With the help of DevOps teams, Onguard migrated its platform to the cloud 

With the help of DevOps teams, Onguard migrated its platform to the cloud 

Boost your order-to-cash process

With all the current focus on digital transformation, you could easily overlook the fact that purchasing, production, and sales go hand in hand with invoices and financial flows. Besides a healthy IT landscape, a healthy cash flow is necessary for companies to survive.

To properly monitor the order-to-cash chain, you need to combine all kinds of data from different systems. For the past 15 years, Tim Blok has been working at Onguard, an Amsterdam-based software company that was acquired by Norwegian Visma in early 2020. Blok started out as software developer and has been responsible for product development and technology within Onguard as company CTO for two years.

“Generally, finance departments will have largely automated their processes, but certain sub-processes often still require manual work,” says Blok. “Within most large companies, a large team will be occupied with following up on outstanding invoices. There are various reasons why invoices are paid late, or not at all. There might be an error on the invoice, or an issue with the payment. Someone might not be satisfied with the service provided, and in some cases financial problems may play a part. Even if the cause lies with the debtor, it is important to find a solution together. After all, a good customer relationship is of the utmost importance.”

“Well-coordinated business processes, a clear overview of finances, and insight into customers are indispensable. Automation can support financial departments in making the right choices, even in the case of complex problems that require manual work.”

Today’s providers can make a difference by facilitating integrations and links.

Tim Blok, CTO Visma | Onguard 

Easy integration is essential 

Visma | Onguard focuses mainly on companies with a turnover of €50 million or higher. In this market, finance departments will often have a dedicated team for credit management-related tasks – and they’ll also have a few automation issues. The market for financial software is competitive, according to Blok. “Today’s providers can make a difference by facilitating integrations and links. ERP solutions are often the source system for our products. What’s more, it is essential to have all the latest information from a variety of sources when following up on unpaid invoices – such as calling debtors with outstanding invoices of a minimum size. Keeping other applications in our customers’ landscape up-to-date of is also important, ensuring different departments have access to the same information. If contact has taken place, it is great if that can be properly recorded in other systems, such as a CRM application.”

“Large international companies tend to implement adjustments or new financial applications in phases, for example per country, over a longer period of time. With these types of applications, companies won’t make changes in a hurry, because of the complexity of implementation. Our software offers customers the possibility to fully configure processes and workflows according to their wishes, which is often quite complex. As a result, our customers remain on board for a long time.”

Making platforms scalable

Recently, Visma | Onguard has invested a great deal of of effort into setting up a platform where end users such as credit managers can easily retrieve information. In addition, a large amount of work has been done to make the most frequently requested APIs available, a prerequisite for a good positioning of point solutions. To this end, we have been working with IT service provider NetRom for quite some time. “Our products are fairly well developed in terms of features. We are now mainly working on making our solutions even more scalable, for example migrating to the public cloud. That requires a great deal of capacity on the development side. One of our biggest challenges is attracting talent. But that challenge also exists in countries such as Romania. If a developer needs to be added or replaced, NetRom can take care of that relatively quickly. Churn is low, which has to do with the quality of employership.”

Dedicated teams in Romania

Two to three NetRom DevOps teams in Romania work for Visma | Onguard. They take care of maintenance and management, renewing the user interface and modernizing code for the transition to the public cloud. In certain projects, teams are blended. In other cases, dedicated NetRom developer teams work independently on products such as CreditManager, a credit management solution that, among other things, identifies risk factors, provides insight into companies’ financial health, monitors invoices and enables credit managers to adequately follow up on overdue invoices. “All with the aim of reducing the DSO (days sales outstanding) and improving cash flow and without this being at the expense of the customer relationship,” says Blok. “For the ‘cloudification’ of applications, software remains unchanged in terms of operation and business rules – with the exception of a few smart choices here and there – but in terms of architecture, we’re looking at a complete overhaul.”

Customers benefit from developer loyalty 

What does Visma | Onguard expect from NetRom? “First and foremost, capacity and talent,” says Blok. “That’s where NetRom excels. In addition, it helps if developers feel a sense of loyalty. Some of them have been working for Visma | Onguard for over ten years. This ensures a great deal of domain knowledge and excellent quality. Of course, it’s great if your partners have a lot of knowledge, but we also take care of knowledge retention on our side, for example by internal developers who work closely with NetRom.”

How has the collaborative relationship developed? “At the beginning of our cooperation, I was working as a developer at Onguard,” Blok recalls. “At that time, NetRom was mainly working independently on the development of our applications, on behalf of just one product owner on our side. In that scenario, the ability to work independently on a new application was extremely efficient. Now, however, the situation is different, and we need to work together intensively. Huge steps have been taken in this area. NetRom’s developers now simply join in on calls with a customer if they have any technical questions. Ten years ago, that would have been hard to conceive.”

“Cooperation between our development teams and those at NetRom has been facilitated by the corona pandemic. Online collaboration has become a daily practice, which has improved collaboration. Tools such as digital whiteboards are also available, replacing walls covered in Post-Its.”

About Visma | Onguard

Visma is a Norwegian company that provides SMEs, large enterprises, and the semi-public sector with complete cloud solutions for accounting, financial administration, wholesale and project administration, and accountancy. Visma group has made a large number of acquisitions in recent years, including HR service provider Raet and PinkWeb. At the beginning of 2020, Visma acquired company Onguard from private equity firm Main Capital. Onguard is a Dutch provider of various order-to-cash solutions, aimed at managing financial processes within large organizations. These include risk management, automating parts of accounting (for insiders: reconciliation), debtor monitoring and collection for cooperation with collection agencies. The company serves more than 30.000 business users across 700 companies, including Aon, Schiphol, and LLOYDS Bank.

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