The enterprise resource planning stampede in the channel has begun.
After a myriad of promises from the major applications vendors about their potential in the small-and-medium business (SMB) market, sales are finally coming and resellers are getting the opportunity to share in the spoils.
Alpen Products, a Sydney-based importer, manufacturer and distributor is Baan's first SMB win in Australia, but the deal has come courtesy of its reseller, IMB Business Systems.
"We stumbled across Baan after looking at another software package being marketed by IMB," Greg Byrne, Alpen's managing director, admitted to ARN.
"We chose IMB because we wanted to integrate modern functionality across a diverse range of businesses and we recognised they had a lot of answers to our questions and understood our needs."
The Alpen site is representative of how most ERP deals in the SMB space are likely to be won and the leading vendors know it.
Like Baan, SAP and Oracle plan to use the channel to woo potential SMB customers and have initiated programs to recruit partners.
Channel is crucial
But they still may be missing the point, according to Ian Buckley, IMB's client services manager. The choice of who they recruit will be equally crucial.
"Our target market is businesses up to $50 million turnover," Buckley said. "Most of the big players have ignored that market because they find it too hard to justify the significant implementation costs involved.
"Even though some of the larger vendors like SAP and Oracle now have applications resellers, most are not interested in the sub-$50 million market."
With revenues of $15 to $20 million a year, Alpen fits IMB's ideal customer profile, Buckley said.
The Alpen rollout is being fast-tracked so the system can go live on October 1st, just four months after the initial implementation was started.
To assist with the extensive staff retraining and integration of legacy data required for the migration, IMB had the market experience to call on specialist integrator The Implementers.
"It was essential to have The Implementers because the training and set-up required for the suite is certainly a high intensity job," Alpen's Byrne said. "Our operations are fully integrated so everything that happens from the loading dock onwards directly impacts the balance sheet."
But despite implementing the whole Baan suite, Alpen will not be using all of its modules from the outset.
"We bought the whole lock, stock and barrel', but we're not implementing everything," Byrne said.
"Baan likes to sell and implement the suite as a whole. That's changing down the track, but for now we thought it was better to take the whole system and switch off the modules that aren't applicable to us."