BESIX partners with PwC to harmonise its processes to bring greater value to clients
From its beginnings as an esteemed contractor, the BESIX Group has grown over the years into a multidisciplinary company that leads in its markets: construction, property development and concessions. Founded in Belgium in 1909, the Group is now the biggest player in the country and has also built up strong positions internationally, especially in the Middle East over the last 50 years and now, with its acquisition of Watpac in 2018, in Australia too.
The firm seeks to create value for its customers by creating synergies between the Group’s entities. To help it bring its decentralised procurement processes together in a more uniform and harmonious way, it looked to PwC for help.
Explains the Group’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jan Gesquière, "Synergies are very important for BESIX, it’s one of our strategic drivers. We look for synergies to help us optimise our operations. At BESIX, most people work on individual projects, we wanted to show people on projects how more centre-led procurement can add value to their work while respecting our DNA."
Pierre Sironval, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the BESIX Group, notes further, "When looking at preparing BESIX for the future, we were convinced that there was a real opportunity to change the way we were doing procurement, something we do mainly in our construction business."
As to why BESIX opted to work with PwC, Pierre Sironval, says, "We approached various entities that we thought could help us implement new ways of working. PwC not only had convincing experience, but has also done similar projects in the same field and in the geographical regions in which we’re located, particularly in the Middle East."
He adds, "this project represents a huge transformation for our group. People are used to working in silos, so it’s also about change management. With experience on similar assignments, PwC demonstrated not just the ability to introduce new ways of working, but persuade those involved of the benefits they would bring."
"The key asset is the people. It’s all about how they communicate and co-create together."
Alongside our expertise and experience with similar assignments, BESIX was confident that PwC has similar values to its own and approaches challenges in a similar way. Enthuses Jan Gesquière, "We feel that the DNA of PwC is quite the same as ours. When you bring people together who have the same approach, same mentality, same no-nonsense way of working, it gives a very good feeling. BESIX is a very entrepreneurial company. PwC understands us very well, is very hands on and puts the right people on the project."
Pierre Sironval is similarly enthusiastic about the relationship, "Far from looking to minimise their efforts, the PwC team’s doing their utmost to make this happen. We know there are some hurdles, but they’re helping us overcome them."
Bringing outside people into any organisation isn’t always easy, especially when those people are involved with internal team members on a daily basis and introducing the new ways of working they must adopt.
"The PwC team interfaces with a lot of people in the organisation and I think they do it in a very humble, very open and very honest way - that helps enormously. They also show a very proactive, entrepreneurial approach," enthuses Pierre Sironval.
"PwC understands us very well, is very hands on and puts the right people on the project."
Alongside the transformation of its procurement processes, BESIX also entrusts PwC with expat concerns within its human resources (HR) function, as well as with challenges related to transfer pricing.
The achievements made in both assignments also help PwC stand out as a professional services provider for BESIX, especially in terms of our "professional mentality. PwC works hard to understand what the customer is thinking and that's very important in such a relationship. I think that’s something they do in a very correct way," says Jan Gesquière.
Having been working in silos, BESIX felt that bringing its financial flows together, it’d be better placed to negotiate with suppliers. "That’s one of the main goals we wanted to put in place with PwC. We’ve been learning from PwC how to do that," explains Jan Gesquière. He adds, "We’ve not had the attitude to do that before as we were more organised by project. This is one of the very positive elements PwC brings to the project."
From the outset, BESIX set out how the project should progress, separating it into waves. Wave one was about showing how a new procurement organisation could add value and has been successfully concluded. The teams are now working together on wave two.
"Everything’s running well and we’re convinced that we’ll get there. I think that it’s going to be a great success for both organisations and it’ll be of huge value to the BESIX Group as it’ll make us much leaner and a much more attractive organisation towards our clients. And that’s the most important: our customers," concludes Pierre Sironval.
With a mission to excel in creating sustainable solutions for a better world, a future-ready procurement organisation will help the BESIX Group add the value it looks for in this key area.
Director, PwC Belgium
Tel: +32 02 710 4271