The wisdom of Solomon in a box

The wisdom of Solomon in a box

It might not bestow the wisdom of the legendary King Solomon, but Solomon Software's enterprise accounting package can help you run your business more effectively, according to the company's international business development manager, Marnie King.

`It's more than just an accounting package. It's an enterprise-wide system that can help with lots of areas, like the help desk,' King said.

There are close to 285 accounting packages in Australia, but King believes Solomon has an advantage over its competitors because of its features and flexibility.

`The nuts and bolts of all accounting packages are the same, but ours is the most flexible accounting system in the world. It's highly customisable, so it actually does what you want it to do. We've won awards in the US for its flexibility.'

In addition to the core accounting package, Solomon offers a range of different modules for different industries. These include: the Distribution Series for order management, purchasing and inventory controls, the Project Series for project management, the Service Series for dispatch, equipment maintenance and billing, the Manufacturing Series for production environments, and the E-Business Series for worldwide electronic communication, in addition to the core accounting package, Financial Series.

The Customisation Manager (CU) module enables the customer to adapt their accounting system to the specific requirements of their organisation. With Customisation Manager and Basic Script Language, screens in any module can be quickly and easily modified without changing the underlying source code.

`The product's geared to SMEs but it's not spe-cific to any particular industry,' King explained. `The modules give you flexibility. For example, the service module will tell a service business like an air conditioning company when to service their clients.'

King's role as international business development manager means that she is responsible for the localisation of Solomon's software to Australian standards, developing and updating the local Web site and facilitating training courses for the company.

King said localisation includes using Australian spelling and date systems, but also gearing the software to Australian taxation laws, including the GST due in July.

`We're totally prepared for the GST. We've done it before overseas, for example with the VAT in the UK. We'll get through it just like we did with Y2K.'

King has worked in the IT industry for more than 10 years in a variety of positions at a number of different companies, including administration, technical support, sales and marketing.

She has a sound understanding of the channel, having worked at a number of distributors and value added resellers (VARs).

`I'm glad I've had so many positions in IT,' King said. `At one point I tried to escape. I started in IT the second I left school as a receptionist and I thought it was time I did something else. I moved to the music industry, but I didn't know anyone and I missed the interaction. I came back to IT because of the opportunity at Solomon. It's a smaller company and I can grow with it. I love what I'm doing and I love the fact that I could do anything in the company.'

Solomon started in the US nearly 20 years ago, and Solomon Australia was launched in June 1997 as a joint venture between the US-based Solomon Inc and a group of Australian investors.

King said the US parent company was formed when a group of programmers from Exxon Oil decided their work should have a wider market, and there are now 18 affiliates worldwide.

`They wrote the package and then realised it could be adapted to a full enterprise product, not just basic accounting. They're still around and involved in running the company, which I think is a good sign.'

Solomon's software was originally DOS-based but was completely rewritten for Windows several years ago, King said.

`Lots of other accounting packages just made DOS packages look like Windows by adding drop-down menus. Solomon rewrote the whole Software in Visual Basic, so it's a full Windows product. The others are like a pig with lippy.'

King said the company is investigating entering the application service provider (ASP) market through relationships with its VARs.

`All the software can be customised for ASPs. In the US we're working on that with VARs especially. Some of the VARs want to become ASPs and use Solomon. We're working out the licensing structure and should be ready in about four months or so.'

Strategic partnerships with Microsoft, IBM, Citrix and Compaq are key to Solomon's success.

`Our biggest challenge last year was keeping up with Microsoft changes and Windows 2000. We're based on the Microsoft systems so anything they do affects us. They are very good at keeping us up to date.'

King believes Solomon's close relationship with Microsoft is a plus for customers. `It's the power of one. That's our big catch-cry: one database, one operating system, one product etc. We have backup from Microsoft, not 15 different databases that can go wrong. Microsoft is a strong company.'

When Solomon first started in Australia they had a few problems when an unauthorised American reseller sold directly to an Australian end user and implemented the systems incorrectly.

`It was just as we were setting up,' King recalled. `We tried to fix the problem but it was too late. It was a false start. They understand the situation now but they have long memories and they like to bring it up now and again.'

To avoid further problems Solomon has delayed the formal launch of its product in Australia until February, in order to build up its channel partnerships. Despite the delay, however, the company already has 50 end-user clients.

King also emphasised the priority the company places on partnerships. `The importance is huge. They're our market. We sell to end users through the channel, never direct. They're our bread and butter.'

The company has eight VARs in capital cities around Australia, three in Melbourne, three in Sydney, and two in Perth, and the company is currently negotiating with a ninth VAR in Brisbane.

`We're aiming for 20 ultimately,' said King. `And not just in the main capitals but also in metropolitan centres like Newcastle and Wollongong.'

Solomon Software

(02) 9498 5777

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