What are the benefits of digital transformation in the Office of Finance and how does it pay off in terms of customer satisfaction? These were the central questions of our panel discussion "How to build a customer centric ecosystem" at LucaNet.World 2021, to which we welcomed three of our partners. Among them were Verena Glutting, Director of Capital Markets & Accounting Advisory Services at PWC, Tobias Laube, Partner at Ebner Stolz, and Manuel Giese, Managing Partner at Concentro.
Our partners are a key factor to LucaNet's success. They range from leading ERP providers to renowned auditing and consulting firms to established technology companies. They all help us meet our customers' most complex challenges. That's why we were delighted to have Verena Glutting, Tobias Laube, and Manuel Giese join us for a conversation with our Channel Manager Luisa Richwien and to discuss many more exciting topics, for example:
- How did they manage the transition from on-site to remote work?
- What was driving their customers in 2021?
- The advantages of a software solution like LucaNet
- The success factors for achieving the greatest possible customer satisfaction
- What does the future hold for LucaNet?
Digital transformation: The opportunities in the crisis
Luisa Richwien: How do you look back on the past year? What do you remember most about your work?
Tobias Laube: Last year was very successful for us because our customers were very successful. And this success was, I think, mainly due to the fact that they were able to manage the COVID crisis well for the most part. LucaNet was able to provide good support here, especially in terms of planning and the creation of scenario plans. What also really surprised us last year was that we were able to switch from working onsite to working remotely for customer workshops and onboarding with our new colleagues. This transition to true digital working has worked very well.
Verena Glutting: I can absolutely confirm that. For us, too, it was a goal to master the change from on-site to remote projects. And I am really surprised and happy how well that worked out.
Luisa Richwien: Manuel, what were the most important topics for your existing customers and also for you at Concentro this year?
Manuel Giese: The driving factor is an ever-increasing interest of our customers to integrate LucaNet as part of the digital control or transparency ecosystem. Our customers are asking fundamental questions: "How do we control the company?", and for us LucaNet is the perfect tool to link it with ERP and other systems.
Customer centricity is the be-all and end-all
Luisa Richwien: How does Concentro enable its customers to achieve the maximum with LucaNet? And how is the customer at the center of this?
Manuel Giese: I am convinced that a customer actually never buys a software tool, but a solution to organize and improve his business. So the focus is always on understanding the customer. The situation in most medium-sized companies is that they have limited resources and take, for example, three out of four weeks a month to do a consolidation or an updated planning. That's too much – and we show our customers how they can make better use of their limited resources with LucaNet. Our goal is to enable the customer to realize the (standard financial) information relevant for him with one third of the (FiCo) resources used so far.
Luisa Richwien: Let's assume a customer is not yet convinced to digitize their processes: How would you convince them?
Manuel Giese: Cost and speed are the key. On the one hand, the customer is naturally interested in how LucaNet saves their resources and thus time and money. And on the other hand, how they can use the tool to quickly and reliably obtain the financial data they need for their business requirements.
Luisa Richwien: Verena, how do you create added value for your customers with LucaNet?
Verena Glutting: Well, what all my customers have in common is that they want an automated consolidation and reporting process. The motivation for this varies. It can be a strategic finance or finance transformation project in a family business, or an M&A or divestment case. And it gets even more interesting when the customers need to build their finance organization themselves. For example, after a spin-off process, so that the newly created company can meet the requirements for external and financial reporting, but also for management reporting, from day one. Then we rely on tools like LucaNet, which can be deployed quickly. Another point that I see as a growing demand in financial organizations is the demand for managed services, for example Consolidation as a Service. We support our customers in this respect as well.
Success factors to achieve customer satisfaction
Luisa Richwien: You work with many companies of different sizes. How do your project approaches differ when implementing LucaNet?
Verena Glutting: Yes, that's true. The size and complexity of the company structure vary, as do the motivations for the implementation of LucaNet. We reflect these individual situations in our project approaches. They range from a coaching approach to an entire joint-implementation project to a full-scope implementation that we execute. In my experience, which approach fits best depends not so much on the size of the customer, but on the time constraints and their availability. A family business implementing LucaNet as part of its digital agenda will usually have more time and more availability in its accounting and controlling team and will want a joint implementation rather than a full-scope implementation by us. A startup preparing for an IPO, on the other hand, is more interested in getting full support from us in the beginning. Nevertheless, in these cases, we make sure that onboarding and training are included in the project as early as possible.
Luisa Richwien: Is there a success factor for achieving the goals of a project?
Verena Glutting: For me, a decisive success factor is a well-established planning and onboarding phase in which we first define the reporting requirements together with the customer. For example, do you need segment reporting? Which KPIs are relevant for your monitoring? Second, we check the data availability. Is all the data already available in the ERP system? Or do we still need to do something during implementation? And third, so-called motivational talks with the CFO and the customer's subsidiaries. Even if they are not necessarily involved in the project until later, it is crucial for the success of the project to get them on board early on in terms of time and content. In my experience, the more international a company is, the more important this is.
Customer orientation has to be lived
Luisa Richwien: Tobias, how do you approach projects at Ebner Stolz?
Tobias Laube: First of all, our project approach differs from project to project. For example, we have several customers who are in a turnaround and restructuring situation. Here, we provide support as a full-service provider in the finance area. So, for example, if we are commissioned to restructure a bank, we use LucaNet as a tool in these consulting projects. We do the work ourselves right from the start, we build the data model, we do the consolidation, and we create and validate the planning. If the customer is convinced of the built solution, then we often hand over the data model to the customers for their own use. In an implementation project, we involve the customer much more in the work so that we can achieve maximum knowledge transfer from us to the customer. It is then crucial that the necessary resources and the schedule are planned realistically. And after the project, I think it's also very important that we stay in contact with the customer. Customer support is very important, because it is the only way to understand the customer's needs and solve their problems in the future.
Luisa Richwien: At Ebner Stolz, you have special teams for your clients. Can you tell us a little more about that and how it came about?
Tobias Laube: First of all, we want to be a one-stop shop for our customers when it comes to financial advice. And we are of the opinion that this includes professional services on the one hand, but also the implementation of intelligent tools on the other. So we deliver not only financial excellence, but also tool excellence. This is why we have become a partner of LucaNet. And on top of that, we also have a customer care team, which takes care of ERP connectivity, technical setup, and first-level support, for example. And since our claim is "Closer to you", we want to be closer to our customers. That's why, about 15 years ago, we decided that we would also provide support and help our customers be more successful every day.
Benefits of digital transformation or: Go digital or die
Luisa Richwien: Let's take a peek into the future. Verena, where do you see LucaNet's greatest potential in the future?
Verena Glutting: Well, I see three issues. First, the comparatively short implementation time of LucaNet and the out-of-the-box functionalities are always a plus for LucaNet. Second, the number of standard interfaces already available. This is quite impressive and especially interesting for international customers with their many different ERP systems. And the third point is the flexibility. You can use LucaNet with different tools for a holistic approach. LucaNet can focus on its core functionality and interact with the tools that are specialized in their own core area. Therefore, our customers can easily bundle their tool landscape with specialized solutions for consolidation, disclosure management, and also BI tools.
Tobias Laube: I would like to highlight two highlights in particular. One is that, from my point of view, LucaNet is really the market leader for consolidation in the European and German-speaking countries. It also has a very good reputation with investors, banks, and private equity investors. That clearly reflects the high satisfaction of the users and the shareholders with the solution. And the second point is definitely that we need to offer a cloud solution in an international environment. Therefore, the path that LucaNet is currently taking, namely to become a SaaS provider, is right and important. It's a must in an international environment because it technically makes things so much easier.
Manuel Giese: I would like to pick up where Verena and Tobias left off. On the one hand, the modular way is a big advantage. If you are using LucaNet, you can actually go to your customer and say, "Well, if you only need one apple, you don't have to buy the whole apple tree. But if you decide, you like the apple, you need five more apples, or maybe you want to start planting a tree, LucaNet is perfect because of the modular approach." So does it really make a difference to our customers whether it's one legal entity or 20 or 30 legal entities and subgroups? Actually, no. What really makes customers happy is seeing that we can start small and move quickly, have a first iteration, and see that the product really delivers what we promised. It's pretty simple, and it takes half the time compared to before. LucaNet is a catalyst for us to really look at all the processes and tools around the actual financial planning and consolidation. LucaNet makes it possible to get down to the actual processes and the people working behind them.
And secondly: We have coined the slogan "Go digital or die" with our customers. If you're not using integrated reporting or integrated planning in a software solution that's tailored to that, you will simply have big problems, and they will continue getting bigger. LucaNet is pretty straightforward, I love the tool, and I'm looking forward to building a platform around the SaaS capabilities.
More on the topics of customer satisfaction and digital transformation
Do you want to dive into the topic even deeper? No problem – we recorded the panel discussion with our partners at LucaNet.World 2021 and are happy to make it available to you. In the recording, you can find out how LucaNet and its partners work hand in hand, in which markets our partners are currently successful, and what other trends are currently being observed:
What are the factors for a successful carve-out project? In this blog post, Ralf Pfennig, partner at KPMG in Cologne, answers all the important questions that apply in practice.