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The most dangerous statement in a company is: “We have always done it that way”

Key messages

Look for continuous improvement

Think differently

Ask for the 'why'

The project consisted of reviewing key compliance processes within the Finance department followed by the implementation of our recommendations. The processes analyzed covered the implementation of the ‘4-eyes principle’ for manual journal entries, the review and organization of segregation of duties and setting-up a “justification of accounts” process.

Client

Our client is one of the market leaders for consumer credits in Belgium and the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. It is part of a big group and has to follow its group norms. The company grew exponentially over the last ten years.

Why TriFinance?

Thanks to both our previous track record within the group and our specific TriFinance approach combining our know-how (advice, expertise) with our do-how (implementation) we were able to optimally support the client. It was important for the client that we not only came up with a solution but that we also implemented this solution.Our project team was composed of two consultants and a solutions manager accountable for the quality assurance. Key stakeholders of the client completed this team by participating in weekly checkpoint meetings.

The challenge

In a short period of four months, we were asked to spot breaches with the group norms and were expected to come up with various solutions. This required a thorough understanding of the way of working within the finance department, the systems used and specific requirements of the business in order to be able to implement the adequate changes in an efficient and sustainable manner.Quite understandably we faced some resistance to change. Over the last decade, the procedures and systems barely evolved and needed to be challenged. We tried to involve the key end-users as much as possible by soliciting their views and asking their consent before implementing the solution. The general idea throughout the project was to continuously look for improvements in order to reduce the added workload needed to comply with the norms.

For example, when asking the team to perform the added 4-eyes controls, we looked to improve the workflow to free the team from unnecessary tasks and inefficiencies by using digital and automated solutions.
 

I strongly believe in continuous improvement. Working on this project showed me that the most dangerous phrase in a company remains: “We have always done it that way”. François Hofman - Project Consultant Financial Institutions

The result

After four months, we were glad to confirm that the required changes were executed. The team still had to adapt to the new processes as it couldn’t be perfect from day one. We knew that it would need time and perseverance, but it also needed to be subject to continuous improvement. We could only achieve this by having a “challenging attitude”, trying to regularly ask ourselves the “why” of our tasks. An important attitude in today’s context!

In addition to this, we proactively prepared a full review of the whole organization of the Finance department and gave our recommendations and suggestions for improvement. During this exercise, we compared actual processes with trends in financial institutions.

The client appreciated our approach and the fact that we easily got along with the systems and processes. He also found it very important that we listened to the team and got their buy-in in order to make sure that we were on the right path.

Our successful collaboration resulted in an extension of the project with the client asking us to look at other topics within the team.

Learnings

From a personal point of view, I enjoyed being involved in this project because I had the full picture of the majority of the operations in the department and received a lot of freedom to suggest new ideas. For instance, when looking into their new business intelligence tool, I tried to identify reporting needs that were prepared manually to automate them in the new tool. This sometimes required adaptations of the way of working, requiring again change and people management skills.

Thanks to the support and mentoring from the experienced consultant and solutions manager I could always double-check and work efficiently on the proposed solutions.

I learned a lot from preparing and participating in presentations or meetings with different managers. The meetings helped me to develop my people management skills. On the one hand, we worked closely with the operational team and on the other hand, we were discussing consequent changes with the management. I have the feeling that the client’s staff also benefited from our collaboration.

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