When it comes to business software the acronyms never end – ERP, CRM, RMS, WMS, BPM – and that’s before you get to the actual business ones themselves.
With vendors aggressively punting solutions that address everything from spreadsheets to warehouse management, Jeremy Waterman, MD: Softline ACCPAC, explains that “vanilla” packages are no longer the answer to the real challenges facing business – hence all the acronyms.
“When you look at the diversity of business solutions currently available, it would appear that business applications have become unnecessarily complicated and that the mid-market IT industry has gone mad. The reality of the situation is the complete opposite however," he says.
"Vendors like Softline Accpac have rather realised that all companies – no matter their size – want business applications that address their specific business needs. This means that generic accounting packages that treat all businesses the same and leave companies with the most difficult task of managing their customer interface are not ‘solutions’ and can no longer be considered as such.
Although the back office accounting needs of all companies are quite similar – making it a waste of time and resource to recreate a new general ledger or suite of financial and distribution modules for every occasion – Waterman explains that it is the company’s customer interface or its specific processors that make it unique or at least classify it according to a narrower niche.
“It is here that companies may require a Retail Management Suite (RMS) to meet their point of sale, supply chain management or even warehouse management requirements, or a Service Management Suite (SMS) to meet their equipment and service contract requirements, or a customised front end developed in CRM to manage their specific customer requirements. This list is endless – and we haven’t even started looking at their manufacturing requirements yet.”
Waterman adds that this is why companies like theirs have become far more sophisticated in their broad ERP offerings, and now tailor these offerings through their vertical market add-on applications. “Midsize companies now have access to business solutions that previously used to be the domain of only those large companies that could afford these customised solutions. They’re now available ‘out the box’ and they’re affordable.”
For the resellers, however, Waterman says this development is a double-edged sword. “The ERP market is booming with companies demanding a line of business application that can help them manage their businesses, cut costs and give them a true competitive advantage. The downside for resellers is thus that they can no longer rely on a set of generic skills to implement ‘vanilla’ accounting solutions.
"To offer true value now, resellers wishing to compete in the ERP space must personally have an understanding of the specific vertical that they wish to service – be that retail, service, manufacturing, mining, warehousing or healthcare as examples.”
With business software evolving at such a rapid pace, companies looking to invest are thus advised to turn to experts such as Softline Accpac. In this way they’ll ensure that when it comes to solutions menu, they’re offered more than just vanilla