Many customers, including SMEs, are automating and switching to the cloud

"We see few customers going bankrupt, even fewer than before the coronavirus crisis. The ability to work remotely has resulted in higher revenue both in the Netherlands and Belgium. Many customers, including SMEs, are automating and switching to the cloud,” Paul Ramakers told Computable. Read the full article in Dutch on 

Since eight months, Paul Ramakers is the CEO of Exact. For Dutch ICT news platform Computable a reason to visit the headquarters in Delft – at a distance of one and a half metres – to evaluate his first months as CEO. His priorities, growth opportunities, cloud, automation, the corona crisis, a growth mindset, open-door policy and many other topics were discussed.

Priorities as CEO

Besides coronavirus, Ramakers feels the past year and 2021 has been dominated by the integration of Unit4 Bedrijfssoftware, which was incorporated in October 2020 and is resulting in a substantial expansion in the field of accountancy activities. By late 2021, the merger must be complete. Employees who would normally come into the office now work from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. From a technical perspective, it was easy to facilitate working from home. The main focus now remains on the social aspects of remote working, like feeling connected. Lastly, Ramakers wishes to make his mark when it comes to greener business operations and social responsibility. This doesn't have to reap immediate rewards for Exact; instead, he wants to give something back to society on the company's behalf.

Growth opportunities and innovation

Ramakers sees plenty of growth opportunities in the Netherlands and Belgium based on its own strengths and through acquisitions. Despite the Delta variant, Exact's objective of doubling revenue based on its own strengths and through growth in the period 2020-2025 remains unchanged.

We're working hard on automating manual tasks. The no-hands principle, for example, makes sure that accountants can scan purchase invoices and do not have to copy them. They go straight into the accounting software." This is where OCR (Optical Character Recognition) plays an important role. Exact also looks to AI applications for generating booking proposals automatically, for example.

Stimulate, learn and ownership

From junior staff member to CEO – over the course of a quarter of a century (26 years with a single employer), Paul Ramakers made his way to the top of the Delft-based software company. As a typical Exact trait, he mentions the entrepreneurial mentality that many customers have, which can also be found at their software vendor. Stimulate, learn and develop, take initiatives, and ownership are all terms widely used for modern forms of collaboration. Ramakers calls it a 'growth mindset'. Ramakers hopes to lead a company where people want to "get out of their comfort zone" every now and then.

Trust and open-door policy

Ramakers explains that it is important for everyone within a company to maintain trust in each other – even if an idea turns out differently to what was expected He wants to offer everyone at Exact a similar environment. Things go wrong in a company, and it's about learning from them and coming out the other side stronger and together. He also feels it is important to celebrate successes.

The CEO has a workstation in an open-plan office. Employees can usually drop by for a meeting. Confidential discussions take place in a closed meeting room, but the idea of having an open-door policy is that the CEO is usually available to staff. Given that so many employees are working from home, the idea of an office being like a kitchen table at which everyone can sit is somewhat different in the present situation, although the CEO wants to remain available, even in a digital world. At the end, he simply wants employees and customers to return soon to create a buzz in the Delft head office once again.

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