Paul van der Koore Alfa Case iWRITER

CLIENT STORY

Alfa Accountants and Advisors create a sustainable world for customer & employee

Alfa pays attention to people. The financial service provider very emphatically combines the business side of entrepreneurial life with the human side. At Alfa, her customers, employees and nature all come first. Alfa is active in SMEs and the agricultural sector. This has helped Alfa realize that nature conservation is of vital importance. The organization has had the B Corp certificate for years and Alfa has the ambition to become the most sustainable accountant in the Netherlands. One of the sustainability projects that contribute to this goal is the digital signature. iWRITER has introduced the digital signature and template management, giving an annual paper reduction of 1 million prints.

Stand alongside customer and employee

Alfa is an accountancy and consultancy firm that is active nationwide within the agricultural sector and SMEs. They are in the top 10 of largest accountancy firms in the Netherlands and within the agricultural sector they are one of the largest. Alfa keeps its customers up-to-date on their current financial status and their vision of the future. Alfa is not only responsible for the annual accounts and the financial reporting, it adds value by proactively advising the customer. Alfa’s advice is given in advance and in the interim rather than in hindsight. The accountants act as sparring partners, give ongoing advice and offer flexibility. Customers receive real-time information, interim reports, adjustments and a forecast. With 33 branches and more than 900 employees Alfa is ‘Always nearby.

Paul van der Koore works at the head office in Wageningen. He is program manager, functional manager and ICT trainer. Currently he is mainly occupied with the adoption of Office 365. His 12.5 years of experience at Alfa has made him exceptionally good at getting employees involved in digital changes. Paul: "We train our employees as thoroughly as possible and facilitate them to stay on top of digital developments. The long-term service of employees (25 years of service is no exception) and therefore a high average age are challenges in the ICT field. The transition to the cloud can be 'scary'. However, our policy plan is ICT-driven, so it is imperative that everyone develops the same digital skills. We match appropriate training per office and per individual."

Case Alfa Accountants & iWRITER

The power of small-scale business: local involvement

Alfa knows how to connect broad financial knowledge with specialist knowledge of the industry ranging from dairy farming, arable farming, poultry farming and greenhouse horticulture to retail and transport. Paul: "A number of offices excel in a specific sector. This is created naturally by the environment in which they work. For example, we advise many dairy farmers in Leeuwarden, many horticulturalists in Naaldwijk and our office in Aalsmeer focuses on transport. But in general our accountants are specialized in the entire industry. This links with our management model. We work from several decentralized clusters spread across the country. The big advantage of this is that we are close to the customer and are constantly building local sustainable relationships. We are aware of what is happening in the local community because we participate in local committees and are involved in local activities of entrepreneurs.”

The power of small-scale business has been one of the spearheads of the organization for years. Over the years, the sustainability of Alfa and its customers has also become part of the policy. Paul: "Here in Wageningen, but also around other Alfa offices, you are surrounded with beautiful nature. By means of sustainability projects, we continue to contribute to its conservation and to our ambition to be the most sustainable accountant in the Netherlands. For example, the garden in Wageningen is fully ecological and there are solar panels on several of the Alfa buildings. In order to take major strides, we have employed a sustainability advisor this past year. A sustainability plan is drawn up for each office. It concerns internal sustainability, such as building an energy-neutral office and installing LED lighting. But also advice and support for sustainable business practices for our customers."

Alfa Accountants & iWRITER

Printing, signing and scanning are now things of the past with the digital signature

"The first battle for sustainability was already won two years ago. That was when we started with iWRITER to provide our documents with a digital signature. This was the solution for the cumbersome process of printing, signing and scanning. With the digital signature we reduce our ecological footprint, we are more environmentally conscious and work more efficiently. We have also placed all of our templates in iWRITER, which will be linked to Office 365 in the future.

Three years ago, before we started using iWRITER, we already had a template management system in place. Unfortunately, the whole system was customized, so we had to wait a long time for changes to be made. Very few people knew the programming language, which made us completely dependent. There were only one or two people who could maintain it, making it an inconvenient system. In addition, it was very maintenance-sensitive and error-prone.

Managing templates has proven to be a difficult job in many ways in the past. First, each office had its own templates, which made it very confusing. I went looking for an external party that could offer a functional and intuitive app. I chose iWRITER."

"I went looking for an external party that could offer a functional and intuitive app. I chose iWRITER." - Paul van der Koore, Alfa Accountants & Advisors

Office 365 Adoption Project

Part of the sustainability and digitization is the introduction of Office 365. At the moment, there is often inefficient knowledge exchange between offices. Employees go looking for information which is already present. Paul uses Office 365 to ensure that information is exchanged digitally. In his ideal world everyone uses Yammer, all projects are carried out in Teams and all employees share information in SharePoint. In practice, an Office 365 adoption project must first precede this. Paul: "My job is not only to implement the applications, but I am also responsible for their adoption. In order to succeed, I focus on the ‘leaper’ in each cluster and give him/her the task of key user. Employees can be divided into three groups: leapers, bridge-builders and tradition holders. If the bridge-builders see that a leaper’s application works efficiently, they will also 'adopt' it and after a while the tradition-holders will also follow. For example, I introduced OneNote to the 21-year-old secretary who let the staff of the cluster experience the technology.

I have done the implementation of iWRITER together with the head of the secretarial department. 400 templates needed to be converted. We looked at the content and details per template. Subsequently, a team of secretaries was gathered who were instructed to fill 400 templates in two months. After two months, everyone was able to work with templates that were centrally managed and met our brand identity and compliance guidelines. "

"After two months, everyone was able to work with templates that were centrally managed and met our brand identity and compliance guidelines." - Paul van der Koore, Alfa Accountants and Advisors

iWRITER: a simple self-service solution

The external communication is also in line with the management model. Each office completes the central newsletter with local news and reports local news on the Alfa website. However, Alfa has now centralized the template management for newsletters and other external communication. Paul: "We can change all templates ourselves and easily remove mistakes. The product speaks for itself, it is user-friendly and intuitive. At iWRITER they understand that you shouldn’t make it harder than it needs to be."

Alfa works with 400 templates. All templates are standardized. Paul inserts the ready-to-use building block into the templates. A selection of the templates that Alfa employees use:

  • Letters
  • Discussion summaries and reports
  • Notes
  • Annual reports

All colleagues need to use templates. A secretary can request a report with the correct corporate identity at the touch of a button. An accountant can do the same with an annual report. Customer data, such as names and addresses, is easily added because of the link with our CRM system.

Paul van der Koore Alfa
"iWRITER works entirely according to your wishes. Through the link with our CRM system AFAS, the contact details are easily imported into the template."
Paul van der Koore, Alfa Accountants & Advisors

Paul definitely recommends iWRITER: "iWRITER works entirely according to your wishes. Through the link with our CRM system AFAS, the contact details are easily imported into the template. When the document is ready, it is moved to our archive system at the touch of a button. The simplicity of iWRITER is what makes the product so impressive and it gives us the efficient work processes we were looking for."

In the past year we achieved a paper reduction of 34%, which amounts to 1 million prints. Also, Alfa has been B Corp certified for a number of years. This means that we want to realize our profit in a socially responsible manner, while keeping our sights on the three P's; people, planet and profit. Customers appreciate our sustainable view on service. More and more customers want to do business with us because everything we have to offer is digital and sustainable.

Whitepaper: Adopting Office 365 in three steps

Do you want to implement Office 365? How can you convince everyone of the usefulness of Office 365? Which strategy do you use and how do you get the most out of the new digital workplace?

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