Companies in the construction industry often need a project report in addition to a financial one, in order to closely follow up construction sites. This also applies to the leading total partner for construction projects Verhelst Group from Ostend. They decided to switch all their reporting to BrightAnalytics. The result? Insight squared.
When Dries Devroe, CFO of the Verhelst Group, was shown a demo of BrightAnalytics by a fellow CFO, he was immediately intrigued. “In fact, our reporting was running very awkwardly at the time,” he begins. “We are a leading, progressive, family-owned construction company with six areas of expertise and a total of 15 companies. Financial and consolidated reporting is required, as well as project reporting. This is a report on the Verhelst Aannemingen sites, which serves as a basis for the monthly discussions with our site managers. Until recently, this was done via Excel and QlikView, on which there was a reporting layer that made the link with our accounting package KPD. However, this reporting was never properly developed, and even after many attempts we could not get it fixed. When I saw the visual power and ease of use of BrightAnalytics, I decided to sit around the drawing board again, starting from scratch with a white sheet.”
After asking a few BrightAnalytics references about their experiences with the tool, Dries made up his mind. “You know, getting a demo is always fun and nice. You get to see the best features and functionalities, and everything is nice and fancy. Questioning references, gives a more honest picture. But everyone I spoke with was raving about the tool. Less than a month later, BrightAnalytics was up and running”, he continues. “We started with the standard product: the financial reporting. This meant that a good product was immediately on the table. Everything works perfectly, especially when we want to click through and zoom in on ledger accounts, analytical accounts, invoices … It’s all possible. It is a great advantage that BrightAnalytics is a Belgian company, with Belgian accounting as its basis. You can see that in everything: designations, classifications …”
Initially, project reporting was still done via Excel, but Dries now also uses BrightAnalytics for this purpose. “It’s about an extra P&L, driven by the analytical cost type. Each site has an income statement and a site report on which we can follow up everything from A to Z in detail and from close by. This is important, because a construction site is an open environment with many parameters that can influence our efficiency. We use the reports from BrightAnalytics in our monthly meetings with site and project managers. This allows us to better monitor performance and capture additional work so that we can bill it on. Per site, per project manager and per site manager we have a complete overview of the turnover, the costs and the margin.”
Wasn’t it difficult to link BrightAnalytics to KPD for this purpose? “That was sorted out in no time at all. One of BrightAnalytics’ advantages is that it is a well-developed organisation with a commercial department, a back office, etc. When you ask a question, you get an answer within a day. They are very flexible. And that is what a company like ours needs today. We have to be able to react quickly. We can’t leave problems on a site lying around either.”
For the consolidation of the figures, Verhelst Group had a number of additional consolidation reports made in addition to the standard consolidation tool, depending on the consolidation method used for their 15 companies. “Those reports were tailored for us, and allow us to gain additional consolidated insight into performance. We have defined four groups of activities – contracting, recycling, machinery and overhead – and this enables us to make up the subconsolidation as well as the consolidation for the entire group. Among other things, this gives us insight into the origin of our results. That works so smoothly that we are now at a point where it becomes feasible to consolidate every quarter.”
Would Dries in turn recommend the tool to others? “Absolutely. Because it is so easy and intuitive to use, and it is reasonably priced. It also has fun features: you can add comments, share views with your colleagues... You can also feel the West-Flemish mentality of the company behind the scenes. There is ‘poer’ in it, as we say. They just do. Moreover, they continue to invest in technology and in their people. That way you know as a customer: I always have the latest developments available.”