervising ongoing projects as well as in the individual software development. In addition, Jems provides the assurance of complying with the legal requirements of the regulatory authorities for comprehensible and fair funding allocation.

Any programme interested in using Jems can contact the Interact team for a free license. Many are successful; about one-third of the approximately 100 Interreg programmes will acquire licenses for the upcoming funding period.

Supporting harmonization

Jems is based on the collective knowledge of Interreg. Through years of highly engaged work by Interact and a group of dedicated programmes, previously disparate processes have been gradually harmonized. Harmonized Implementation Tools (HIT) serve as the basis for Jems and facilitate the work of applicants and programmes alike (e.g., through a standardized application form).

“Applicants submitting project applications with Jems have a better understanding of the system, because it is used by many programmes and builds on the experience of Interreg programmes and their projects. This ultimately improves usability,” says Aija, emphasizing the benefits of Jems.

Satisfied customer – good cooperation

Cloudflight develops Jems based on the prioritization and requirements analysis that Interact develops in close contact with Interreg programmes and then coordinates with Cloudflight.

“Our collaboration with Cloudflight started at the beginning of 2020. We have thus been developing Jems for over a year now. For good cooperation, it is quite helpful that the young and motivated development team is dedicated and enthusiastic about the project. Cloudflight is innovative in its working approaches – the team believes in agile principles and works in an agile way,” says Aija. “For our project, this approach is crucial because we take into account a lot of stakeholder needs and provide functionality as needed. Close collaboration within the team is highly valued and is also essential for success,” she adds.

We understand agile principles and work according to them

Together with the Interreg programmes, Interact is working intensively on the roadmap for further software development. Agile principles help to combine long-term project planning with short-term flexibility. This is the only way Jems can meet the needs of all stakeholders.

“The agile approach has the advantage of being able to react quickly to changing priorities in development,” explains Aija. “A reliable two-week cycle for developing and deploying new features allows users to see progress in short intervals and encourages regular feedback. The agile approach makes us flexible enough to respond to user needs at every stage of the process and make necessary adjustments – even at short notice.”

Feedback as a guide

Intensive contact with the users of Jems is another success factor. The development team is in frequent direct contact with Interreg programmes, and interested stakeholders have permanent access to the current development status in order to evaluate Jems at any time. This all happens on freely accessible test sites and with their own infrastructure.

“There are programmes that have already installed early releases in their local environments and have given us positive feedback on the performance,” reveals Aija. “We get positive feedback about the features we have developed. In general, users are satisfied with the usability of the system and appreciate the improvements. The user tests we regularly conduct also provide us with good insight into how users perceive the system and what improvements can still be made in terms of usability. Although the programmes are satisfied to be able to open the first calls in the system when needed, there are still ongoing concerns about the speed of its development. The timeline of when programmes need certain features in the system is tight. And they appreciate the quick delivery of prioritized features.”

The future of Jems

“The project is quite complex. With the current team size, it can be a challenge to keep everyone informed about the big picture as well as upcoming features,” says the project manager. “Thanks to the great cooperation with Cloudflight, we manage to keep both perspectives in mind at the same time. Working with a great number of stakeholders is also challenging. Although we want to listen to everyone’s needs, we have to subject every request to the realities of budget and schedule. But in this partnership, we manage to do that quite well. We solve tasks with Cloudflight collaboratively as a team and are continually finding more improvements in internal communication as well as in our processes”.

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