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11 June 2020

Yes We Help

With our projects and solutions we offer added value for our customers. The appreciation you get for helping out on a problem or for example streamlining a process is very satisfying. But every now and then you come across something that boosts your energy, because you can really make a difference. Such a project is the “Yes we help” project. Erwin ‘t Hoen and Micha Friede talk about their experiences.

How did you get involved in this project?

Erwin: “I came across the appeal for the ‘Yes We Help’ application on the Mendix Community channel. After reading the post, this seemed a great opportunity to contribute to a solution for the crisis in which the world now finds itself. Connections were quickly set up and it was clear in no time that a relaunch of a proof of concept, made by a group of enthusiastic people within Siemens, would be feasible.”

Micha: “This is where you can see the power of a community and the use of various social media platforms. I responded to a post on LinkedIn and the next day I was already part of the team.”

How was the project formed initially?

Erwin: “For a hackathon, issued by the German government, a couple of Siemens ‘rebels’ picked up the gauntlet and started to master the Mendix platform. They started building a ticketing system in which the demand for help and supply can be matched. They quickly discovered that they had reached the limits to their Mendix knowledge during this hackathon and started looking for expertise in this area.” Micha: “Because the project members come from different organizations and different countries and vary from highly experienced to starters, I thought it would be good to use our Smart Digital Factory, or at least ACR to ensure the uniformity in development and to make sure we would conform to best practices.

What kind of application is Yes we help?

Micha: “Like Erwin said, the first idea was an application that could link supply and demand during the corona crisis. Looking for inspiration we came across numerous existing initiatives; neighborhood websites, Facebook groups, etc. sprouting out of the ground like mushrooms. In addition, talking to other parties (such as supermarket chain Rewe) it became clear that there are many ideas on what such an application could or should offer. In order not to be bogged down in the huge range of covid apps or to offer many half-functions, it was decided to mark our time and make room for reflection on the message we wanted to send out. With a more targeted campaign we could draw a wider attention to the application and create a long-term solution.”

Erwin: “This quickly widened and the idea was to come up with an application that could always help with any disaster. At that moment we as a team came to the conclusion that we are actually the infrastructure provider for those situations where groups of people need help matching demand and supply.”

Micha: “This also means that in addition to paying attention to the vision, the brand and the marketing, we have to think about support, setting up a legal framework and long-term financing.”

Erwin: “Which lead to a quickly expanding team where next to Mendix developers we now also have project managers, UX/UI specialists and even lawyers. A beta release of the app and website have been launched and in the meantime a Dutch foundation has been established from which, in time,  the support for this infrastructure can be managed”

What is your personal motivation to participate?

Erwin: “I really enjoy helping people forward with regards to the Mendix platform. There is nothing more exciting than developing an application in free format while taking people on a Mendix journey.
From a personal point of view, I find it interesting to see how we can get a group of people that is so widely scattered working together. What started as a German-Dutch collaboration now extended to people from the USA, Curacao and the UK. There are some smaller groups that already knew each other, but people in these groups didn’t know the other groups. It’s a nice challenge to see how you can keep everyone working with the same goals in mind, while doing all this as pure charity work. The dynamism of this team is quite unique and differs from any customer projects.”

Micha: “What started off as a small project I could spend some time on outside my regular work, and what I also saw as an opportunity to familiarize Siemens with our Smart Digital Factory, slowly started to get under my skin. It is remarkable to see how help comes from all kind of different backgrounds and expertise and how a network can be used to achieve something like this. The corona app hype will pass, but I expect there will be a long lasting demand to ask for help and to offer it through a simple and easily accessible platform. It is great to be a part of this and I’m even thinking whether I could do something in the foundation.”

Erwin: “The cooperation with Mendix is fantastic considering the fact that they support us with a free Mendix cloud environment. At this moment we are approaching the first release of the MVP with great features and we are looking for some kind of launching customer, but we are also looking further into a collaboration with the UN and WHO. Who knows where all this will lead and how many people around the world we can help here, given this potential impact of this work, I think it’s great to put a lot of time and effort into making the world a little bit better digitally and innovatively.”

If you want to learn more please visit the Foundation’s LinkedIn page https://www.linkedin.com/company/stichting-yes-we-help/

Or feel free to contact Erwin or Micha directly:

Micha Friede

Erwin ‘t Hoen