Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this story said incorrectly that NeoSystems has 50 employees; it has 109.

NeoSystems founder finds persistence pays off

By Sharon McLoone
Monday, June 21, 2010

NeoSystems is a Vienna firm that helps small and medium-size businesses meet the government's rigid accounting and contract management standards. That might not sound too sexy, but for small shops looking for work from the potentially lucrative public sector, knowing how to navigate the Byzantine world of contracts is enormous.

Michael Tinsley knows better than most. He started his career as an accountant at what is now known as PricewaterhouseCoopers and worked at a variety of firms, including government contractors. He noticed throughout his career that "the first thing I'd have to do is implement a new accounting system, and each company was spending money to do it and needed to invest more."

Many government agencies use accounting software made by Deltek, a 1,100-employee company based in Herndon that serves more than 12,000 customers, including 89 percent of the top federal contractors.

However, Deltek software can be prohibitively expensive for a very small firm as it might cost tens of thousands of dollars to license the software, according to Tinsley, who added that even a good accountant still might not know how to navigate it.

So he approached Deltek, asking the firm to sell him software licenses that he would customize for smaller firms. His idea was that NeoSystems then would place its accountant employees at those firms to manage and use the software.

Deltek said no at first, but Tinsley listened to the company's concerns, refigured his proposal and went back again and again, pitching his proposal.

Eventually an agreement was reached in 2003, and NeoSystems started to grow quickly. That growth has accelerated as the 109-employee firm has hired 35 employees since early 2009.

"Persistence is finally what got them to listen," he said. "They needed to realize that it would benefit them in the long run if smaller firms were able to gain access to their accounting software; it would bring them more customers."

Today, NeoSystems licenses Deltek software in NeoSystems' name and sets up and customizes software for clients.

AdRem Systems is a NeoSystems client, and the firm's president, Patrick Birt, said now that his 21-employee company can use Deltek, "our accounting practices are as good as big boys out there and we're on a better competitive footing."

Birt's Reston firm provides information technology services mainly to the U.S. intelligence community. He signed on with NeoSystems after a customer requested that an audit be done on its contractors. "It was hard to have all the information at my fingertips but now -- and it may sound funny -- because of our accounting practices, we're being invited to participate in other ventures."

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