BY SHEILA WATSON
Creating apps and plug-ins to make the world’s most popular software for nonprofits even better and more valuable is not what Jeff Montgomery, managing partner of Omatic Software, envisioned as his future. But it’s what he’s doing – and doing extremely well, with a workforce of roughly 40 people in a building he purchased and renovated a few years ago.
Montgomery worked at software giant Blackbaud until 2002, when he left with a business plan that had nothing to do with Blackbaud, but instead was focused on technology for employee scheduling and productivity.
While he got that work off the ground, his relationship with Blackbaud continued on a contract basis, with him working on various products. In the process he developed a suite of customizable integration tools that work with Blackbaud’s comprehensive fundraising management software – Raiser’s Edge and Financial Edge. And that’s where his current company took off.
“Our tools essentially lay on top of Blackbaud’s products and provide a whole new user experience,” Montgomery said.
The interface is a “canvas” or “workspace” that shows information in a visually pleasing format, which pulls data from the Blackbaud database underneath it.
The company’s growth has been impressive – an average growth in sales of 170 percent year over year the past few years – and today the company boasts an entire online store of apps designed to save nonprofits’ time, money and effort, and help them to do their mission more effectively.
Which means a greater need for good people on his staff.
“We’re doing a lot of work, and sometimes the need to hire can sneak up on you,” Montgomery said. “I prefer to hire slowly as compared with other companies, but that’s because I don’t want to over-hire. I wouldn’t want to hire people based on what might happen only to have to lay them off later. We hire people we want to keep.”
Montgomery’s thoughtful, meticulous planning is a process that would make Dave Ramsey proud.
“Except for the building, which we paid half for, we are 100 percent self-funded,” he said. “We’ve never had to borrow money or get investor funding for our company. We have an organic growth, and that puts us in a great position.”
That growth gained the company a listing on Inc. Magazine’s 500 fasting growing private companies in America two years in a row and was the only nonprofit-focused company on the list.
“It was quite an honor to be on that list,” he said. “For one thing, it showed that what we’re doing was having a real impact and people were noticing.”
As it should be for a successful software company, roughly a fourth of his current workforce is in product development, with another fourth in support and professional services.
Although his role of managing partner consumes a large part of his day, he occasionally sits in on new implementation calls, which helps his employees absorb his passion for the work.
Montgomery insisted his passion comes from the client base itself – a group of companies whose focus is doing good in the world. And that produces a “giving” attitude in him and his staff.
In fact, his focus on nonprofits and companies with a mission brought him into contact with South Carolina Strong, an organization devoted to rehabilitating criminals and substance abusers and moving them into economic self-sufficiency. He contracted with them to custom-build the cubicles in the office.
“I took all of what I really wanted back when I worked in an office and put it into this place,” he said. The result is a workplace that has the best lighting and space and amenities for maximum productivity.
He also donated a software package that helped to automate donation data processing to an organization that provides health care in Haiti. He implemented and trained users on the software and wrote new software to further automate the process. The results were astounding: within a few days, the organization went from processing 100 gifts a day to processing 500 gifts in 1½ hours. Based on that success, Montgomery has offered the same service to any organization providing assistance in Haiti and has since implemented it for several others at no cost.
And yet, such success didn’t feed his ego. Rather, it reinforced the humility that makes him what his employees call “a manager with soul.”
“How cool it is,” he said with a broad smile, “that organizations like Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation and Special Olympics are using our product?”