In September 2017, Randstad and Cloud 9 Group began to cooperate to develop a system that supports several innovative Randstad projects related to its management of accounts receivables. Randstad Global Treasury considered multiple partners on the development of this project. During the selection and the proof-of-concept phase, Cloud 9 Group came out ahead as the most suitable partner for Randstad. Currently ongoing developments represent the second phase of the project, following the successful completion of the first phase in June 2018. The second phase includes further extensions to the systems functionality and other enhancements.
In preparation for this article, we spoke with Maurice Corver, CEO of Cloud 9 Group, and Lendert Baljeu, Manager Global Project at Randstad Global Treasury, for background information.
Randstad processes about 1 million invoices per day and has certain unique requirements. Initially we had our eyes set on internal Randstad IT departments and external vendors of databases. A generic database can be very flexible and has the ability to process lots of data. The drawback is however, that then you start from scratch and work with people with limited content knowledge. That is why we have looked at companies specialised in processing accounts receivable data. To our surprise, some distributors were willing to redevelop their own product to suit our needs.
Cloud 9 Group did well with a limited dataset as part of the proof-of-concept phase, but their system was not originally designed to process our exceptionally large quantities of data. At Cloud 9 Group they were open about this, and the fact that they were not sure what issues they would face during implementation. Together, we discussed various potential issues and identified potential solutions. These conversations gave my Randstad colleagues confidence to proceed with Cloud 9. Currently, we receive several hundreds of thousands of records each day and we are still very satisfied with the performance and the processing speed of the system. What I find striking about our business relationship is that there is a great deal of openness and trust.
Another issue that became apparent in the selection process is that Cloud 9 Group is a small company and Maurice, the CEO, plays an important role. This created a fear that the company was perhaps too dependent on this key man. We asked about this in reference calls and were told that this was not as it seemed. Here we felt we were taking a bit of a leap. However, with a few months into the project, this fear had dissipated. We learned that several people at Cloud9 understand the system fully. It didn`t take long before Maurice, delegated the project to his people effectively.
Another very important issue in the selection process was data security. My Randstad colleagues that are specialized in this field investigated Cloud 9 Group further on this issue. In the end, my colleagues were very satisfied with the controls that were established and maintained for data security.
It is really great that a company the size of Randstad had confidence in our abilities to adopt such a new system that creates a certain level of dependence on us. They were looking for an innovative solution that provided certain improvements. After careful consideration of options, they took what might appear to be a calculated risk in selecting Cloud 9 Group. I am really proud of that fact and we are all beginning to see the fruits of our cooperation and that their decision has been validated.
Our existing platform meets the requirements of most companies once the right settings have been selected and, perhaps, some limited tailoring has taken place. In the case of Randstad, we copied the existing platform and created a new one. This instance is fully custom made to meet the specific requirements of Randstad Global Treasury. Amongst others, the Randstad system had to be able to internally and externally sell receivables, manage insurance, calculate a complicated management charge and share information on customers’ creditworthiness with dozens of in-country Randstad organisations. On top of this, Randstad also wanted to use our tools to manage outstanding receivables more efficiently.
In order to meet these requirements, several calculations are necessary as well as interfaces with other parties such as banks, insurers and credit agencies. We are experienced at doing calculations and implementing interfaces with these parties. We also had to be quite flexible in satisfying the client’s on-going needs, as not all requirements where fully clarified at inception. For example, we have ensured that the platform is fully scalable and grows with data volume. If new Randstad companies or countries are included, the data is absorbed in the system without any issues. This requires no manual intervention whatsoever.
We have seen that almost everything that we came up with was possible during this journey and could be implemented quickly. This is because they know their product well and are therefore not afraid to change things or add new features. Maurice and his team have been very open on the fact that our cooperation has inspired them. Additional functionality that we jointly developed for the Randstad solution has now been included in the generic environment for the benefit of other clients. We celebrate this together and it proves that our cooperation is exactly the type of win-win business relationship that Randstad seeks to develop.
We also see that Cloud 9 Group proactively shares insights with us and offers unsolicited solutions. A few weeks ago, they saw my colleagues struggling with missing data and they came up with a clever mechanism to, in certain situations, pause the automatic load of data. This saves us a lot of work and I did not even start thinking of this possibility. Working together like this with a vendor gives lots of energy.
Maurice’s closing comments
Our team really likes to challenge itself, think outside the box and come up with something that is genuinely innovative. Randstad has a similar perspective and that is unique for a company that size. This perspective and the open communication make it a pleasure to work together. Overall, I think we have put together something that is special and I am looking forward to seeing how this cooperation and the system will continue to develop over time.