As an Exact reseller and implementation partner, Octopus Blue were invited to their partner day at the Belfry on 26 April 2017.  Here’s what we learned.

Eric van der Meijden

CEO, Exact

After a brief introduction from UK General Manager Gavin Fell, Eric took the stage and presented a video from Max Verstappen, the F1 sensation who Exact sponsor.

Max shares Exacts’ brand values, he is challenging existing parties who have become complacent.

Eric gave a brief history of Exact, who in the 1990’s were profitable, but not innovating and as a result, not growing.  Their aim is the be the number one cloud business provider in Europe.  They are increasing development in the head office in Delft, adopting a lean start-up mentality, focussing on Wholesale Distribution, Manufacturing, Professional services and the accountancy markets.

They offer the same solution in every country…unlike xxx 50 for example, he joked!

Eric anticipates that in two years the cloud business will overtake the on-premise Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for revenue.  Currently 57% of sales are from their home market in the Netherlands, with 25% in the US and 18% in the rest of the world.

Like many software vendors and accountancy thought leaders, Eric emphasised the need for accountants to be Trusted Advisors and highlighted the dashboards, alerts and continuous monitoring features in Exact Online which support this.

The strategic direction for Exact is to become a digital platform with three main tenants: Connect, Finance, Share.  By offering short term finance data, connecting to new customers and accessing the sharing economy, Exact’s Massive Tech Development Platform (MTD) aims to address these needs.

Martijn Feeks

Ecosystem Director 

Martijn joined Exact 3.5 years ago as they needed an app centre – Martijn proposed the ecosystem.

His vision is that you have people around you helping your business so Exact needed an eco-system to help you access accountants, Value Added Resellers (VARs) and other professionals.

Martijn gave an anecdote of his first job, at the age of 16 switching hard drives.  Software was free then, as hardware generated the revenue.  As technology advanced and software moved to physical discs it was the installation that made money.  Now with cloud software it is the connectors and the APIs that release the value.   “APIs are going to change the world!”

Debbie Coles – Powell and Co – How Exact has transformed my life!

Debbie has a background in accountancy and banking (side note the last firm of Accountants Debbie worked with, Thorne Widgery in Hereford is where I started my accountancy career – small world!).  Powell and Co asked Debbie for some advice.  It became apparent they had issues with their strategy – where did they want to get to? 

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Powell’s build poultry sheds, which gave Debbie an induction of fire as she is vegetarian!  They build approx. 1 shed per week.

Some of the issues they faced were that the agricultural businesses are not used to tech.  They generally don’t use email or other technology advance and need to transform.

Powell’s have 55 people on the payroll and 30 gangs.  Debbie’s approach was:

  1. Observe what’s going on…it was chaos! They worked like multiple small business rather than one organisation and didn’t talk
  2. Customer journey…no one person knew what it was like

There were lots of spreadsheets.  No transparency.  Meetings with no agendas. One in particular lasted four hours with eight mangers and only agreed on new stationery!

There was a red ledger book that was the job records.  But financial data was in Sage. They charged for the initial installation, but maintenance was free.  In one example this was 15 years after installation.  Great customer service, but not sustainable.  Some work was not invoiced, or it was invoiced late.

Powell’s had had the same accountant for many years.  Debbie noted that anyone can do accounts.  As an accountant, how do you add value?  The previous accountant didn’t add value so now they have a new one.

On top of this Powell’s bought a steel business which they need to integrate.  They too suffered many of the same issues.

Their process was:

  • Enquiry
  • Planning
  • Production
  • Delivery
  • Construction

This is when they engaged Paul, and Exact.  They needed a cloud product as their server was about to fall over.

Paul Watson, Problem Solver took the mic to offer his perspective.  Not all the problems they were having were tech related.  He looked at Exact Manufacturing and Project Management.  Ideally, they would integrate both but that wasn’t a simple option, they had to customise.

Paul repeated the process review Debbie had done and went they live at the end of the VAT quarter with just financials. It would have ground the system to a halt to change everything at once.

As implementation and training were underway Paul started to hand over to internal staff, adding new features periodically.

The plan to implement by the end of 2016 didn’t’ happened, but progress has been strong.  There is more accountability and stock has been added in April 2017

Paul’s take aways 

  1. Add in bite sized chucks
  2. Set a realistic time frame
  3. Embed the process in what you do

DON’T QUIT!

It’s a long journey, but the team are more commercially aware and Paul is seen as a trusted advisor (not just the accountant) and is seen internally as an employee.

Jamie Smith

Customer Success Manager, Exact 

From on boarding, to training and customer success, Jaime and his team of 17 people in 6 countries offer support to Exact customers and partners.  Jamie talked us through the customer journey with training and site visits.  Jamie gave a demo of Exact Wholesale Distribution, showing off some of the applications strengths.

Partner Awards

UK General Manager, Exact

Gavin said that Exact are fantastic at celebrating success.  After the event the partners were free to play golf at the esteemed course, network, attend innovation meetings…or go home early!

He also announced the Partner awards which were presented by Martijn and Eric.

The App Partner of the year was Panintelligence who have consistently gone the extra mile to work with Exact, even attending the Hackathon at Exacts’ headquarters in Delft, the Netherlands.

Irish based Synergy Network was awarded the Rising Star Award, for James’s patient, thorough and focused approach.

Partner of the Year was presented to Ascarii Ltd.  After working with mainly SAP customers and losing a high proportion of medium sized deals which were not well suited, Stuart Wilson started to look at products which could service the SME sectors.  Great to work with offering dedicated resource, Exact felt Ascarii met the criteria to win this award.

Summary

The Exact Partner day was a great chance to learn more about best practices, future plans and to meet and learn from other partners.  As a former Exact Product Manager, it was also great for me personally to catch up with old friends.

To stay up to date with developments from Exact and the whole business software industry keep in touch with Octopus Blue.

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