Softline Accpac's 2007 annual reseller conference boasted a 45% increase in attendance this year, with over 250 attendees.

Jeremy Waterman, MD of Softline Accpac says attendance was an all time best for the company, especially the representation from resellers in Africa.  He says this was the 15th successful conference hosted by Softline ACCPAC, testament to the growing Accpac user base in sub-Saharan Africa as well as growing appreciation of Accpac’s comprehensive suite of end to end business applications.

“Our theme this year was freedom of choice.  Not always a user’s prerogative, there was a time when an ERP solution was a text-based interface on a specific operating system in close proximity of the mainframe computer.  It was proprietary and did not enjoy third party development.  A far cry from what we have today, which is why we decided to celebrate and extend further, ERP’s success,” says Waterman.

Centred on four specific areas, Softline Accpac’s theme explored freedom of choice solutions; environments; scalability and deployment.

“Solutions today need to be modular and not the monolithic contraptions of the past.  Customers must be able to tailor a suite of business applications to suit their needs.  Whether it is financial, distribution or warehousing, freedom of choice is the ultimate offering,” says Waterman.

Equally important to customers are the technology choices as it grows.  “It is here” says Waterman, “that the independence counts.  We are database and operating system independent and that matters today.  We also don’t believe that one size fits all.  Scalability in our views is only limited to a users imagination.”  

Freedom of choice in terms of deployment is a hot button for Waterman.  Having offered a hosted service since 2001, he says he is not sure why the market thinks Software as a Service (SaaS) is a new development: “We recognised the need for both hosted and managed services six years ago and continue to offer these services today.”

Waterman says traction within Africa is also improving.  He says that there was representation from each African country Softline Accpac deals with at this year’s conference: “This displays a real commitment to our technology.”

One region in particular that has grown is Ethiopia.  Softline Accpac channel manager, Jacqui Scorgie says that growth in Ethiopia is very exciting: “We are extremely pleased with the progress in Africa.  We awarded our Ethiopian reseller, BizSoft, two of the 2006 awards: one for ‘Accpac Best Performance East Africa’ and the other was ‘Accpac Best Achiever Africa’.”

In addition to the local community, representatives from Sage, Softline’s parent company also attended the conference and shared the Accpac ERP and Accpac CRM product roadmaps.  Waterman says international updates and feedback are of great relevance to the channel: “We are also attending the Sage Insights conference taking place in the USA in May, which will enable us to keep our resellers and customers up to date in terms of product launches, trends and industry issues.”

Softline Accpac also used the conference as an opportunity to launch Accpac RMS; its re-branded Retail Management Solution acquired form IsoPos, one of its most successful third party developers.  Waterman says Accpac RMS is much more than a POS system; it is a complete suite of products enabling any retail company to manage its end to end business process: “Accpac RMS modules include Inter Branch Transfers, Purchase Order Projections, Price Manager and Rapid Order Entry.  These are not only essential components of any retail solution, but also add tremendous value to the Accpac ERP Distribution Solution.”

Waterman adds that 2007 is about the liberation of ERP: The understanding of ERP is now at a conscious level and customers can start associating meaningful brand promises to a vendor: “For us, freedom of choice is a powerful proposition.  It really does focus on the customer and its unique needs.  How many other companies can really say that?”