Zaanstad City Council Saves €1 Million Per Year Replacing Legacy System with Betty Blocks

The Zaanstad city council in the Netherlands is the kind of leader that stands out among municipalities: they’re innovators who aren’t afraid to try new solutions. This spirit allows them to get ahead, saving 1 million euros per year by building their own custom software: something virtually unheard of in the government sector.

Tom Uleman, City of Zaanstad Senior Information Manager

Not moving forward

IT pros in the government sector know that software projects in their industry are notoriously prone to failure. You’ve probably heard horror stories about governments trying to develop projects themselves, only to end up in a bigger mess than they started- and billions of dollars in the hole. “Governments aren’t used to making their own software,” says Tom Uleman, City of Zaanstad Senior Information Manager. As a result, common practice is to look for a standardized SaaS package that will, best case scenario, fit only 70-80% of their needs.


Zaanstad had a familiar problem with their legacy GWS system. They’d been using it for 25 years, but it was preventing the organization from moving forward because it could only support inefficient processes. Any time Zaanstad wanted to make a change, for example, all 300 municipalities on the system needed to agree.

Taking control of their software

Tom knew the city needed to take control of their software. “We know what functionality is really needed. We didn’t want someone else to run away with unnecessary features that would complicate things.” When the municipality needed a new system for their youth care services, Tom saw an opportunity. “We had a vision on how youth services should be handled in the region but no available software could support this vision. The application didn’t exist yet.”


So Zaanstad created it themselves. They had a first version of the application in just 10 days. Once live, the application increased administrative efficiency for youth care programs by 40%. And where the GWS system required 10 backend developers to operate, Zaanstad now only needs 4 to maintain.

Innovating by doing

The initial youth care application was so successful that the city of Zaanstad has replaced more modules of their legacy system with a total of 7 Betty Blocks applications in 3 years. Today, the change has them rethinking how they approach their IT projects entirely, and enables them to keep innovation at the forefront. “It’s about doing and experimenting,” says Tom. “Now after seeing the success of our 7 Betty Blocks applications, we think this is quite a good way to replace more of our legacy systems. And we have more freedom to innovate by being able to develop new concepts and applications ourselves.”

The initial youth care application was so successful that the city of Zaanstad has replaced more modules of their legacy system with a total of 7 Betty Blocks applications in 3 years.

Looking to the future

Zaanstad has plans to continue to make Betty Blocks applications a bigger part of their core application landscape. This year they will transfer more social services applications to Betty Blocks, and plan to extend their applications to other municipalities to facilitate cooperation.

With the Betty Blocks applications at the core of their youth care administration, the Zaanstad city council saves over 1 million per year. And because of the increased efficiency and improved administration the applications provide the youth programs, Zaankanters (that’s what you call a resident of Zaanstad) are reporting 3 times higher satisfaction scores for the care they receive.

What else can you build with Betty? Check our our customer case page for more inspiration on innovating with no-code. Or read about what Gasunie and grocery delivery start-up Stockon are doing on our blog.