New Zealand-based financial software developer Greentree, formerly known as Focus Software, is experiencing a metamorphosis, taking on a new name, upgrading its antiquated CBA sites and expanding into European and North American markets.
The process has been gradual, with Greentree having just entered the second stage of a three-part process in the transition from its CBA financial sites to new, Windows-based systems.
"We have just finished the beta phase for the financial modules of Greentree," explained Richard Jones, general manager of Greentree Australia. "We are now entering stage two, which involves beta testing the distribution modules of Greentree in a large NZ motor vehicle company," said Jones, who assured Australian companies with CBA sites that Greentree plans for the second stage to be in beta test mode in Australia by the end of September.
"A lot of our competitors' products have the same fundamental design as they have always had. This means there is a 20-year-old engine and a new Windows front end. We've taken the unique step of designing the whole thing from the ground up," said Jones of the complicated process.
The third stage of the transformation from CBA systems to the new Greentree systems will focus on manufacturing and payroll modules and will be released in the second quarter next year, according to Jones.
By March 2000, Jones plans to have 120 live Greentree sites in Australia and New Zealand, with the ultimate goal of being the "leading mid-range financial software vendor in Australasia". Jones is confident that Greentree is well on track to meet this projection, with a 30 per cent increase in staff over the last three months, including personnel in the UK and the States. "You need to have your eyes on the world stage if you want to be successful and we will look for local partners in the UK and North America," Jones said.
The desire to push Greentree into new markets, which was 18 months in the making, was partly behind Focus Software's name change. "This streamlines who we are. By having the same name as our product we have better branding," Jones added.
However, the focus and the majority of energy will still be poured into the Australasian region, according to Jones. "We compete in the mid-range arena and our biggest strength is the fact that we are local. Imported products will struggle with things like the GST and other particular regional issues. Our financial software takes into consideration the local conditions," Jones said.
Jones conceded that success in this region relies on getting Greentree's channel ready for the new financial sites and having them involved in preparing customers systems. "We are encouraging and supporting our resellers to put on one or two sites and move their skillset up to Greentree level."
Being equal to this task involves becoming involved in a client's business, even hiring an accountant to add credibility to a reseller's financial standing, Jones said.
"Resellers should look to add value to the software because most people take accounting software for granted as this can be their third-generation accounting product. The channel needs to take on a consultative role."