The data landscape at Waterschap Aa en Maas is more than satisfactory: from the moment they turn on the tap, data flows abundantly throughout the entire organization. To make data-driven decisions, these data streams need to be managed effectively. For the necessary overview and organization, they enlist the help of Pipple.

A good idea? Let’s go! Growth at Waterschap Aa en Maas is a grateful and organic process. As soon as the management appoints a pioneer to drive data applications, initiatives sprout up like mushrooms. A data lab is set up, and after 5 years, more than thirty data professionals roam the corridors. There’s no shortage of energy, but amidst the hustle and bustle, knowledge risks becoming fragmented.

Missing structures

To counteract this, Aa en Maas centralizes data and information provision. But that’s not enough. According to Peter Verlaan, director at Aa en Maas, the success of a team in utilizing data often depends on the competencies of individuals. “We weren’t clear on which links and structures were missing to allow data to flow better through the organization. That’s why we turned to Pipple for advice.”

DELTA model

Pipple applies Davenport’s DELTA model, which states that five pillars are essential for working with data: Data, Enterprise, Leadership, Targets, and Analytics. If one pillar is not working well, the whole framework collapses. Pipple assesses the status of each pillar within Aa en Maas, analyzing strengths and weaknesses and presenting a roadmap for the next steps the water board can take.

Speaking the same language

Given the digital transformation at Aa en Maas, Verlaan considers the employee interviews conducted by Pipple as one of the greatest benefits of the collaboration. “It was as if their advisors opened a valve. They spoke the same language as our professionals. They knew: this person will include my ideas in the report, and someone in a position to actually do something will read it. This led to insights and connections that wouldn’t have surfaced as quickly if we had only conducted our own research.”


Verlaan mentions some interesting insights that emerged during the process. “Data products that were built weren’t all being used. Our experts had worked hard to build dashboards for the business, but it turned out that some of them were not being used or barely used. Apparently, these solutions didn’t address the real problem or didn’t fulfill the need adequately. This led to the conclusion that we need to better understand the customer’s demand and translate it into a data or information issue. Pipple also got us thinking about our data platform. We had partly outsourced it. But is it wise to entrust something so vital to our decision-support systems to someone else?”

Concrete roadmap

The roadmap provided by Pipple contains concrete recommendations, presented in an actionable plan that is understandable and clear for everyone in the organization. It covers:

  • the necessary roles and responsibilities
  • required competencies
  • the issues within Aa en Maas that can be addressed with data solutions
  • an action plan

Tailored approach

“Pipple has succeeded in connecting the predominantly red-yellow world of Aa en Maas with a touch of blue,” says Verlaan. It wasn’t always easy. “Pipple excels in logical thinking: they talk a lot about logical relationships, facts, agreements, and rules. But we are a politically governed organization. The context in which we advise is not always rational. Our strength lies in being highly adaptable and allowing for organic growth. A very rigid organization doesn’t suit us. Our worlds clashed occasionally during the advisory process, leading to discussions that were sometimes quite intense. But Pipple turned that friction into brilliance. They gradually shifted to a mode that suited us better, perhaps even beyond their comfort zone. They conducted the analysis together with our people. As a result, the end product isn’t a reflection from the outside but a report with our own DNA in it.”

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Joep van den Tillaart