40 years of collaboration: Exact + AB = customization for the industrial customer

Exact and AB are both celebrating their 40th anniversaries this year.

Exact and AB are both celebrating their 40th anniversaries this year. Roland ten Broeke, the company's director, tells us how it all came about and what makes collaborating with Exact such a pleasure. "From growing to celebrating together: effective collaboration takes two. With Exact as the base and our own custom ad-ons, our customers have precisely the software they need."

Exact as the base

AB provides (custom) solutions to companies in various industrial sectors, such as machine and equipment building, high tech, metalworking, food production and the medical industry. They link their products to Exact Globe or Exact Online and create their own ad-ons in order to provide manufacturers with a platform that is just the right fit. "We've been doing this for 40 years", says Roland. "There are around 90 members of our team working with Exact daily."

AB specialises in complex implementations. "None of our customers use Exact's standard package. We add our own solutions to the core ERP platform, tweaking the package to be just the right fit for their business processes. Our goal is the same as that of Exact: to make companies stronger and allow them to excel."

Exact is a local business, where you can still get to know the actual people. People who are available to help you out when needed."

Decades of partnership

Founder Aernout Bos launched AB four decades ago. "He began by carrying out complex custom projects for Philips and other companies", explains Roland. "A year or so later, when he sold the company he had at the time, his market research showed a demand for optimised ERP solutions for manufacturers. After an extensive selection process, AB entered into partnership with Exact around 32 years ago."

In those first few years that wasn't anything too complicated, according to Roland. "We implemented Exact's standard software modules, Globe and Synergy. It wasn't until 2012 that a new colleague at AB proposed the development of our own ad-ons. That was the beginning of our customisation business. Over the years, our activities and implementations have become increasingly complex. Projects used to require 20 to 30 days of guidance by a consultant, but that can be up to 200 days now. We still use Exact as our basic platform. In the past 30 years, we've completed around 550 implementations. And we're still doing new projects and optimisations every year."

Our goal is the same as that of Exact: to make companies stronger and allow them to excel."

Business software

Support and marketing partners

Because Exact was receiving more and more complex questions from users with AB implementations and customisations, AB set up its own support department in 2015. Instead of going to Exact, those questions were answered directly by AB from then on. "That's when we became a support partner as well", says Roland. In addition to support, Exact and AB also collaborate on marketing. "Our Marketing Manager carries out co-marketing projects in close collaboration with Exact's marketing department. We both organise a lot of events, and those are often coordinated. Members of our team are in contact with Exact at all levels."

Growth and innovation

Exact cannot do without partner channels. And those partners can't do without Exact. “As Exact produces the software we rely on, we need their help from time to time", says Roland. "On the other hand, Exact also invests in its partners. They need to do that to be able to continue serving complex customers. That simply can't be done working in isolation. In the coming 10 years, Exact will require knowledge of and expertise in many different sectors. We offer that for industry. And we will continue to do so."

The Exact platform keeps up with the times, while still meeting the needs of the majority of AB customers. "Certain customers' functional needs do expand beyond the software's capabilities eventually", explains Roland. "When that happens, they review their options and may decide to switch to another ERP system. Sometimes we lose those customers, others we don't, because our add-ons also work with their new ERP package. But we still recommend Exact to most customers! Regardless of our own future changes and growth, we will continue to target industry customers and focus on the use of Exact as our basic ERP system."

In the past 30 years, we've completed around 550 implementations."

Inner circle

Roland himself has been at AB for five years now. Before that, he worked for another IT company that also partnered with Exact. "I've been collaborating with Exact for nearly 30 years. When you've been around that long, you know everyone by name. I'm definitely familiar with the inner circle at Exact, at any rate. I can reach the people I need. Take Marcel van de Sandt on the product side; I've known him since 1996! This is and remains a human business, and good relationships make a difference."

It helps that Exact is a local business, active in the same places AB is. "I used to work with Microsoft too. A fantastic company with fantastic products, that's undeniable. But they only have a sales presence in the Netherlands, so it's almost impossible to resolve any issues with their products. You have to contact someone in America or do it all online. It's just less convenient."

Partner of the year

Throughout his career, Roland has been the recipient of multiple Exact awards. "I remember well that between 1996 and 2001, my previous employer was Exact Financials Partner of the Year for five years running. That was a nice boost for our brand recognition. After five times, Exact gave up on handing out that particular annual award."

This year, AB was named Exact Partner of the Year for the fifth time in 12 years and won the New Business Award for the fourth time. "Winning is lovely, of course, but we see it mainly as a sign of appreciation for our team", he says. "They put in a lot of effort for Exact each day. And yes, that's really how they see it. If we don't win anything in a certain year, I can put that into perspective. My colleagues do want to know why we didn't make it sometimes. They also like going to ceremonies, parties and sales incentives. They always come back in a good mood and are visibly proud to see our efforts recognised. As far as we are concerned, our collaboration with Exact will continue for a long time to come. Never change a winning team!"

40 years of continious innovation
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