While many other tech companies are dealing with layoffs, staffing challenges are top of mind for Daniel de Haas, CFO of iBASEt.
His company makes software that helps manufacturers manage their production operations from procurement to maintenance, with a heavy emphasis on the defense industry. Payroll is by far the company’s biggest expense, he said, and it’s getting increasingly difficult to find qualified people at a time when heightened global tensions have led to an uptick in business.
Not something he could have imagined two years ago.
“When COVID hit, we were looking at what we should do with our people, but it was actually an accelerator of growth, and we needed a lot more people.” He said the company has increased staffing by 50% in the last year alone. To meet the demand, the company has found them in nontraditional locations, including overseas.
Insight Beyond the ERP
Given the unpredictability of the current environment, CFOs need insight that extends well beyond what their enterprise resource planning [ERP] suites can deliver, according to de Haas. He observed that the highest level of uncertainty in decades has pushed CFOs to look beyond dashboard readouts for insights into how the macro environment will affect the bottom and top lines.
“There are risks out there like supply chain disruption,” he said. “As CFOs, we now have a broader role where we must help our colleagues understand the ins and outs and the bigger picture of what happens across the company.”
The Urgency of Automating AP/AR
He noted that the urgency and practicality of automating accounts payable and accounts receivable are a function of volume. Because iBASEt, a privately held company that has been in business for over 30 years, has a relatively small number of vendors, the accounts payable function remains manual and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
That’s a far cry from his previous engagement with SeneGence, which used eCommerce to sell cosmetics. According to de Haas, “As to my prior job, we doubled our revenue every month and so we went from $100 million to $1 billion revenue. The company paid commissions to 10,000 vendors, yet we had the same environment where when I joined everything was manual. I automated payments because basically we couldn’t grow and keep doing more.”
iBASEt, by contrast, issues large annual invoices for master services agreements, and invoices monthly for services.
That too is a manual process at this point, but de Hass is looking into automating it through Salesforce.com.
Because of the sensitive nature of its clientele, keeping customer IP and the data within its systems secure is the highest of priorities. As CFO, de Haas works closely with cross-functional teams within the company to ensure vulnerabilities are minimized across the entire enterprise.
When asked about his biggest concerns, de Haas said, “In the last two years alone, we’ve seen a pandemic, we have inflation, we have a war out there, we have climate change — rivers drying up, resulting in supply chain issues that are caused from people being unable to move the parts our clients need for their manufacturing operations. It’s been a very unpredictable environment.”
On the supply chain issue, the systems iBASEt provides to its customers help them with sourcing. “What our clients are seeing now is that parts are not available. We help them to respond to that, to figure out how to source it somewhere else, how to get insights into supplier processes. That’s their struggle, and so they are investing in tools to help them figure out that area to help them manage their supply chain.”
As to connecting product data with information, iBASEt is an information provider. “Our customers all use portals and they use automated payments. So we collect those from them that way and we interact with their portals.”
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