Wolters Kluwer’s finance department is becoming keener, faster and more intuitive. In other words: ‘We have more time for the fun, analytical parts of the job’, says Angelique Rooijmans.
Wolters Kluwer has gone through what can only be described as a technology. First, the 183-year-old publisher made the switch from print to digital, and then it transformed itself into a provider of software solutions for lawyers, doctors, accountants, lawyers and other professionals. Today, it provides high-quality professional information alongside advanced technology that firms serving other businesses desperately need in their daily work. According to its 2018 annual report, around 88% of Wolters Kluwer’s business now comes from digital & services for its customers – and, by extension, for their customers too. Take, for example, a surgeon who can look on an iPad to check the specific knowledge needed to carry out an operation. Or a data analysis tool which allows a lawyer to analyse a particular judge’s rulings and alter their arguments for a new case accordingly. It is no wonder that more software engineers and data scientists than editors work at Wolters Kluwer nowadays.
From controller to business partner
Angelique Rooijmans leads the Business Analysis & Control department, part of the corporate finance function of the multinational information services firm. ‘We analyse all our financial results and report back to the board’, she explains. ‘Our main goal is to understand how our results relate to our corporate strategy and objectives, and where we need to make adjustments.’ Rooijmans was previously Head of Program Management at Wolters Kluwer’s Global Platform Organisation. ‘GPO is responsible for creating digital solutions for Wolters Kluwer business units worldwide’, she says. ‘We constantly look at how we can create added value with new digital products for customer processes.’ With this experience in mind, she believes it is time to implement more digitalisation in the finance department of the business itself. ‘We are working on further digitalising the financial function because we want to operate more effectively and efficiently, with a focus on the customer’, she says. ‘My customers are the Wolters Kluwer business units worldwide. The better we set up our processes and provide business-related insights, the better they can create value for their customers.’ This means that the finance department needs to get out of its comfort zone and into a new role: ‘If you used to be a controller who only reported to the CFO, you are now more of a business partner who can advise all departments strategically’, she explains. ‘That requires different skills.’
‘A finance controller is now more of
a business partner
who can advise departments strategically’
Angelique Rooijmans has worked for Wolters Kluwer since 2012. She was first Global Program Manager and Head of Program Management, and last year she became Vice President Business Analysis & Control. She previously worked for Shell, Philips and PwC.
Ever better predictions
Right now, the business software provider is rolling out its own product, CCH Tagetik, internally. ‘This is a software solution that uses algorithms and self-learning to turn data inputs into predictive forecasting’, Rooijmans says. ‘This could be very valuable for our finance team. It means we can look at our financial KPIs in a different way: we will test our own predictions against our software’s forecasts, which are all displayed on dashboards and very easy to overview. We expect the software to really improve the conversation between financial and non-financial teams. We will also be able to link financial data to other data such as sales or HR more easily, which considerably broadens the scope of our function.’
Profitable new products
Wolters Kluwer’s digital transformation is also helping it develop profitable new products and services, says Rooijmans: ‘For example, we have developed CCHiQ, an AI tool that uses algorithms to allow an accountant to see immediately which clients are affected by new regulations, and help to advise them.’
At the touch of a button, accountants can then send those customers an e-mail that provides insights into the consequences of a new tax measure that affects them specifically, advising them on what they can do about it. ‘Accountants appreciate this enormously, because they cannot proactively approach hundreds of customers themselves’, she points out. ‘For some of them, there is another advantage: they find it rather difficult to sell their services personally, and so they really see CCHiQ as a win.’
Faster and more intuitive So, is the internal digital transformation going fast enough for Rooijmans?
‘We are a company with processes, systems and a long history’, she admits. ‘You can't just sweep all that away. We are making progress in stages, and you also have to involve your employees. The young generation grew up in a digital world, and are quick to get on board. But ‘digital’ isn’t self-evident for all employees, including myself.’ But the clear benefits of digitalisation soon win people over. ‘With the new software, we no longer have to enter data multiple times, and our work has become much faster and more intuitive’,
she says. ‘Being efficient gives you more time for the fun, more analytical aspects of the work, spotting trends and looking ahead. That’s a huge step forward.’
‘We will test our own predictions against our
Sector: Information services | Workforce: Around 18.600 in 180 countries | Finance department: Several hundred | Turnover 2018: € 4,3 billion | Net profit in 2018: € 650 million
Read more inspirational cases in our special THE DIGITAL CFO
The CFO's of ground-breaking corporates such as KPN, NS, Ordina, Randstad and Wolters Kluwer give insights into their own, unique approach to digitalisation. And discover how BDO's integrated approach makes the most of the opportunities which digital transformation can bring.