Mazars is a leader in the provision of audit, accounting, tax and advisory services with a global presence. The firm has clients across multiple industries with unique needs and requirements, so Mazars’ team is dedicated to the delivery of highly customised, integrated solutions to support all clients.
With digital transformation as a key focus, Mazars has implemented Dext Prepare to help clients easily and accurately upload receipts and expense information to their accounting system. Here, the top Mazars leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia discuss their primary challenges and highlight how Dext Prepare has supported Mazars in scaling up and transforming their business to succeed in today’s fast-moving markets.
About the Firm
Founded in France in 1945, Mazars is one of the world’s largest independent audit, advisory, tax and consulting organisations, servicing clients across a variety of industries and at every stage of their development. The firm is an integrated partnership committed to helping its clients and their businesses achieve their ambitions.
Over the years, Mazars has developed a comprehensive approach to the needs of the organisations it supports. It’s expanded globally to over 95 countries worldwide with over 47,000+ professionals across all regions.
In 2016, Mazars in the UK started putting technology at the forefront of its strategy to help clients thrive in a world where tech-enabled disruption is accelerating. Dext Prepare, known as Receipt Bank at the time, provided a solution, helping the team increase their level of automation with effortless invoice fetching and intuitive data capture.
Meanwhile, the Mazars teams in North America and in Australia were investigating their own options to automate data entry and streamline processes. They too identified Dext Prepare as the best option in their offices, and the rollout started. When Mazars decided to standardise their technology globally, Dext was the ideal partner, able to service the regional offices and provide the consistency the international team wanted.
Digital transformation is driving change in every industry and every market. At Mazars, since each region was encountering similar challenges, they’ve made a big effort into finding a consistent solution that could support its global network whilst still considering the particularities of each office.
Determining which standard technology to implement to best meet the needs of clients while still integrating with other systems and making the transition easy for staff was a top priority. It was important that the team understood the benefits of the new software and tools, and received training on how to effectively use them. Equipped with this training, staff could then offer clients solutions best suited to their needs, resulting in efficient business decisions as a common goal.
For the UK, a key focus was scaling the solution to meet the needs of a firm that doubled in size within a decade. Delays in manual entry, the risk of human error and the consumption of mass amounts of valuable time put pressure on finding a better way to input quality information and produce reports quicker.
“Prior to implementing Dext Prepare, we experienced challenges such as large amounts of data entry and coding, building individual reports and much more. We have 19 offices in the UK, and would often have delays in receiving invoices from clients in certain locations.” – Lara Brennan, Head of SME at Mazars in the UK
Finding one software that works best for the majority of clients was a priority in the United States. It had to fit the needs of a diverse client base and also be easily embraced by the firm’s employees.
“The biggest hurdle is having the people behind you backing and understanding the need for a change”, says Jason Pourakis, Entrepreneurial Business Services Leader at Mazars USA.
“Standardisation was a huge challenge, such as trying to determine which software will work better with the technology we want to have in place”, says Athina Koutsoumadi, Senior Manager in New York.
“It is critical to use software that integrates seamlessly with other platforms and is also user-friendly. We spent a lot of time evaluating different types of software and finding the right partnership. It was important to identify areas in which Dext Prepare could solve challenges we faced with our clients, speed of execution and efficiency without compromising the quality of work”.
Similarly, Mazars in Australia began to build a case where Prepare could be used to manage expense data in real-time. This was something other solutions were unable to accomplish in one centralised platform.
“We tried other solutions, but we found that either it had functionalities that weren’t relevant for other clients, so it wasn’t good for a wide rollout, or it was missing a specific functionality that we needed”, says Shaunie Huzzey, Associate Director based in Sydney.
She explains that other platforms didn’t offer, for example, the ability to extract GST values from a receipt or an invoice. With Dext Prepare, this is now an easy feature to enable.
“Dext Prepare was one of the few platforms at the time that would let us extract GST value from a receipt or invoice, which was perfect and saved a lot of double-checking for us. We could trust the data being entered in the accounts.” – Shaunie Huzzey, Associate Director at Mazars in Australia
After long research and trial, each Mazars team decided to introduce Dext Prepare as one of their standard solutions worldwide, allowing for a much smoother implementation on an international scale. Since then, the company has transformed the way it inputs data.
While onboarding current clients and their employees presented a few expected challenges for a global company – such as logistically aligning timezones -, the initial rollout of Dext Prepare was made easier with the constant communication from the Dext team. The benefits started being noticed straight away.
“Prior to Prepare, clients had invoices emailed to us. If it was a physical receipt, this wasn’t very convenient,” shares Shaunie Huzzey in Australia. “Dext Prepare saved them time and made this process more efficient. The mobile app can take a photo of a receipt at the time of payment and automatically have it recorded.”
With the support of Dext, Mazars provided training to the team and made them aware of all functionality to get the best out of the system.
“Once we had standard processes and documents in place, Prepare was easy to roll out”, says Shaunie, “For new clients, we present this as the process on which our fees are based on.”
If potential clients require something outside of Mazars’ standard platforms, the team will find a bespoke solution to ensure it meets their needs. Certain tools such as Prepare, however, make this process simpler.
“While there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all solution, Dext Prepare fits for the vast majority and that’s why we’re happy to recommend it for those it does”. – Matthew Ashley, Managing Partner at Mazars in Australia
In the UK, the team needed a way to promote a front-end digital solution to clients that wasn’t costly and worked from a compliance standpoint. This is where Dext Prepare and also Dext Precision came in to find efficiencies and enhance Mazars’ digital offerings.
According to Rachael Stewart, Senior Client Advisory Manager & Global SME PMO at Mazars UK, there has been no pushback from clients, even if they feel a bit insecure at first.
“Some clients did have hesitation, particularly around data and trusting technology with their data. By demonstrating the functionality, we can explain the product in a way that will work for them. With all hesitation or challenges, we have always found a way around it for our clients.”
Mazars has since been able to use Prepare to easily find efficiencies and enhance its digital offerings.
“By delivering one big solution for our clients, we know we can keep our fees at a reasonable level when we use it because data input is so much quicker than doing it manually.”
“We’ve been able to grow alongside Dext for every challenge we’ve had.” – Rachael Stewart, Mazars UK Senior Client Advisory Manager & Global SME PMO
The relationship between accountants and clients is an important aspect that drastically improves with technology and automation. With more time to dedicate to what matters, business can better focus on strategy and growth.
In the USA, where the team has been working on introducing new tools to upgrade internal processes and the services they provide, the implementation of Dext Prepare has also improved the communication with clients.
“Overwhelmingly, the user experience is enhanced. I’ve only heard good things about how our clients are using Dext Prepare, which is great. It makes it so much easier and I’m not cluttering my inbox with emails.” – Jason Pourakis, Entrepreneurial Business Services Leader at Mazars North America
It was also important to ensure that the team was knowledgeable about the software. They set up weekly meetings with Dext’s account managers in the beginning, recording the sessions for everyone to access at a later time. This way they were able to have effective conversations with clients, introducing them to the software and talking about the benefits of either using it or switching from their existing platform.
Each of Mazars’ international offices has its favourite features in Dext Prepare, depending on clients’ needs. But overall, the main benefits that make Prepare stand out from the competition for Mazars include:
• Extraction of credit card numbers from a receipt, which automatically applies the receipt paid to the appropriate account in Xero;
• Duplicate protection that prevents the same receipt from being paid twice;
• Payment match to reconcile invoices with bank statements;
• In-app messaging between users for greater collaboration and efficiency;
• Extraction of data from PDFs and image files.
With the support of Dext, Mazars has been able to increase its productivity while offering a better experience to its clients, regardless of the many regions in which it operates. Internationally, the firm has been able to adapt to the needs of its clients as well as local regulations and policies. Dext Prepare has helped Mazars standardise its processes and data, keeping them consistent throughout the company.
Globally, its strategy has evolved to include more digital tools and automation to support clients, increase efficiency and future-proof the company.
“It’s become embedded in the way we work. While change management was challenging, we’re through a lot of that now. It’s shifted”, explains Rachael Stewart.
More recently, she adds, Mazars in the UK has been exploring Dext Commerce to handle the VAT complexities of its clients and better support the needs of digital commerce businesses – benefitting from the full Dext suite on their day-to-day processes.
Meanwhile, at Mazars USA, the real proof of the success of Dext Prepare is in the numbers.
“What previously took my staff member seven hours now takes one hour with Dext Prepare. The time saved allows the team to focus more on understanding the client and increase client service instead of getting lost in the details.” – Athina Koutsoumadi, Senior Manager at Mazars North America
“It doesn’t oversimplify the process, but if you compare a before and after picture, it’s like day and night”, comments Jason Pourakis, who has seen his North American team save multiple hours per client that can now be spent on other important tasks.
The international team at Mazars understands the importance of keeping up to date with technology. This is embedded in the firm’s global strategy and taken onboard by each individual office, allowing the firm to stay up-to-date and benefit from the opportunities that cloud accounting tools and automation offer.
“Digital transformation is my number one goal. There’s going to be a lot of work alongside it, but that’s the headline”, says Jason.
Likewise in Australia, the benefits of automation have changed the way the office operates. Since the implementation of Dext Prepare, the team has seen the time spent on preparing accounts dramatically reduce, freeing up more resources for value-added services.
“Dext Prepare has helped our office grow the service line by up to 100% year-on-year.” – Matthew Ashley, Managing Partner at Mazars in Australia
“Without these efficiencies, we wouldn’t have been able to scale that quickly. It was a combination of streamlined processes and systems, but Dext has been a key factor in getting our economies of scale”, says Matthew Ashley.
Their international offices are now able to provide clients with more Chief Financial Officer advisory services because they can rely on the Prepare platform to ensure the day-to-day bookkeeping is looked after. With accurate and up-to-date information, the Mazars team can provide timely advice on accounts rather than needing to look at historical data.
“We need to continuously evolve and update our processes like every other organisation, and that’s critical to our growth and our success, whether that be the products we use on our clients or internally. Mazars continually strives for a culture of innovation as one of our selling points”, explains Matthew.
“It’s still a tough market, so if you don’t, you won’t have access to what you need. Any organisation that isn’t looking to automate and create more efficient processes is going to struggle.”
In the near future, Mazars will continue to innovate and expand its use of digital technologies to help its clients in all areas of business. As the firm expands, technology will continue to play a significant role in helping the organisation to deliver its mission.
“In the last months, we’ve really taken a big leap forward”, reflects Jason Pourakis, on the USA office’s strategy moving forward.
The solution for scalability isn’t about just adding more people, it’s about embracing automation and utilising the right technology for the right client.” – Jason Pourakis, Entrepreneurial Business Services Leader at Mazars North America
Now the team aims to continue fine-tuning their standardised process and discussing with current clients the benefits of using Dext Prepare – possibly switching them from other platforms they may be using. When onboarding clients that are start-ups, Prepare is already the software of choice.
In the UK, Mazars is looking to further leverage technology to drive efficiencies and build lasting partnerships through its digital-first approach.
“We want to be seen as a firm that is always evolving, providing best-in-class solutions in an environment where staff enjoy their work in providing info in a timely and reliable manner”, says Rachael.
“Dext products and any other tech we use help us be at the forefront of our future. It’s all about partnerships and mutually beneficial growth.” – Rachael Stewart, Mazars UK Senior Client Advisory Manager & Global SME PMO
Mazars plans to continue to invest in adding value to its offerings and in creating efficiencies for its employees, which is reflected in the excellent service it provides its clients worldwide.
While Dext Prepare assists with compliance, as Mazars evolves, it will also use Dext Commerce and Dext Precision to help its clients make more informed decisions and grow their businesses. Just as Dext Prepare, all solutions can also be integrated with an organisation’s accounting system of choice to further enhance efficiency, accuracy and the user experience.
Watch other video highlights from our chat with Mazars global leaders directly here.
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