Executive Board wants to merge IMS and DML into one service

The merger between Information Management Services (IMS) and Data Management & Library (DML) is one of six initiatives that needs to improve the quality of the two services. The change plan that forms the basis of this initiative was recently discussed with the staff members. A total of two hundred staff members will come to work at the newly formed service. The University Council needs to approve the plan by June 20th, after which it will be further worked out. The new service, which as of yet remains nameless, needs to be operational one year from now, according to project manager Dennis Raijmakers.

photo Syda Productions / Shutterstock

Working according to the agile methodology – that will be the leading principle at the future service resulting from the merger between IMS and DML, says Dennis Raijmakers, who supervised this first cycle of the SQUAD operation in his capacity as project manager. Three more trajectories of this kind will follow over the next four years, during which an assessment will be made of whether a merger between services is desirable from the point of view of service optimization.

Much overlap

That’s certainly the case at IMS and DML, Raijmakers says. “There’s much overlap between the tasks and support provided by these services to the departments and other services, and that’s why it often seems rather illogical to divide them between two different services. After the merger between IMS and DML – if the University Council agrees on June 20th – is completed, the new service will work with six so-called product areas to which it will offer support: library and open science, research, education, corporate products, data & insights and platform products.” 

A management team will focus on the substantive issues, and a second team will focus on competence management, “the HR branch, so to speak,” Raijmakers says. “That’s because the university will make a substantial investment over the coming years in the development of staff members to make the necessary competence shift possible. The training budget for the new service will be doubled for this. Competence managers will support and facilitate the development of staff members.” The change plan has earmarked 1.5 million euros for this purpose.

Assignment procedure

This does however means that a number of existing management positions within both services will disappear. Raijmakers: “Some ten functions will cease to exist, and we will try to find new positions for those who hold the current ones. Incidentally, we will soon start with an assignment procedure for staff members of both services, during which knowledge, competencies and preferences of staff members will be taken into account. At the same time, the capacity need within certain teams will also be taken into account. Despite the fact that the official term for a merger between services is reorganization, it is our intention to find a position at the new service for everyone currently working at IMS and DML. It’s about improving efficiency, not about cutting costs.”

The newly formed teams that will become active within the six product areas, will be composed of staff members that currently work in separate groups. “In the current situation, clients – such as researchers or lecturers – often need to look for the right expert within the two services to help them solve their problem,” Raijmakers says. “That’s a very time consuming and frustrating experience, which is why we will bring several different fields of expertise together in one team, and make one team member the owner of the problem that needs to be solved. This breaks down the silos we still have today, which is a characteristic feature of that new, agile way of working. Similar to the use of sprints, where a team carries out a certain number of tasks within a certain period of time under supervision of a scrum master.”

Service hub

Raijmakers would like to mention one important point: “Each department will have a physical service hub as of 2023, where researchers and lecturers can go to with their questions and problems. This allows us to keep the lines of communication between the new service and the departments very short and easy to oversee. When someone approaches a service hub with a problem, that hub will work on the solution without the client having to approach several other desks as well. You could compare it to the Regiobank formula.”

The new service will pursue a clear focus on further improving the university’s primary processes, Raijmakers says, “meaning on education, research and valorization. We want to offer a customized approach when necessary. That means that we may discontinue existing services that fall outside those areas of focus, or that we will use standardized systems.” Because the available budget won’t fundamentally increase in totality, he says, which means that choices need to be made.


According to the change plan, “the standardization and redistribution of means and budgets will generate savings of 2 million euros in due course (as of 2028).” However, it also says that “the new working method will require the influx of new talent in order to fill vacancies and to contribute to the new way of working.” This is expected to cost 2.4 million euros. That sum will eventually be compensated with the increasing realized savings.

The merger between IMS and DML in early 2023 is the first large-scale organizational change resulting from the SQUAD operation, which was launched in 2021 and will run until 2025. Raijmakers, who will only supervise this current trajectory, thinks that his successors will greatly benefit during the next three trajectories from the lessons learned this time. “We had to carry out this trajectory under demanding time constraints. One thing we learned for certain is that you actively need to involve departments in this operation for the entire duration of the process. Because this means that you make decisions together, and that the departments share the success of the operation.”

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