With the proliferation of accounting software products available, it is difficult for the uninitiated to work out which product is suitable for a particular business, what the reseller needs to know to sell the product; and what the differences are between products. Australian Reseller News' Durelle Fry spoke to several accounting software publishers to find out about these issuesAccountMate SoftwareARN spoke to Greg Tognoli, executive vice president of AccountMate Software and Gerard McMullan, managing director of No Fear Software Services.
AccountMate is a US accounting software developer that is looking to expand into Australia and New Zealand. With this aim, Gerard McMullen has set up the No Fear Software organisation to market its product. No Fear is a distributor on a mission to appoint business partners across Australia. There are about six business partners so far with AccountMate established in around 20 installations.
Target market. AccountMate targets the medium business marketplace - businesses with revenues ranging from $1Ð$2 million up to $50 million. Most clients are in the range up to $25 million and have at least 10 user systems.
AccountMate is looking to pick up Attache and Sybiz customers wanting to move up to a larger system. Two product lines are offered: Visual AccountMate/ 400, running on IBM's AS/400 platform; and Visual AccountMate SQL, running on Microsoft's SQL Server.
Modules. AccountMate has always been sold 100 per cent through the VAR channel and the VAR purchases for the user on a per module basis. Modules include: general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, purchase order, bank reconciliation, manufacturer's inventory, inventory control, system manager, contact manager and sales order.
Modules range in price from $2000 to $6000 RRP per module.
Suitability. AccountMate provides non-proprietary, modifiable source code with its products. Users can have software that is customised to fit their business.
The object-oriented code presents an advantage to business partners because they can cover a wide range of business applications and platforms with one solution. AccountMate believes the modi- fication business is very strong because most users will pay to get an accounting software package tailored to fit their business, especially when the software can be modified as business needs change. This tailoring is done by the business partner, presenting a further advantage.
Foreign currency. The software is multi-currency but each invoice is in an individual currency. Capabilities are available for multiple currency if it is required by the user.
Modification for Australian conditions. AccountMate is a flexible product and the necessary modifications have been made for the Australian market. A GST capability has been built into the product, should the need arise.
Resellers required? Yes. AccountMate through No Fear is looking for business partners who can sell the product in vertical market applications.
Reseller assistance. Web-based training is being set up this month, and US trainers will be coming to Australia to conduct comprehensive training courses on product customisation.
AccountMate helps business partners to generate leads in their own area, provides newsletters to help the end user, and helps the business partner to conduct seminars.
The training provided by AccountMate also teaches business partners to grow their business and become more successful.
ARN spoke to Daryl Green, account manager at Microchannel.
Target market. Accpac is primarily oriented to businesses with more than 50 employees. The product runs on Btrieve or SQL Server database.
Modules. Core modules: general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory control, order entry and purchase orders.
With multi-currency the price is $2295 RRP per module, and without multi-currency the price is $1450 RRP per module.
For the Internet. e.Advantage Server (gateways to the accounting system with full security) is $15,000 RRP; e.Server Applets (JAVA, ActiveX components that talk to the e.Advantage Server for transaction processing/enquiries) are $795 RRP each.
Suitability. Off-the-shelf vertical market software for manufacturing, service industries, time-billing industries, membership organisations, job costing, and point-of-sale features are available. Custom fields are built into the database.
Foreign currency. Stock can be sold or purchased in foreign currencies, received or paid for in foreign currencies, and banked in foreign currencies.
Modification for Australian conditions. The software has been written to international accounting standards. The software additionally fully complies with Australian requirements.
Resellers required? Yes.
Reseller assistance. Support involves product pre-sales and technical training, sales rebates, marketing development funds and sales incentives.
ARN spoke to Michael Rich, managing director of Attache.
Target market. Attache's key offering, Attache Business Partner, targets small-to-medium sized businesses that typic-ally employ five to 100 full-time staff.
Modules. The typical module price is $980 RRP and modules include: customers, products, order entry, customer special pricing, multi-location stock, suppliers, purchasing, general ledger, payroll and job costing (soon). Supply of the modules is normally within 24 to 48 hours.
Suitability. There is extensive use of "building blocks" that enable the software to be tailored without altering the source code.
Foreign currency. This facility is available in the purchasing module now and it is soon to be extended to other modules.
Modification for Australian conditions. The software is 100 per cent Australian.
Resellers required? Yes. Especially from experienced accounting software resellers of small business packages that have users outgrowing these systems; and from larger packages. Local Attache distributors sell, install and support their clients. Accounting software is the major focus of their business.
Associate Attache dealers help clients find an accounting solution but rarely get involved in installations or support as accounting software tends to be a minor part of their business.
Reseller assistance. "We mother them to death. They are like family to us," said Rich. Attache assists its dealers with marketing campaigns and regards this as a major advantage of being associated with Attache. Most material is provided free. There is also free technical training, free software, a free help line and regular conferences.
After the sale is over. Most resellers remain the direct line of contact between Attache and the client, others prefer just to help on the marketing side (Associate Dealers).
ARN spoke to Brad Shofer (below), joint managing director of Data-Tech softwareTarget market. Data-Tech Software offers a range of products that cater for almost every type of Australian small-to-medium business. There are several factors that determine the M.Y.O.B. product best suited to a specific business. Some of these factors include monetary turnover, number of transactions and number of employees.
Data-Tech has a team of sales advice specialists who will go through the criteria and determine the most applicable product for each type of business.
The sales advice team can be contacted on 1800 550 077.
A feature of M.Y.O.B. is that it offers businesses a growth path. Products include M.Y.O.B. FirstAccounts - for smaller service businesses that invoice their customers for labour or time, or who do not manage inventory ($199 RRP); M.Y.O.B. Accounting, which includes general ledger, chequebook, sales and receivables, purchases and payables as well as inventory ($399 RRP); M.Y.O.B. Accounting with Payroll, which includes all the features of M.Y.O.B. Accounting and adds integrated payroll ($525 RRP); and M.Y.O.B. Premier Accounting for businesses which require multiuser access ($999 RRP). Other products include M.Y.O.B. PowerPay ($499 RRP) and M.Y.O.B. AssetManager ($299 RRP).
A user can upgrade at any time to any M.Y.O.B. accounting product without the need to retrain or rekey data.
Modules. All M.Y.O.B. modules are in one package. Components include general ledger, chequebook (with bank reconciliation), job costing, debtors, creditors, stock control and payroll (optional).
Suitability. "M.Y.O.B. products are designed to be flexible," said Shofer.
M.Y.O.B. accounting software includes more than 50 ready-made templates. Each can be customised for the user's business, or they can build their own from scratch.
In addition there are 14 M.Y.O.B. Insight guides currently available that contain industry-specific assistance to help the user customise M.Y.O.B. to the particular needs of the business.
Face-to-face assistance can be obtained from over 250 M.Y.O.B. Quality Consultants Australia wide. The Directory of Quality Consultants is included with all M.Y.O.B. software.
Foreign currency. "The best way to deal with a foreign currency in M.Y.O.B. is to create a separate data file for the other currency. You then use this data file for creating and printing sales whilst keeping everything else in your 'Australian' data file," said Shofer.
Modification for Australian conditions. Shofer said: "M.Y.O.B. accounting software has been specifically designed for Australian small businesses and offers all the features and support they need." The products have been developed in Australia by an Australian-owned company.
"M.Y.O.B. is one of the only business accounting systems that prompts the user to enter their Australian Company Number (ACN), and automatically customises relevant documents to include this information. Failure to place the ACN on certain company documents can attract heavy fines from the Australian Securities Commission," according to Shofer.
Resellers required? Enquiries from resellers are welcome. Contact the sales advice team on 1800 555 007. "Data-Tech Software is 100 per cent committed to making sales through the reseller channel," said Shofer.
Assistance provided? Data-Tech software aims to provide resellers with all the material and information they need.
After the sale is over. "M.Y.O.B. products are essentially 'sell and forget'. We offer 60 days introductory support to all users to get them started," said Shofer.
Navision Software Australasia
ARN spoke to Henrik Jeberg, managing director of Navision Software Australasia, to get the nitty-gritty on the company's software offerings.
Target market. Navision is in the mid-range market and is described as being suitable for businesses from 20Ð100 users. While this is the primary target market, there are no technical limits and the company has sites around 700 users.
Modules. General ledger, cash manager, sales and receivables, contact management, purchases and payables, inven-tory resources, jobs, human resources and fixed assets.
Internet shopping functionality will be released later this year.
Each module averages in price at around $3000 RRP, but they are granular so the customer pays only for the exact functionality used. On top of the functionality pricing is a per seat fee of $1000 RRP, plus some technical/administrative modules. A 20-user site with full functionality would cost around $50,000 RRP.
Suitability. Navision software comes with built-in fourth-generation language and visual development capabilities "unrivalled in the marketplace today". Both the application and the Integrated Development Environment is fully Win-dows 32-bit object oriented, and holds the "Designed for Microsoft Windows 95/NT", "Office '97", and "BackOffice" logos. Simple modifications like screen layout and report design can be carried out by the customer. More substantial work is carried out by the extensive Navision Partner network referred to as Navision Solution Centres.
These Solution Centres undergo rigorous training and tests before qualifying as certified Solution Centres.
Foreign Currency. Navision Financials has extensive multi-currency capabilities. Being a European product, these capabilities have already been developed and refined "long before the introduction of the European Monetary Union" that will make the euro mandatory for International Accounting Systems.
Modification for Australian conditions. The basic development takes place in the Danish headquarters. The so-called "worldwide" product is developed in US English by an international diversified workforce. The remaining functionality that varies from country to country, like legislative and market-driven differences, are developed by the local subsidiaries.
The final "Australian product" is assembled in Denmark as a merger of standard worldwide functionality and the locally developed functionality, to ensure a consistent and upgradeable product.
Resellers required? Yes. There are still a few slots open in major cities.
Reseller assistance. Navision provides extensive training for sales reps, implementation consultants and programmers. All training and tools are free of charge. All sales are made through the channel. Jeburg claims: "Navision never has and never will sell directly to the end users."
After the sale is over. Jeberg says a competent reseller should have no difficulties selling services valued above the licence value itself.
ARN spoke with Kevin Lief, managing director of Pastel.
Target Market. The Pastel Partner V4 range is aimed at the "medium-sized" business, typically with five to 100 employees. Special add-on modules are available for manufacturing and retail companies. The Pastel range can be run as a single-user operation, a multi-user operation that allows up to 10 users to operate the system simultaneously.
Modules. Full Programs: Pastel Partner Bookkeeper V4 (integrated) is $495 RRP; Pastel Partner Accounting V4 (accounting with stock) is $995 RRP; Pastel Partner Manufacturing V4 (accounting with- materials) is $1495 RRP; Pastel Partner Point-of-Sale V4 (accounting with POS) is $1495 RRP; Pastel Partner Ultra V4 (Manufacturing) is $1995 RRP; Pastel Payroll (20 to 100) is $395Ð$995 RRP; Pastel Fixed Assets is $495 RRP.
Add-on Modules. The following modules can be added on to the Bookkeeper and Accounting programs as they are needed:
Pastel Partner Manufacturing V4 is $500 RRP; Pastel Partner Point-of-Sale V4 is $500 RRP; Pastel Partner Ultra V4 is $1000 RRP; Crystal Reports (access data files direct) is $349 RRP; Network Pack (up to five) is $500 RRP; Network Pack (up to 10) is $1000 RRP.
Specialised add-ons are available for linking Pastel to stand-alone databases. These are priced from $295Ð$495 RRP.
Suitability. Programs can be configured to the specific needs of each business. Input screens, reports, inventory format, forms and graphs can be customised by the click of a button. Additional add-ons are available for specialised reporting requirements and ad-hoc reports can be produced via an add-on program called Crystal Reports. Pastel can function in real-time with other stand-alone database packages via a linking add-on module.
Foreign Currency. Foreign currency facilities are included in all Pastel Partner V4 accounting packages allowing 16 currencies in addition to the home currency.
Modification for Australian conditions. Pastel Partner claims it "has been completely developed for the Australian market".
Resellers required? Pastel Software has a network of Gold Consultants and Dealers reaching across Australia, and "is always ready to welcome new ones".
Reseller assistance. Pastel dealers are provided with a dealer kit containing literature, demonstration software, programs and brochures.
After the sale is over. Further involvement with the user comes from assistance in installing the program, training of staff and customising reports.
ARN spoke to Stephen Sims, regional director for Platinum Software, Australia and New Zealand.
Target Market. Platinum SQL is suitable for businesses with a turnover of anywhere between $30Ð$500 million, while Platinum for Windows suits businesses with a turnover of $5Ð$30 million.
Modules. Platinum SQL: general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash management, asset management, FRx financial report writer, purchase order, order entry, inventory, multi-currency manager, budget manager, advanced allocations, customisation workbench, Crystal Reports for Platinum and Crystal Info for Platinum.
Exact pricing is not given "for competitive reasons", but as a guideline, a five-user system comprising general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and cash management "is in the region of $60,000Ð$100,000".
Platinum for Windows: general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, bank book multi-currency manager, consolidations, inter-company processing, currency translations, advanced allocations, budgeting, FRx financial, report writer, system man-ager, inven-tory, sales order and purchase order project costing, Crystal Reports for Platinum, Crystal Info for Platinum and customisation workbench.
As a guideline, a three-user system comprising general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable and bank book is around $8000 to $15,000.
Suitability. "All Platinum products are based on industry standard technology so customisations are very easy to achieve," said Young.
Foreign currency. Both products have full multi-currency support.
Modification for Australian conditions. "Both products fully meet the requirements of the Australian marketplace," said Young.
Resellers required? According to Young, the company is "always looking for resellers".
Reseller assistance? "We offer the Partners for Growth reseller program which includes full access to product, product training, marketing development fund, sales, and marketing support including lead generation."
After the sale is over. Full involvement.
ARN spoke to Greg Wilkinson, managing director of Intuit Australia.
Target market. QuickBooks has been specifically designed for use by non-accountants in small-to-medium sized businesses of up to 50 people. The company's latest survey (1997) showed that 80 per cent of current QuickBooks users had between five and 30 employees, and 50 per cent had annual revenues in 1995 between $100,000 and $999,999.
The key categories of users were found in accounting/bookkeeping, construction, consulting firms, manufacturers, medical/dental/health and retail.
QuickBooks RRP $345.95
QuickBooks Pro RRP $445.95
Quick Payroll RRP $339.95
Suitability. QuickBooks may be customised to suit a variety of industries and businesses. The user may simply follow the Easy Step Interview in the start-up process, and the new customised invoice feature allows invoice layout to be revised to suit the user with fields added and moved, as required.
A new software developers' kit allows information contained within Quicken, QuickBooks and QuickPayroll to be shared with other external applications and recorded into the Intuit range of products (examples of third-party integration to date include Microsoft Office small business edition, Buildsoft and Stock and Station Agent).
"This enhances productivity by eliminating the need for data re-entry and facilitates cross application reporting," said Wilkinson.
"To further improve the relationship between client and accountant, QuickBooks software now features a translator utility which allows files to be converted to the user's accountant's own professional in-house software program."
Foreign currency. Not applicable.
Modification for Australian conditions. Quick-Books has been localised for the Australian market with cheque layout also revised to suit the Australian Payment and Clearing Association standards.
Resellers required? The Quicken range of products is published and distributed by Reckon Intuit, through a network of "leading retail and software outlets nationwide". Further details of reseller opportunities can be obtained from Jeremy Richardson on (02) 9562 7922 or www.reckon.com.auReseller assistance. Resellers can order stock from a Web site and receive regular visits by representatives.
After the sale is over. Consumers are referred to the reseller via advertising and communications campaigns and via direct mail when product upgrades are available.
ARN spoke to is Mark Young, sales and marketing director at Sybiz Software.
Target market. Sybiz Vision is described as a mid-range accounting system designed for small- to medium-sized businesses, as well as divisions of larger organisations. The company claims it is ideally suited to businesses with between two and 50 users on Windows 95, NT, OS2 and Novell networks.
Young said: "Sybiz specifically targets businesses that need flexibility in their accounting system."
Modules. General ledger and cashbook debtors, creditors, purchase orders, sales orders, inventory, telemarketing, point-of-sale, bill of materials, job costing, vision pay, vision remote link, import costing, and clothing and accessories.
Sybiz Vision is sold by the module, ranging from $600 RRP for purchase orders to $1750 RRP for the General Ledger. A typical system costs around $10,000.
Multiuser licensing also applies.
New Sybiz Software licences include all upgrades released within 12 months of purchase. At the end of 12 months, the user can opt to take out SybizCover to ensure they don't miss out on any forthcoming upgrades.
Suitability. The Sybiz Vision program was developed using industry-standard development tools to offer a high level of customisation and integration with other Windows software.
Some simple types of customisation can be done by the user themselves using tools that come with the package. This includes adding custom fields, changing the names of ledgers and creating reports tailored to the business. Windows programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel can work directly with the data stored in Vision, as it uses an industry-standard database. Full ODBC capabilities mean that data can be transferred easily to other Windows programs.
A report wizard allows even non-technical users to quickly design reports tailored to the business, such as a sales analysis. The system also integrates with Seagate's Crystal reporting products for expanded report flexibility.
Vision's open design offers compatibility with other Windows software and development tools, allowing third-party developers to provide cost-effective custom solutions for businesses. Under the Sybiz Business Solutions Program, programs developed by other countries which link seamlessly to the Sybiz Vision product are promoted through the channel.
Sybiz business solutions are programs designed to suit different industries and types of businesses.
Foreign currency. "Sybiz Vision handles any number of currencies, with or without decimals, across all modules," said Young.
The most common currencies are pre-set in the system while "others can easily be added". There is a simple facility which allows the user to edit exchange rates as required. Sybiz Vision also caters for foreign currency banking. Variances due to currency fluctuations are automatically posted to the general ledger. The currency fields are 13 digits long, to cater for the large amounts encountered in countries like Indonesia, Italy, Russia and India.
Modification for Australian conditions. Sybiz Vision is a locally-developed product. It is modified for sale overseas.
Resellers required? Yes. Young said: "Sybiz is actively looking for professional reseller organisations to join its national channel program."
Sybiz offers four levels of involvement in its Channel Partner program:
1. Solution Provider - provides full service to Sybiz customers including sales, training and support2. Reseller - works in a sales capacity only3. Authorised Support Consultant - technical specialist who provides support and other technical services such as network installation4. Developer - develop third-party software which integrates with Sybiz Vision.
Reseller assistance? Sybiz offers resellers the following benefits:
Full technical and sales training and supporte-mail bulletins and newslettersfree monthly training seminarsSybiz resellers can offer their customers a national telephone support hotline, freeing their time for sales and on-site support workSybiz offers marketing and promo- tional support for resellers through a Marketing Development Fundaccess to vertical market software from third-party developers through the Sybiz Business Solutions programThe opportunity to work with other top Solution Providers, Resellers, and Authorised Support ConsultantsAfter the sale is over. Sybiz Solution Providers have full customer contact in the post-sales period. Alternatively, they can opt to sell their customers a Sybiz telephone hotline support provided by "expert, dedicated staff" in Sybiz's National Support Centre.
Data-Tech releases M.Y.O.B. Accounting Version8Described by Data-Tech as "the most significant upgrade yet", this new package offers several new features.
OfficeLink allows users to seamlessly link M.Y.O.B. with products such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect. Data-Tech has worked with Microsoft to ensure the Small Business Financial Manager found in the Small Business Edition of Microsoft Office 97 works seamlessly with M.Y.O.B. Accounting. The product provides User-Defined Ageing - users can pay suppliers electronically.
M.Y.O.B. Accounting Version 8 is avail-able now for an RRP of $399 (M.Y.O.B. Accounting with Payroll is $525).
Intellisol International and Nexus Business Software sign distribution agreementNexus Business Software, the Australian developer of the Nexus Diamond Series, has appointed Sydney-based financial and business solutions provider of Financial Intellisol International as its NSW distributor.
The agreement grants Intellisol International the Nexus suite distribution rights, including the establishment of new business partners, throughout NSW and the ACT. (Existing business partners are not affected by this agreement.)ContactsAccpacTel (02) 9360 4493Fax (02) 9360 6786AttacheTel 13 30 45Fax (02) 9925 0481Data-Tech Tel 1800 555 007Fax (02) 9770 9088Intellisol InternationalTel (02) 9630 0600Fax (02) 9630 0385MicrochannelTel (02) 9906 3666Fax (02) 9906 3665Navision SoftwareTel (07) 3221 8070Fax (07) 3221 0732No Fear Software ServicesTel (02) 9319 4008Fax (02) 9698 9791Pastel Accounting SoftwareTel (02) 99091588 Fax (02) 9909 3688Platinum SoftwareTel (02) 9927 6200Fax (02) 9956 8976Reckon IntuitTel (02) 9562 7900Fax (02) 9550 5097Sybiz SoftwareTel (02) 9954 5211Fax (02) 9954 5240