Editor’s note: Charlotte Beat is a regular feature on Wednesdays.Although the economic recovery is just starting for many tech companies, Optinfo had “no shortage of business in the last fifteen months,” says Steven Manz, chief executive officer.

Optinfo’s software helps clients such as Bank One, Morgan Stanley and Wachovia reconcile databases between partners, branches, and systems, eliminating the operational risk of “exceptions” – data not in agreement. It does this in half the time of traditional methods, says Manz.

New government regulations such as the Sarbanes Oxley Act, and the spectacle of top company executives being marched off to jail in handcuffs has placed a new emphasis on getting the numbers right, Manz points out.

“CFOs, CEOs can go to jail now if the numbers are wrong. The heat is on and they need answers and need them right now. If they approach it in the traditional ways, they’re not going to get there,” Manz says.

Manz says that one of the biggest problems companies have between now and the time they have to demonstrate compliance with Sarbanes Oxley is proving that their controls work at the transaction level. “That’s something Optinfo is perfectly suited for,” he says.

Founded and self-funded in 1989 by Doug Dawson and Glenn Miller, Optinfo developed its software engine nBalance, in 1997. Dawson is president and Miller is chief information officer of the company. Manz joined as CEO about nine months ago.

“I checked them out before I decided it was a place I wanted to hang my hat,” says Manz. “Software vendors make a lot of claims. I called two of the largest financial institutions in the country and asked if Optinfo’s claims are true and they said yes.”

Eye of the beholder

Manz explains that the operational risk in the detailed records of financial institutions and other companies is when databases differ. “Various parties to a transaction view it from their own perspective, buyer, seller, governing agencies,” he says.

The Optinfo software helps reconcile exceptions among those parties and different databases and sells for from $50,000 to “a couple of million dollars.”

He says the company’s competitors are just now coming out with products that can do similar things to Optinfo’s. Its main advantage right now, Manz says, is that it integrates data from any electronic source without the need to write time-consuming and expensive custom code. “If it exists electronically, we can get it without doing custom code, and that’s part of the secret of how we do it in half the time.”

While Optinfo’s competitors may be closing in on that advantage, Manz says the company isn’t sitting still waiting for them to catch up.

Going to the web

“In 90 days, we plan to announce something that will keep our leadership from the technical perspective,” Manz says. “A major goal of the securities industries is straight through processing.”

A lot of people have to see the details of these transactions, he explains. “Trading partners, brokers, custodians, people inside and outside the financial institutions have to touch them. Part of the problem is how to do that without installing a lot of software on desktops.”

The new Optinfo approach solves the problem with a Web-based case manager. “We’re up an running with it at a top ten financial institution right now,” Manz says. The new product also includes a “risk and control dashboard” a client can configure.

“It gives all levels of management visibility into their world, all the metrics of their operation they need to see on a heartbeat by heartbeat basis and it’s all Web-based. The customer doesn’t have to install stuff on hundreds of desktops and maintain it.”

Manz says the 20-employee company, which has operated out of offices at the Ben Craig business incubator since its inception, has no immediate plans to move or hire new people. “With this tech platform, we have everything we need to meet our goals for the foreseeable future,” he says.

Manz says Optinfo doubled its revenue and profitability last year and is able to fund its own operations. “We may a some point in the future seek investment if and when we think growth can’t be sustained otherwise. We want to grow faster than the market’s 20 percent and we’re doing that now.”

The company currently has between 35 and 40 customers with “a couple of new ones coming on board this month. We get lots and lots of repeat business. One of the reasons they like us so much is that our stuff doesn’t break,” Manz says.

The company backs up statements like that with a large number of glowing testimonials from senior executives at Central Carolina Bank, Merril Lynch, Bankers’ Trust, Capital Trust Corp. and others. Most cite specific savings of time, money, and Optinfo’s effective customer support.

Manz says Optinfo plans to maintain its financial services focus, but may also expand through alliances to the healthcare, energy, and telecommunications industries.

One Network Webcast

One Network Enterprise, formerly Elogix, begins a series of free “How It Works” webcasts today.

The company says its interactive webcast series connects next generation supply chain concepts with the reality of making them work in your business environment.

The first webcast of the series will introduce a new category of web-based technology for managing fulfillment operations across retailers, distributors, manufacturers and logistics services providers. Follow-up webcasts that highlight specific examples of how on-demand fulfillment services change the game in supply chain technology.

One Network: onenetwork.com/webcasts/index.html

Optinfo: www.optinfo.com