Anemari Ionescu is Director Digital Solutions at KPMG Romania
What was the level of digitalisation in your centre before COVID-19?
KPMG is going through a complex transformation process both internal, for our employees, and external, for our clients. It is driven by digitalization concept and is impacting entire company on all levels. Based on the already implemented steps we managed to react fast, to adapt and to provide the so much needed support inside and outside our organization during this crisis. We have a large and diverse menu of in-house developed solutions that helps our customers, regardless the industry, through their digitalization journey. We are targeting with these type of solutions automation of specific processes of Audit, Tax & Legal, Risk Management processes.
In parallel, we are expanding our area of partnerships with leading companies specialized in the field of digital transformation to create technology solutions dedicated for sales, HR, legal and procurement departments.
Some examples: Device Ordering – automated recording sales orders, inventories checks, budget checks, client data input, discounts checks and booking, submitting request to commercial department; Payroll Data – processing salary expenses, bonuses, timesheets, holidays; Audit Vouch – automatically vouching process for Sales, Inventories, Purchases Audit procedures; VAT Validation – automated validation of VAT statements, uploaded in the dedicated platform and sent via email to requestors; KYC Litigation – automated search for active litigation and custom build reports;; Corporate Tax Manager – automating the computation of corporate income tax; RPA and chatbots for automation of repetitive tasks and for speeding up the communication and response time from HR and legal departments.
How did COVID-19 impact digital transformation of your company?
The crises speeded up our digital transformation process. It also pushed us to develop new, innovative solutions. An example is the Check-in desk application, required by our HR team. Through this application we are providing to the colleagues that want/need to work from the office, the company’s guarantee for a safe workplace. In parallel, allows organisation to have a real time overview of the team members’ presence in the office.
Check-in desk app means for employees 3 simple steps in just 10 seconds:
- Choose the desired office though an interactive map;
- Choose a desk that respects mandatory space distance through an interactive floor plan;
- Request manager approval.
What helped you the most during this period? And why?
From professional perspective, my IT background and experience in leading complex software projects helped me on understanding the great window of opportunity that we have – to accelerate digital transformation, to screen the market for innovative solution, to build a powerful portfolio of technologies that can help our clients during this difficult time. IT applications were among the most viable responses to commute the face to face interaction to the online environment. So, I didn’t had time to complain about the sanitary situation at all. The opposite I would say, it was not enough time to respond to all our customer requests to provide solutions that will help them to keep the same level of interaction with their end customers, and the same level of productivity with their employees. Same requests were addressing their internal processes, needed to readapt in a digital way to have all the systems in place for the employees that overnight were moved to work from home.
What was the hardest thing to do? And why?
Being a full-time employee and, at the same time, being an almost full-time teacher for my kids. It required pure project management techniques to be implemented to cover both mandatory needs. So, for example, we functioned based on a defined schedule established on each Sunday for the next week. In this table were mapped entire family conferences calls, allocated hours for kids’ homework and playing time, and even lunch hour.
Do you think COVID-19 is a turning point in digital transformation?
Yes, for sure. We are already living the new reality. The turning point was the moment when the physical interaction between companies’ representatives and their clients was no longer possible. So, with the branches closed, the companies were forced to rethink quickly their way of contact and communicate with their customers. So, what we faced, as IT solutions providers, was the request to help these big companies to respond immediately to this need and to move, to adapt as much possible of the old legacy face to face processes to online environment.
How did the employees/your colleagues adapt and embrace digital transformation during the lockdown?
Sooner or later everyone understood and started to comply with the new way of work. This period meant an enormous pressure and amount of work for the HR, IT and Legal departments. Without their 200% implication in providing the necessary tools, materials, guidance, and effort to readapt over night the daily processes, this transition could have been even more complicated.
Do you have a story or an image regarding this forced digitalization that you will remember or tell when someone will ask you about this period?
I think the most comprehensive image about adapting to new situations, is with my girl, 6 years old. In a truly short time, she became such responsible in order not to miss any of her online courses to which she was connecting all by herself, understanding the features, passwords, or menus of Zoom at her age. At the same time she was drawing frequently to her teacher, telling her how much she is missing her and that she wants to hug her very, very strong.
What is the next step in your company digital transformation?
One of the very concrete steps that KPMG is doing is building this Digital Solutions team that I am managing. We are bringing under the same umbrella experienced people with selling skills on one side, and technical skills for developing and implementing solutions that will help our clients through their digital journey. We are putting the basis of a mixed team with people from and outside KPMG with proven track record in the IT industry. We also started to screen the market to consolidate our solution portfolio with cutting edge technologies provided by third parties.