Queensland gets Professional Advantage

Queensland gets Professional Advantage

Enterprise systems developer and reseller, Professional Advantage, has opened a Brisbane office on the back of growing IT services demand in the Smart State.

Joint managing director and co-founder, Steve Howcraft, said that his 15-year-old business already had staff working in Queensland. The office would open in June.

“Our plan is to establish a full service office in Brisbane,” Howcraft said. “We have already transferred a senior software developer to Brisbane — a specialist IP developer for the Sun Microsystems cash and bank product suite, who will establish a local development team.”

The Brisbane office currently has three staff. That number is expected to grow to 15-30 in the next three years.

Howcraft said Brisbane was the last part of the east coast his company had to cover. The move was being helped by the Queensland Government’s Smart State initiative, which made the state attractive as a centre for software development. Professional Advantage already has 25-30 customers in Queensland seeking support, training, and the enhancement and upgrading of their IT systems.

The company was formed by Howcraft in 1989 with business partner Derek Rippingdale. It now employs 150 staff in Sydney, 50 in Melbourne and 12 in Fargo, USA.

It is a major player in medium-sized business ERP markets as a partner for Sun, Epicor and Microsoft Business Solutions, and an OEM developer, writing product for Microsoft and Sun.

Howcraft said his company has created the Debt Collection products for Sun and Microsoft, Procurement and Cash Products for Sun, and Business Intelligence for Microsoft.

“We go down the food chain and back up the food chain, which is unusual,” he said.

Professional Advantage has looked at further expansion, but Howcraft doubted Adelaide was large enough for the business and said cultural differences in Perth were too great.

Howcraft claimed it was easier to do business in London, where the comp­any employs UK-based distributors for its products, than Western Australia.

New Zealand had also been discounted, despite invitations to go there, because strong competition made it difficult to earn sufficient profit.

“Companies do these fancy acquisitions and growth but they don’t deal with profit,” Howcraft said. “Customers want businesses to be there in three years. Some of our rivals aren’t there anymore. We have no aggressive expansion. Brisbane will be a big thing for us. We are just conservative guys who want to remain in business.”

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