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Cegeka directs IT transition after NHL Stenden merger

Swen van Beveren, Team Leader for Digital Operations, NHL Stenden

Sector: Education 

In theory, the merger was complete with the Minister’s signature. But for NHL and Stenden College, the real work had just begun. The two institutions used different workstations, information systems, teaching environments and data centres. It fell to Cegeka to create order and uniformity, without any disruption for the 2,200 staff and 24,000 students. 


The administrative merger of the two colleges took place on 1 January 2018. In the background, NHL and Stenden continued with education, each in its individual way. Nine months later, at the start of the new academic year, the first students entered the eight joint education locations of the new NHL Stenden college. Though NHL Stenden might be a single organisation in fact, the institution had not yet reached that stage in digital terms. In the meantime, however, students could log in, lecturers could hold classes, and the staff could cooperate online. 


“The movements between the two colleges started quickly”, reflects Swen van Beveren, Team Leader for Digital Operations. “Too fast, actually. Students and staff still had their own login systems and email applications. That made a lot of demands on our IT department. You engage in firefighting instead of structurally building a new environment. We wanted too much at once, while the college was simply open as normal. That went wrong. There was an urgent need for a new approach.” 

From six data centres to one 

At the height of the merger process, 54 projects were running alongside each other. In the digital sphere, it involved - among other things - the transition to a single operating system, the merging of student portals, and the introduction of a shared infrastructure. Six data centres were inherited from the old situation. Some were external, others on-site. There had to be one data centre for the new college. 

“The infrastructure was complex. We wanted to simplify the working environment as fast as possible. It was crucial that the changes should be reflected in the organisation. A new environment means a lot of changes, and people are not naturally inclined to embrace these”, says Swen.

“The infrastructure was complex. We wanted to simplify the working environment as fast as possible” 

- Swen van Beveren, Team Leader for Digital Operations, NHL Stenden 

Swen van Beveren NHL Stenden

Cegeka as director 

To get the organisation moving, the transition was assigned to the management level. For the leadership of the project, NHL Stenden called in Cegeka. Among other things, the IT specialist supplied a programme manager: a ‘director’ with the task of getting this extensive project back on the road. Cegeka became responsible for the roadmap, risk management and progress. 

It was also necessary to make decisions about the application landscape and the workplace. With which applications does the organisation want to continue? Which programs should run in the Cloud? And how should the new workplace environment come to look? This strategic process is also known as Life Cycle Management, and Cegeka has the specialists required to deal with this.

With the selection of Cegeka, structure was immediately brought into the approach, recounts Swen. “Cegeka is an excellent director. They know their role and dare to voice contrary opinions, even against the management. Cegeka keeps a tight control of planning, costs, and risk management. And, in addition to their knowledge and know-how, they contribute an extensive network of specialists.”


A single college in digital terms 

In September 2021, over two years after the start, the programme was completed. Swen calls the new digital environment ‘a relief for everyone’. 


“We are now a single college in digital terms. The working environment has been completely modernised. Students and lecturers can work anywhere: at home, on the move and at the college. All our core applications run in the cloud, and users work independently of individual devices. As managers, we also benefit from the new infrastructure. We now have only one environment to manage instead of three different ones with six data centres in the background. We are now less vulnerable to errors.” 


Cegeka thinks along with you 

The adoption is now fine, partly thanks to help from an unexpected quarter: the coronavirus. “That was a blessing in disguise. Due to the measures, everyone was suddenly at home and having to work via SharePoint and Teams. And, thanks to the empty buildings, we were able to switch all the workstations to the new system in one go. 


Swen looks back very positively at the role Cegeka played in the programme. “Thanks to Cegeka’s expertise, there was good control of planning, risk, and quality. If something threatened to go wrong, prompt action was taken. Furthermore, Cegeka’s consultants are always prepared to think along with you in all kinds of areas, even if they are not directly related to the assignment. If they see a development, they have a vision concerning it. I find that very valuable.”  


“Thanks to Cegeka’s expertise, there was good control of planning, risk, and quality.” 

- Swen van Beveren, Team Leader for Digital Operations, NHL Stenden 


"Cegeka keeps tight control and dares to voice a contrary opinion" 


  • Merger of large organisations 
  • Tens of thousands of work accounts 
  • Education must go on 


  • One system for the entire organisation 
  • Applications accessible at any location 
  • Manageable infrastructure 



  • Windows 10
  • Microsoft 365
  • Microsoft Azure

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