Tom van Dael, Finance and IT Director at Visma | Raet speaks with FinTech Magazine to discuss digital transformation and change management...
Tom van Dael, Finance and IT Director at Visma | Raet, began his career at the company in March 2019. Prior to his role as Finance and IT Director, van Dael worked for Tele2 (Netherlands), M7 Group and KPN. “I've always worked in telecoms and finance,” says van Dael, “So moving to Visma | Raet was interesting for me. I moved from telecoms, to a Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud computing company that combines HR with other business critical software. Currently the company is going through a digital transition, which is a big challenge and one that is very interesting. I still work within finance at Visma Raet, but in a different market with big transformation and integration plans.”
In July 2018, Visma Group acquired 100% of Raet, forming Visma | Raet in the Netherlands. “Being acquired by Visma there was a culture change. Before, we were solely focused on HR and payroll software for businesses. With Visma the company can now provide a wider range of business software to companies,” says van Dael. “In the Netherlands our vision at Visma | Raet is to be the leading HR company in the Netherlands. But on top of that, we want Visma to be the leading critical business software provider, that offers the best business solutions.”
Since joining the company, van Dael has seen it drastically evolve in the wake of Visma’s acquisition of Raet. “Becoming a part of a bigger company has given a lot of new energy due to new investments and the new competencies available. The acquisition has had a very positive impact on Visma | Raet, not only from a business growth point of view, but in terms of personnel and culture as well.”
When it comes to digital transformation at Visma | Raet, van Dael highlights that one of the biggest challenges he has faced is the continued use of legacy systems. However, “the acquisition has given us access to a multitude of software from Visma that we can internally use. The use of this new software gives us the ability to optimise our software internally and provide our customers the best experience with our improved products.”
Currently within the company, van Dael is working to drive efficiency and a better experience via digital transformation. “We are working to make sure our backend has a clear setup of systems that are fully integrated, cloud based and easily accessible for the business,” says van Dael, who believes that “finance is one of the drivers of change within the business. In order to be more efficient in the market we need to foster larger quantities of more efficient insights.”
Van Dael also sees digital transformation providing multiple benefits for remaining competitive within the business software industry. “If you are selling software, you need to make sure that your own company is using it too, to become your own advocate for the software you are selling,” adds van Dael.
While the company provides cloud based technology to its customers, van Dael is working towards becoming a fully cloud-based organisation internally. “Cloud technology currently provides our users with a lot of flexibility and accessibility, something the company can benefit from internally.” When asked about other innovative technology, van Dael highlights the company’s use of big data, analytics and robotics. “When it comes to big data, we are on the edge of a huge opportunity to harness this technology efficiently. Building good data governance as we continue our digital transformation and company restructure will undoubtedly benefit Visma | Raet.” At the moment, the company is laying the foundations for collecting higher quality data to drive its analytics to the next level, as well as to improve and extend the use of robots currently already used within its business process outsource department. Ultimately, van Dael believes Visma | Raet is beginning to build a solid foundation for its software in order to not only incorporate innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning within the business in the future, but to drive efficient use of these technologies.
During its digital transformation journey, Visma | Raet has partnered with multiple companies to complement the Visma best of breed business software set up. Macaw has been the company’s integration partner from the beginning, implementing the foundations for a flexible Azure integration platform within Visma | Raet. This stable platform has helped the company to transform its internal IT towards a business enabler and take on the challenge to move away from legacy systems. The integrated cloud business software consists of Visma Severa, capturing all projects of Professional Services, Visma.net Financials, as well as supporting accounting, invoicing and Visma ProActive running the procurement process. To complement its business software, Visma | Raet uses Zuora to optimise its Software Subscription billing, which is also integrated within its Salesforce CRM. In addition to Macaw, Zuora and Salesforce, Visma | Raet has also partnered with Netive to support the management of its external layers of personnel and Kryon to optimise its processes by automating the mundane and repetitive activities. “The data set up of the new integrated business systems combined with the robotics capabilities opens a whole new window for the next step of data analytics to support our business,” says van Dael.
Discussing the topic of change management, van Dael highlights the importance of continuous upskilling your workforce. ”If a company is looking to change its way of operating or implementing new systems and technology, it’s not just processes that need to change. People need to change too – they need to be upskilled. Becoming part of a bigger company makes you look more closely at the things that you do and the resources you use to ensure efficiency and optimisation.” As a result of becoming Visma | Raet, van Dael speaks proudly of its increased access to talent. “We are no longer limited to the Netherlands,” says van Dael, “now we have multiple markets in which Visma is active, which provides access to different talents and competencies to develop our workforce.”
When it comes to the impact of digital transformation on its workforce, van Dael details the impact it is having specifically on his department. “Moving to a new system is a big change,” says van Dael. “Replacing legacy software with new software enables us to provide more high value services in the future. However, this does mean our workforce needs to develop as a result, by learning new skills and potentially changing their way of working.” Van Dael adds that, although change requires a lot of work, he believes people find it interesting, and that ultimately it helps employees and businesses to move to the next level. With this belief in mind, Visma | Raet looks to its people - alongside support from external organisations - to improve the operations of the business. “People themselves know the areas they want to improve and where the opportunities are to make processes work better. By involving people, whether from IT, finance or the business at large, everyone sees the personal benefits in transforming and as a result develop themselves in a natural way alongside the business.”