Tantalus Outsources AP and Keeps Team Focused on Strategic Functions
Tantalus Labs was one of the first Cannabis license applicants under the federal government’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, and was issued the 45th license to legally produce and sell cannabis in Canada under the Cannabis Act.
To cultivate world-class cannabis, Tantalus Labs spent 4 years designing and building a unique 75,000 square foot purpose-built greenhouse in Maple Ridge that sustainably cultivates 3,000kg of high-quality cannabis per year. They use pure rainwater, full spectrum light, and elite genetics to produce some of the best Cannabis products in Canada. Today, Tantalus sells cannabis across Canada in BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, PEI, and YK, and registered their first international sale in 2022.
Lucas Jenkins joined Tantalus Labs as their CFO in November of 2016. At that time, the facility was still under construction and there were only 5 employees in the company. In the early days, Lucas was the only finance person and did everything from bookkeeping, financial modeling and budgeting, to capital raises and investor relations. It was a very busy time and hours were long. Once Tantalus Labs started to experience commercial success, Lucas was able to bring on a team of 3-4 people and spend more of his time mentoring and managing more complex issues and focus on the company’s ongoing strategy.
Despite a growing arsenal of technology to help better manage back office functions, there is still a significant administrative component to handling Accounts Payable. Often managed by more junior people, the AP role suffers high turnover rates as people naturally want to graduate to more complex areas of finance and accounting. This was the case at Tantalus Labs. Lucas was seeing too many people come and go in that role, not fully leveraging technology, and creating an ongoing burden of recruiting and training for the HR department.
Recruit, train, manage, repeat. Because the Accounts Payable role requires a lot of data entry work, many find the role to be boring once mastered. At Tantalus, there was no shortage of AP expenses, creating an administration-heavy, deadline-intensive workload that could be monotonous at times. High turnover was the result, which created too much disruption within the small finance team.
Today’s AP technology can benefit an organization in many ways including reduced data entry, faster approval cycles, lower risk of fraud, less human error, and better business intelligence. But when the AP role experiences high turnover, it’s normal that the technology supporting the function is underutilized. To benefit from AP technology, there needs to be consistent, ongoing oversight and a commitment to process improvement.
In his role as CFO, Lucas was starting to see outsourcing emerge as a more common practice and wanted to explore that for the AP function at Tantalus. Having interned with Omar Visram, the founder and CEO of Enkel when they were both at KPMG, he decided to give Enkel a try.
Enkel had established technology and processes for running the AP function. From paperless invoice management, to controls for approving invoices, to process automation for invoice submission and entry, they were able to manage it all in a tightly controlled system.
Enkel brings a full AP team to the table and manages the training, oversight, recruiting, and other staffing and HR activities on an ongoing basis. They manage the administrative work like entering invoices, and batch the payables for review by the Tantalus team.
Today, Tantalus Labs is an 80 person company focused on the company’s core business. They’ve stopped the turnover in their AP function while eliminating administrative time spent manually entering invoices into the system. Now that the team is “out of the weeds” of AP activities, they have more time to focus on strategic aspects of the finance and accounting functions and do more detailed financial analysis to better support decision making throughout the organization.
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