ACCPAC International has continued the trend of accounting package vendors moving toward the lucrative enterprise resource planning (ERP) market, announcing a number of new broad-reaching alliances and products.
ACCPAC is also recruiting for new business partners to specialise in a number of fields and has introduced a range of initiatives designed to improve the overall calibre of its channel.
"We need a larger, stronger channel to take advantage of the growth in the small business and corporate market where we operate," Bill Copeland, ACCPAC's vice president of marketing, told ARN.
To achieve its objective, the company has launched a number of channel programs concurrently with the release of its new ACCPAC for Windows 4.0 product.
The major change is the introduction of a certification process that ranks ACCPAC's channel on one of four levels of expertise - approved, certified, specialist or executive.
Dubbed ACES, partner organisations require a minimum of one sales person and one qualified installer to meet the base requirements of the program, according to Low Gee Sing, ACCPAC's vice president of sales and marketing for Asia-Pacific.
A series of examinations must then be passed to attain the various certification levels.
According to Copeland, an aggressive six-day "bootcamp" held in Canada several times a year can fast-track the training process for partners keen to reach a particular level quickly.
The latest version of ACCPAC for Windows is also driving a series of changes in the company's channel.
In addition to incorporating Microsoft's Component Object Model (COM) technology and 32-bit functionality into version 4.0, ACCPAC has also signed agreements with other vendors to roll a number of enterprise workflow and electronic commerce features into the product.
Later this year, the company will begin bundling JetForm's workflow package and Seagate Software's Crystal Info reporting tools with ACCPAC for Windows 4.0.
Add-on modules incorporating Ironside's business-to-business Web commerce solutions and Inex's consumer-to-business storefront solutions will also be available by early 1999.
Low claims that Y2K compliance, the adoption of Internet commerce and the increased penetration of Microsoft's BackOffice suite of products are driving the growth of ACCPAC solutions, and subsequently the need for more channel partners.
And they don't need to be resellers to fit the bill.
"The demand for accounting and business management software solutions is so high that resellers are finding it difficult to service their clients' needs," Low said. "So this is a great opportunity for systems integrators, Microsoft solution providers and certified practising accountants (CPAs) to sign up with ACCPAC."
Copeland said ACCPAC is hopeful its network of business partners will be able to coordinate their varying areas of expertise to provide a complete solution for their customers.
It's a concept Copeland calls the "virtual VAR".
To further validate its channel, ACCPAC has established the Business Partner Advisory Council, which comprises 12 of its resellers from around the world.
To be convened twice a year, the council will discuss issues of importance to the channel and offer advice to ACCPAC on future product directions, Copeland said.