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Client case: Stedin

The problem

About eight years ago, to relieve pressure on customer service, Stedin switched from a simple website to one with many more self-service options for customers. Sitecore was chosen as their content management platform at that time, and instead of continuing to work with an external partner, they chose to manage and develop the entire Sitecore platform in-house. Since then, they have had their own team including Sitecore developers in-house. Sjoerd Hartman, Product Owner Online Marketing at Stedin, explains, "Stedin is different from other companies because we have a non-profit purpose and don't do lead generation. We are a grid operator, so you are automatically our customer if you live in our area. You can't leave us, so our goal is not to bring in as many customers as possible, generate leads or other sales-related activities. For us, it's really about serving our customers optimally. We're doing a lot of that at Stedin and we have our own ideas about that. The key focus from marketing is on customer convenience and customer satisfaction, that's what we put a lot of effort into and from that perspective we come up with solutions for the customer that our own developers and IT people then create for us."

The moment Stedin had to switch to a new version of Sitecore, a large part of the website had to be rebuilt. Sjoerd: "we could use some experience and help with that". Because Stedin manages the platform itself, the partnership with Stedin took a different form than usual, as Stedin hired a Sitecore architect for this assignment.

The solution

"We had a number of junior developers at the time of the migration; we were missing some knowledge and experience in rebuilding," Sjoerd said. Through an internal request for external developers with a lot of Sitecore knowledge, uxbee was recommended. One of uxbee's Sitecore architects took on the assignment and was closely involved in the migration of the platform for a year as team lead on the project. Because uxbee had already successfully performed similar migrations several times for other customers, uxbee was able to make this migration go smoothly.

The experience

Sjoerd talks about the pleasant cooperation: "I think that this project and the experience that uxbee brought with it helped enormously in taking the team's knowledge to a higher level, our internal Sitecore developers learned a lot from the partnership. We were happy when the project was successfully completed, but at the same time we were sad to see uxbee leave with it. In the end, I think we now have sufficient expertise in-house to take on these things ourselves from now on."

The technical specifications

With every upgrade, the consideration is whether to upgrade the current environment or look at a rebuild on the new version of Sitecore. Considerations you need to think about are: how long does an upgrade of the current site take and how much time is this versus rebuilding? With a rebuild, the advantage is that you start again with a clean slate, you can review all previous decisions and use new techniques and patterns, such as Helix, for example. In addition, the quality of the current implementation is important, does it meet Sitecore's best practices? If not, it makes upgrading a lot more complex and time-consuming. At Stedin, an upgrade was needed from Sitecore version 7 to 9.3 with a fairly old codebase. Therefore, the decision was made to keep the platform live on Sitecore 7 and start building the updated version of the website in Sitecore 9.3 in the background. The moment the new environment was completed, we could quickly switch from Sitecore 7 to 9.3 with a simple DNS change. Thus, Stedin was again ready for the future with a new, up-to-date Sitecore platform.