Deloitte and Colruyt
Breathing space in a fast growing group
FINCO nv, the coordination centre of the Colruyt group, enticed five eager young professionals from Deloitte to come to the rescue of the accounting department: Jena Cruysberghs, Olivier Bernard, Gunther Kemps, Sofie Vandesompele and Peter Verlinden. A win-win situation according to Véronique Basteleus, department head of central accounting. The Deloitte team learns how to work in a multi-company environment. The staff from FINCO are free to get on with new and temporary challenge.
Sixty companies to take care of
FINCO nv is the coordination centre for the Colruyt group, employing more than 200 staff. The Colruyt group has sixty companies in Belgium. Véronique Basteleus: “We’re divided into four main departments: a ‘transactional accounting’ department, the ‘business management’ department, the ‘process coordination’ department, and the ‘general accounting’ department. Every Colruyt company in Belgium does its own accounting, which is then centralised at FINCO nv. We offer these services to sixty or so companies with headquarters in Halle. The French subsidiaries are managed entirely in France. But the consolidation takes place here."
Temporary projects and increased workload
Véronique Basteleus: “Our group is growing fast. There are a lot of temporary projects, which means that the ‘general accounting’ department is struggling to cope with an increased workload. We implemented IFRS, but that just made more work for us. We still have to optimise the existing work instructions and this year the French companies are being consolidated for the first time in Belgium.
At Medio 2006 we were faced with a real dilemma. Should we recruit people? If so, we would have to train them ourselves, which takes a lot of time and slows down project completions. And then we’d probably only need the extra manpower temporarily.
Deloitte solves the problem
Véronique Basteleus: “Wim Biesemans, financial director of the Colruyt group, had already worked successfully with Deloitte in another company, and suggested we contact Deloitte’s Sven Asselbergh.” After discussing it internally, we were so enthusiastic about the benefits of outsourcing to Deloitte that we decided to go for it. In spring 2006 Gunther Kemps was the first Deloitte employee to arrive, followed by Sofie Vandesompele in May and Jena Cruysberghs in December. Peter Verlinden and Olivier Bernard arrived in January and February of this year.”
Well trained, quick to adjust
“There were several reasons for considering a partner like Deloitte. We expect our people to have an excellent knowledge of accounting and to be very comfortable with basic IT programmes such as Excel. They also have to work on their own initiative and develop projects. The people from Deloitte lived up to all these criteria. They are all well trained and very flexible, which means they can adjust fast. They also have the right background for our department.”
Hands free for new challenges
“The greatest advantage of working with Deloitte is that we can offer our own people new challenges. They love their current jobs, but are eager to learn. Therefore, we deliberately chose to give them new challenges, while handing over their usual work to the Deloitte people. This way our staff gain new experiences and build up expertise that stays within Colruyt."
Supported, not replaced
“The Deloitte people were welcomed enthusiastically in the department. We explained to our staff that this would give them the chance to work on temporary projects, in place of their normal assignments. This means continuity in their own project and time for the necessary follow-up. In addition, they know they can return to their workplace once their temporary project is finished. It went down very well with everyone. Our people now know they are being supported, not replaced.”
Open communication, smooth integration
“Deloitte and Colruyt share this open and communicative mentality”, says service manager Véronique Basteleus. “There is open communication on all levels at Colruyt, and because the Deloitte people fitted in with this approach, they were included in meetings and were quickly able to learn and participate".
Even our IT system reflects our openness. To start with, we work with an open digital diary: you can see what meetings are being held and who is there, and you can find out who is working on which project. At a glance and indirectly you can find out what’s going on in the company.”
Green pastures in the internal archives
Internal information is available to everyone Basteleus explains: “Correspondence, memos or accounts, everyone is a few mouse clicks away from all the information they need on a project.”
Diplomatic and elegant
What else is striking about the Deloitte people? “It’s really nice working with them", thinks the FINCO service manager. “They are very diplomatic and flexible. They have an elegant way of wording things and getting their point across. If they have any observations, they make them in the correct way, without the slightest feeling of superiority. Perhaps they are simply reflecting the environment in which they are working: Colruyt has a democratic, no-nonsense culture. Everyone is equal before the law and everyone is valued equally for their input.”
Not the lowest price, but certainly the best quality
Colruyt’s slogan is ‘the lowest price’. So how does that square with Deloitte? “They don’t quite match us there”, laughs Véronique Basteleus. “Deloitte is expensive, but then the quality is good too. And it can certainly be justified for a two-year period."
“What is the greatest value of Deloitte? With continuous training they make sure that their staff are always equipped with the latest knowledge.”
It’s a win-win situation for us”, concludes Véronique Basteleus. “They learn from us, from our way of working and from things that are particular to our company. In return, we learn from their working methods. But, above all, the open communication ensures that we learn from each other.”