“The continuous growth and increasing complexity of processes compel the finance department to automate more.”

– Fé Zenner, CFO at ML6
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Determining Automations and Optimisations Every Quarter 

The core tasks of Gent-based ML6 are machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). However, this specific focus on technology necessitates that ML6 constantly reinvents and adapts itself. “We live in a rapidly changing world, especially in terms of technology,” says CFO Fé Zenner.

The continuous growth and increasing complexity of processes compel the finance department to automate more and more manual, repetitive tasks. For reporting, Zenner relied on BrightAnalytics. “This reporting tool allows us to eliminate manual tasks, saving us a tremendous amount of time. Additionally, it acts as a control mechanism, reducing our margin of error. Deploying the right technology at the right time is crucial in an international context.”

“Time-consuming and Routine Work”

Based on what criteria does Zenner initiate new automations? “When automating, we look at processes that are very time-consuming and routine. These processes prevent us from performing other tasks well and consume unnecessary time, money, and focus.”

“What we find important, depending on the process, is that we first experience the process manually for a certain period so that we are familiar with it. Simultaneously, we gain an understanding of the numbers involved. This way, we know what is genuinely required during an automation transition. It’s only when you go through a process for a while that you understand your needs.”

“Providing Challenging Work for Accountants”

Furthermore, Zenner emphasizes the importance of incorporating automations as additional control mechanisms or reducing and even eliminating margins of error. “Naturally, we want to offer our people challenging work, including our accountants,” she says. “There are many exciting and challenging projects they can be engaged in. It’s illogical to have them perform highly operational and routine tasks when we can easily automate these processes. This way, they can function more as controllers and contribute more added value.”

“No Hands Accounting”

ML6 uses Exact Online accounting software. “A while ago, we opted for Exact Online’s No Hands Accounting,” Zenner explains. “This allows invoices to be automatically processed based on AI. It’s a self-learning robot that, using historical transactions and an algorithm, ensures the direct allocation to the correct ledger account.”

This is an example of an optimisation or automation that ML6 did not need to ponder for long. “Our accountant quickly reviews these bookings, but it saves them so much time… For us, this automation was a no-brainer. We could easily replace the dull and operational work with this system. It’s easy to implement and has provided significant added value.”

“Software That Synchronizes with Existing Tools”

For time tracking, ML6 relies on Teamleader Orbit. “It’s software from a Belgian company that essentially meets all our needs,” Zenner points out. “You can see that the team continuously improves its product based on feedback and customer inquiries. Teamleader Orbit takes into account customer needs, and if issues are reported and multiple companies encounter the same problem, it becomes part of their roadmap. Additionally, the team provides excellent service. If you have a question or encounter any difficulties, strong customer support comes to your aid.”

“The software also synchronizes with all the other tools we use. Invoices are generated in the tool from a time-tracking perspective and are automatically posted in Exact Online. We are very satisfied with it.”

“A Backlog of Pending Projects”

Finally, how is the priority set in the choice of automation? “We determine this based on time, routine work, and the maturity of the process,” says Zenner. “We have a sense of when a process needs to be automated. Additionally, we maintain a backlog of various automations and efficiency improvements we want to implement. Every quarter, we gather as a complete team and assess how much time we have available to work on projects, separate from day-to-day finance tasks.”

Zenner then prioritizes projects based on this backlog. “Before a quarter begins, we decide: these projects yes, these projects no. We also avoid taking on too many projects simultaneously. Automations require time to implement and demand the necessary care and expertise. For instance, the implementation of the reporting tool in BrightAnalytics was a project I took on during a specific quarter. It was planned because we felt the need for change.”

Decisions are primarily made as a team, but there is also consultation with management. “It depends on the size and impact of the project on the company. We have both small and large projects. When implementing the reporting tool, we also coordinated with management. Everyone needs to be aware of such projects…”