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Meet the Team - Thomas Hondema & Berend Lantink

07/13/2021 New In depth

As MultiSafepay has always been on the frontline of innovation, looking to improve its products and services consistently through innovation, we decided it was time to have a chat with some of the key contributors in pushing that development and maintaining the quality level. We sat down with Berend Lantink and Thomas Hondema, our Head of Integrations and Product Owner Integrations. Listen to their opinion on the Fintech market and find out what makes the MultiSafepay integrations tick.

 

Q: First off, a little bit about yourselves. What led you guys to your current position, and what has driven you?

Berend: I’ve now been active in ecommerce for about 12 years. My career path all started at Freshcotton, where I did my thesis. After completing that I started building webshops for Shoptrader which naturally led me to my next function at TIG.nl. This is where I was introduced to the game of developing integrations and everything that’s involved in creating a good ecommerce product as a whole. My next step was MultiSafepay, where I’ve been actively involved in all facets of the integrations.

Thomas: As a child I was always very excited about technology. I used to build robots when I was younger and, to be honest, it still feels like I’m doing that today with our integrations. You can’t really see them as an out-of-the-box solution, which means we’re always trying to create an innovative solution for some kind of challenge. During my working hours I focus on plotting the course for our development team. However, in my free time I still like to tinker around with the code of our integrations; the main goal here is innovation, yet it often leads to headaches for our lead developer Jasper Nadi.

 

Q: As the Product Owner and Head of Integrations, you guys are responsible for a lot of things. How would you characterize your roles at MultiSafepay?

Berend: My main responsibilities lie with the Integration Team. This team consists of the Integration Developers, Integration Specialists and the MultiSafepay Docs team. As a manager you’re involved in just about every aspect of the team here, which means that it’s quite a busy day-to-day job. However, if you ask me what I’d like the most about it: working alongside the Integration Specialists helping our customers out with issues in their integrations. Luckily, I still get to do this on a regular basis. Following on that, I think this is one of MultiSafepay’s key USPs, when you have an issue or a question about one of our products, you get to talk to someone with years of experience in their area of expertise, which means we’ll help you solve complicated problems swiftly - having the knowledge in house is key.

Thomas: As the Product Owner Integrations, many people expect me to be directing my developers as to how they should build their integrations. When I just stepped into this role this turned out to be a topic of discussion. My vision, however, was different. I will tell my developers what the market and the organisation is expecting of the integrations, but the Developers are the experts here. They will tell me what’s needed, what’s achievable and where they think the opportunities lie. This freedom and responsibility was not necessarily welcomed with open arms by everyone, but after the first 6 months the results spoke for themselves.

 

Q: You’ve been with MultiSafepay for several years now, and you’ve both grown into your roles as Head of and Product Owner Integrations. How have you seen MultiSafepay change in those years? Any impactful lessons you have learned during your tenure at MultiSafepay?

Berend: It might be a cliché answer, but in my opinion a diverse team is a good team. With MultiSafepay this has formed itself in a quite natural way over the years. Five years ago I probably wouldn’t have given you this answer, as I like to work with people who are exactly like me, but to achieve the best results it’s crucial to mix and match personalities and skill sets.

Thomas: I’d just like to add to that, one of our newest team members, Stanislau, is a great example of this. He’s built up a lot of experience at some major Magento houses such as Aitoc and Amasty, and immediately after arrival in the Netherlands he started adding incredible value to our team and integration. Professionals with skills and experience such as Stanislau are hard to find if you focus on recruitment in Amsterdam only, for example. Also, we’ve really nailed the building of integrations and traditional ecommerce in general. So I think the challenge we’ll be facing in the coming years is aiming to involve ourselves more actively in common innovations, looking to expand our knowledge in the wider scope of ecommerce even more.

 

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your team right now, and is there anything you’re looking to add to that team? What do you think separates the MultiSafepay team from some of its competitors?

Berend: It’s no secret that there’s a bit of a shortage of developers at the moment. As a Payment Service Provider that does all their own code, and develops everything in-house we feel the consequences of this shortage more than others. That doesn’t mean that’s not the right choice though, because it gives us knowledge that others don't have. Ask us any question relating to Magento, and we’ll be able to answer it. Over the past month I’ve had 2 requests from partners to use our knowledge on Magento, outside of our payment integration, which I see as a huge compliment to our team. Also, we’ve trained a lot of our developers ourselves, we’ve noticed that a majority of our devs come from the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, which gives them a good foundation to develop further.

Thomas: One of the priorities for us was to create a good working environment for our teams. Trying to give them freedom and autonomy. Something that was only reinforced during the COVID pandemic, as it proved a great opportunity to show that working truly remote for the majority of the company was not an issue. Beforehand, we already had some experience with remote working as we have a core development in Spain as well, where some work remotely permanently and the Integrations Team who work primarily out of the Amsterdam office. Now with the COVID situation starting to improve, we’re not entirely sure what the future will bring. One thing is certain however, five days at the office is not going to happen.

 

Q: MultiSafepay has been pushing a lot of new integrations, and features for those integrations, releasing new plugins for major platforms such as Magento 2 and Shopware 6. What have been the key contributors to these exciting releases?

Berend: The key is focus. In this market things move very fast. Before you’re completely sucked into all the possibilities, I’d say stay focused and maintain a quality level - make that the priority. Don’t be afraid to make decisions on what you want to direct your attention to. Our Integration Developers and Integration Specialists work together on the first line of support. By letting them work together, it becomes evident that quality and good documentation are the top priorities here. This shows itself in the support tabs in our plugins, just to give an example. Also, the thing with MultiSafepay is that every department is intertwined and works well together. Changes made to the core ultimately result in new features for the integrations themselves; you could say they find themselves at the heart of MultiSafepay. By putting heads together from departments such as support, account management and our developers, we visualize what matters to our clients and focus on delivering that value for them.

Thomas: The status quo for development teams used to be that every developer should have the same skill set and knowledge, and therefore should be able to work on every task of the shared backlog. The benefit to this approach would be that in the case of fluctuations in the availability of single team members, the overall way and pace of working is not affected. However, as we grew, the amount of integrations (20+) meant that this approach was no longer valid; we couldn’t expect our developers to be experts on all of our plugins. We now have teams of developers working on a couple of integrations together. For integrations such as Magento 2, we have a dedicated team with expert Magento developers, this is needed to deliver the high quality, XXL plugin that the market demands for Magento 2.

 

Q: What is your vision for the MultiSafepay products and services in the near future? Do you see any specific avenues of opportunity or trends you feel like we should be (more) involved in?

Berend: I’d say the majority of services by Payment Service Providers are becoming more and more complex. This is not necessarily a trend, but implementing our products in a simple fashion is one of the key things I think we should focus on in the near future. The key here remains being able to implement and utilize highly complex features, in such a way that the end-user (the merchant) does not have to deal with these complexities and is able to fully focus on their business. Good documentation and clear and transparent configurations, we are working on this already, but there’s still more work to be done to get this optimized.

 

Q: Lastly, the future of Fintech. As someone so involved in the developments in the market, how do you see the future of Fintech?

Thomas: The digital world is becoming more and more divided for business processes. In the past you’d be able to basically keep your entire business administration in an excel file on a floppy disk, nowadays we all know that’s no longer the case. Many businesses have dedicated services for many different aspects of their business. The key now becomes integrating these various services in a way that they all coexist and work together. We’ve seen great strides in making this a reality through no-code platforms. The goal of these platforms is to automate your business, without interference of developers. Basically creating an interface such as excel, a program that is simple in its use, but in actuality has so many possibilities through all the mechanics working behind the scenes, which the end-user doesn’t really have to interact with. A good example for this is home solutions, one can turn on their lights by clapping their hands three times, which requires coding and configurations. We want this to be the same for ecommerce solutions, being able to easily reconcile my MultiSafepay transaction in my bookkeeping software, without having to know anything about the tech behind it.

 

Q: Anything you’d like to get off your chest or add to the already existing questions?

Berend: We’ve heard from a lot of our guys on the teams that working at a company such as MultiSafepay is a completely different working environment compared to working for an agency. Where agencies often bring a lot of time stress, combined with the pressure of directly communicating with clients, working for MultiSafepay means working through regulated, controlled sprints and working on dedicated integrations for MultiSafepay. This is something we’d like to highlight, as this change in working style and culture can be a breath of fresh air for many developers, and as we touched on before; new talent is always welcome.

 


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