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Meet Dmitry Portnov – This Crisis Made Us Stronger As a Team, As a Company

Today we have selected Dmitry Portnov to take his interview. He is the CEO and Co-Founder of FiduciaSoft.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

We’ve been chugging along. It’s been tough at first, with all of the changes that project teams had to do to switch to remote work and all. Although working from home on occasion was something that we often did, it is one thing to do remote work once a week; it is quite another to do it consistently for well over a year now.

Teams had to adjust to a different pace of work, taking regular meetings via RingCentral, Skype, and Zoom and doing small breakout communications over slack. Although these tools were part of the workflow before the pandemic, they became invaluable during the lockdown. And after finding the new rhythm, it’s been more or less smooth sailing ever since. 

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I’ve known my business partner for a long time – we’ve been working together since 2004 in a subdivision of a company based in Ohio. We moved on into different directions in 2008, but in 2014 we crossed paths again. One thing led to another, and we’ve decided to combine our efforts and start a new venture – FiduciaSoft.

We called our shiny new company FiduciaSoft because we wanted to express in our name that we can be a trusted software partner for our clients. And our business, slow at first, started picking up, steadily doubling in size year over a year until the pandemic hit last year.

How does your company innovate?

Well, as any business in our shoes, we, of course, have to stay current with all of the development technologies, methodologies, and platforms. But that is the part of the course; I would not even consider this something special. Our customers expect us to be on the top of the industry trends, be it in the project delivery methodology or the newest development tool.

Since the beginning, we’ve also been cloud-first, heavily relying on Google, Amazon, and Microsoft cloud services in our daily operations. This, as well as the fact that you constantly have to recertify on all of the ERP’s that we support, keeps us on the frontline of the technological side. I’d say that innovation is in our DNA., and it spreads from our R&D to the rest of the departments, reaching even as far as Sales and Marketing. I’d say that in this business, you either innovate, or you’re forced into obscurity and close the shop shortly. 

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

We had a few clients who finished their contracts and did not renew due to internal cutbacks. Some industries were hit hard, and many end-users had to hit pause on their development timelines. We had a client that took an additional year to obtain financing for the project. In that case, the contract estimated to start in March of 2020 did not begin until April 2021.

Nevertheless, the workload came back with a vengeance now, and we’re hiring again. I’m not sure if this year will be considered a growth year compared to 2019, but it will be a huge improvement compared to 2020. 

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Yes, we had to make a few cuts. We had to reluctantly let go of a few contractors and employees because we did not have projects for them, and our “bench” was getting too big. I have to say, though, that now that we’re growing again, we had to rehire a few people back. And a bit of bragging here: the fact that people came back to work for us, sometimes leaving their new places of work, speaks highly for the atmosphere within the company and the culture of taking care of the employees and making sure their work lives are as smooth and stress-free as possible.

As far as lessons learned, I’d say that the main takeaway from this whole pandemic is that businesses must have sufficient financial “coffers” to survive unexpected twists and turns. I’ve always believed that, but this experience validated my beliefs. Those companies that rely on short-term loans to do the payroll have a much tougher time to serve downturn than a business that always keeps, say, 3mont3months’h of payroll in the bank “just in case.” 

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

We rely much more on Zoom, RingCentral, Skype, and Slack. These are not specifically new tools for our workflow, but the way we utilize them is new. I’d say- how much we rely on them is new. Overall, though, the way we were set up before the crisis helped us deal with this pandemic with a minimum amount of pain. Moving our staff to a remote work was more or less painless, especially when we stopped and thought how bad it could have been.  

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

I do not worry much about my competition. My partner and I have a mindset that we have to do the best job for our clients, vendors, employees, and contractors; everything else will fall into place. Of course, we keep track of industry as a whole- after all, we hire people from the same pool and develop using the same methodologies and tools. But tracking our competition is not something that we do or worry about. So, to “stay in the game,” I’d say that you have to love what you do, have to do it well day in and day out, and at the end, you’ll persevere. 

Your final thoughts:

I think that going through this crisis made us stronger as a team, as a company. I’m always trying to find positives in everything, and I have the mindset that you have to go through a tough exercise to come out stronger on the other side. This applies equally well to the strength of your mussels, the strength of your character, and the strength of your business.

I hope that this pandemic is going to be over soon. I say that not as a business owner, but as a sick person and tired of dealing with masks. As a FiduciaSoft owner, I’d say that we, as a company and even as an industry, probably will never be the same. Remote work will be much more prevalent, even more than it was before the pandemic. And it’s a good thing. 

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