Sophie Wildeboer: "The goal of integration is to harness the joint growth potential that comes from it."

At Exact, we always have one eye on innovation. We pursue it by growing organically and strengthening our portfolio through various acquisitions. This enables us to evolve according to developments in the market and our customers' needs. As CFO Alexander Rahusen stated in a previous interview: "When looking at potential acquisitions, we consider the joint growth potential." Exact recently completed several important acquisitions, including Unit4 Bedrijfssoftware, Gripp and GO2UBL. But what happens once a company is taken over, exactly?

Sophie Wildeboer has been Exact's Portfolio & Integration Director since September 2020 and is responsible for ensuring the successful integration of (future) acquisitions. She previously worked for The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), ABN AMRO and

What does the Exact Portfolio & Integration team do, exactly?

"When handling an acquisition, the M&A team – which is responsible for the actual acquisitions – ensures that the deal is concluded. Once this is done, this puts the integration team in the position of being able to oversee the onboarding and integration process. The top priority is to make people feel welcome at Exact. In addition, we ensure the acquisition complies with Exact's guidelines on IT security, accounting and reporting, HR and so on. We have developed a framework that we use as the basis for shaping the integration journey. While there are always nuances and exceptions, it serves as a guide and ensures everyone is on the same page."

What is the goal of integration?

"We believe we can create more value together. In addition to our financial products, we offer specific solutions for accountants, manufacturing companies, wholesalers, service providers and others. The aim of integration is to be able to offer our customers a single platform for all their business processes, thereby simplifying their administration. This allows us to fully harness the joint growth potential, while Exact customers will often receive access to the acquired party's solutions quickly. The acquired party, in turn, benefits from Exact's brand recognition. Another reason for integration is efficiency, or a single way of working.

At the same time, we try to give those within the acquired company as many opportunities as possible to pursue their entrepreneurial endeavours. After all, this is often the driving force behind growth – something that requires constant momentum. The choice of whether or not to integrate something very much depends on the value it delivers for both our customers and Exact."

How long does an integration process last and what does it depend on?

"It depends very much on the agreements we make with each other in advance; our initial focus is always on 'onboarding' the organisation. It also depends on the acquisition plans and the extent to which the acquired company can independently meet the growth targets that have been jointly agreed. Some acquisitions are intended to add a new product or level of knowledge to Exact's portfolio. Through acquisitions, Exact gains access to a new part of the market or geographical area. For example, bouw7 is an all-in-one platform that improves all traditional construction processes. It is fully integrated with Exact Online, our cloud software for entrepreneurs and accountants. Customers benefit from the fact that it is part of Exact, because Exact is able to enrich the overall proposition. We also fully integrate it on an organisational level, not least by adding marketing and sales expertise."

When dealing with an acquisition, it is important to be sensitive to various things. What should be kept in mind above all else?

"In general, entrepreneurs are accustomed to a great deal of autonomy. This mindset has taken them a long way, and our mutual challenge is to ensure they retain it as much as possible. Of course, a number of things will see changes after becoming part of the wider Exact family.  This can call for some adjustment on the part of those entrepreneurs who have founded a start-up or scale-up. Of course, we always do this in joint consultation.
In the end, people are an inextricable part of the acquisition. You're buying a product, but you're also taking on an organisation. The team and expertise are very valuable. This is a constant source of attention. We could just say something like: here's the pot of red Exact paint. But that's not how it works. We can also learn a lot from the way other companies work. Our own progress as a company comes from change. This is why acquisitions are a welcome source of inspiration. Ultimately, we're striving to have the best of both worlds."

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are about to undergo an integration process?

"Be ready to discuss everything and in good time. If anything is unclear, just ask. Make sure you indicate what is important for you and the rest of your organisation.
Sometimes, for example, the acquired organisation may not be that sure about what Exact wants or how and when the integration process will take place. In consultation with the M&A team, we try to make sure all important matters are discussed and that the only promises made by each party are ones that can be met.
We do this in an 'agile' way: continuously look at what can be improved and make adjustments as required. Ultimately, the way you shape the integration process will determine the degree of success. While the product has to be good, the people are the ones who ensure it can soar."

Business software

Media contact

Are you looking for more information on this subject, would you like to request an interview, or do you have any other media-related questions? Please contact our head of Corporate Communications Annemarije Dérogée via
EN Select your country