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Leentje, Matthijs and Simon take care of Flanders real estate heritage

Key messages

Financial reporting in Non-profit organization

Data processing

Co-creation

There were several and various needs when Project Manager Leentje Osselaer started working for Herita. No problem, TriFinance had the required expertise to meet these challenges: Project Consultants Matthijs Boussery and Simon Goderis came on board. The assignment of the three of them? To further professionalize the financial policy at Herita, the non-profit organization that monitors the real estate heritage in Flanders for the government and is known for its annual Open Monumentendag (Heritage Day).

Herita is the Flemish 'National Trust' following the example of Great Britain. Leentje Osselaer (47) became the right hand of Herita's general manager. It is her first project for TriFinance, where she has been working since April 2019 for the Blue Chip Boutique (BCB) 'Public Sector'. Leentje studied Applied Economic Sciences at the KULeuven and has already many kilometers on the counter of her career. At her previous employer, the non-profit organization Natuurpunt, she was the financial director for 8 years. Before that, she was the financial coordinator of an NGO working in development cooperation for 6 years.

Experienced Leentje provides insights in the numbers

"I am pleased that the project at Herita is a long one because it gives us the time to make the changes that we, together with the customer, come up with and implement them, penetrate the minds of everyone involved very thoroughly," says Leentje. She is working on streamlining processes and looking at the needs to optimize finance management. Her coordinating tasks include, for example, the link between finance administration and content, reporting to the board of directors, and support with financial questions raised by the government.

"My work revealed that insufficient attention was being paid to substantive reporting. There was a need for more insight into their financial reports in order to optimize their policy. Insight into subsidy flows, donations, costs, investments, repairs and so on," Leentje points out. In order to automate this reporting, Herita consulted several companies and chose TriFinance's offer. Project Consultant Matthijs Boussery (27) of the Blue Chip Boutique 'Management Information & Systems' (MI&S) started implementing Power BI in the organization.

Matthijs working on becoming an expert in data processing

Matthijs studied Public Administration and Public Management at UGent, and has been working for TriFinance since 2016, his first employer. He already did projects in several sectors such as credit management in the financial sector, merger analysis in the healthcare sector, reorganization of services and processes in the cultural sector. First Matthijs was part of the BCB Public and for a year and a half now he has been working for the BCB MI&S, where he started to focus on Power BI. It is his ambition to continue in this field and, more generally, to become an expert in data processing.

That insight came gradually. "I was doing supportive activities in the beginning. That's valuable because it lays a foundation for further work. The collaboration with colleagues who each have their own expertise, within a BCB and across the boundaries of the units, keeps me enthusiastic. I also learned a lot from the knowledge circles that TriFinance organizes. All this made me realize that the analysis of financial processes is what I prefer. During my last projects for BCB Public, I did interviews on reporting and I felt I needed more knowledge in order to be able to continue asking questions. Partly due to conversations with my coach, I chose to switch to MI&S," Matthijs explains. At Herita, he is doing a Power BI project from A to Z. It's also the first time that he is providing the training for the client.

Matthijs covered that flank for Leentje. "I continued to focus on my supportive and sustainable project work,” she says. Leentje was given the additional task of scrutinizing the financial reporting to the board of directors. Together with others, she worked out what the board wanted to visualize in terms of data, including non-financial data. A model was developed for the strategic working group within Herita.

Here, too, Leentje encountered additional obstacles. Project Consultant Simon Goderis (26) of the BCB Public was called in to get the work done on time and to work out a reusable model. A financial analysis and a model were needed for each of the nine sites that Herita manages, such as the Royal Palace on the Meir in Antwerp, the Tram Museum in Schepdaal, the Fort Napoleon in Ostend, the Mill of Hoeke in Damme and the Abbey of Herkenrode in Hasselt. 

The fact that we work together across the borders of the Blue Chip Boutiques is an absolute added value of TriFinance. It is a win for the client, because every task is executed in the best way.
Leentje Osselaer

Simon Goderis likes implementing ERP systems and reporting tools.

Simon, like Matthijs, obtained a master's degree in Public Administration and Public Management at UGent. TriFinance is also his first employer and he has been working there since February 2019. In his previous project, Simon managed master data for a multinational company. At Herita, he needs to draw the financial picture for each site and mold it into a model that makes it easier and more knowledgeable to conduct policy. "I have many conversations with those involved and make forecasts far into the future. I start from the existing situation, check the books and estimate what the operating income will be, for example from running the cafeteria," Simon explains. 

Of course, his calculations include government subsidies, most of the income. He then has to deal with questions such as: how much percentage of the paintwork does the government pay? "The model must be able to indicate what the consequences would be if the government's subsidy were to fall by, say, 20 percent." Simon's experience so far has led to a growing interest in systems, applications, and technology. "It's the path I want to take: implementing ERP systems and reporting tools," he points out.

Leentje also says she is learning a lot. "Of course, I learn a lot about real estate investments and maintenance plans. My social skills deepen through my work with the finance department, the general manager and the board of directors. I take the time, without abruptness, to introduce the changes to everyone and allow them to seep through until everyone involved is aware of the novelties. Simon and Matthijs each have their own expertise and they too have taught me a lot about aspects of financial policy. I prefer to work from a helicopter viewpoint and feel most at ease when doing projects that combine multiple facets".

"The fact that we work together across the borders of the Blue Chip Boutiques is an absolute added value of TriFinance. It is a win for the client, because every task is executed in the best way. For the consultant it is fun and motivating to be able to use his expertise, to learn from the others and to achieve the best result together as a 'temporary' team," concludes Leentje.

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