Koen Van Acker has been the CFO at the construction group Artes Group since 1990. The financial department has been involved in ongoing development for just as long. What was once a transaction factory with primarily operational tasks, has grown into a high-performing financial function. The CFO attested to the role that Isabel 6 and SignHere play in this development during a webinar.
The Artes Group is a reputable player in construction, restoration, civil engineering and water works. It consists of various contracting companies, each of which has its own area of specialization. The group has some 680 employees and generates a consolidated turnover of €300 million. Together with some fellow contractors, Artes is giving shape to the Oosterweel link which should relieve traffic in and around Antwerp.
Koen Van Acker reminisces how the work of the financial department was carried out mainly with paper documents two decades ago. “From booking invoices to preparing tax returns, and onto entering and signing VAT returns, everything was done manually,” the CFO points out. “The transformation to ICT tools in recent years has been a boon to our operation. We have gone from input accounting to auditing accounting. As a result, that auditing aspect looks different also, as software take various verifications out of our hands.”
Comprehensive digitization is creating room for a more strategic role. “Digitization offers us more possibilities and time to create value. For instance, it enable us to focus more on devising financing forms or supporting the CEO in decisions concerning acquisitions, pricing or cost cuts.” Koen Van Acker points to the challenges that such digitization entails. “The implementation of a new ERP package requires the requisite knowledge in the financial department. Investments in training are consequently crucial in such a case. Needless to say, employees must also be open to change and improvement and it is best to choose software tools that are supported by management.”
The Artes Group has for the last two years been using SignHere, a user-friendly, secure solution for signing documents digitally. “Our employees would previously have to go from construction sites to our offices more frequently than they liked in order to sign certain documents and contracts,” Koen Van Acker explains. “That could scarcely be described as time efficient. SignHere enables our people to sign documents digitally from other locations, without relinquishing control from our offices. We opted for SignHere because it is secure and user-friendly. In the meantime, other construction partners are using SignHere also. All it takes is to send them an e-mail indicating the document to be signed. Our administration is then apprised immediately that everything is cut and dried, so no-one has to go specially down to the office to sign any longer.”