SAP America Inc. is putting its reputation and channel-marketing muscle behind financial software solutions developed by several of SAP’s ISV partners for its Business One software for small and midsize businesses.
SAP will give the ISV partners—including Altex, FXport Technology, Information Systems Group and Tenrox—access to Business One reseller partners and other SAP-affiliated ISVs, said Ralf Mehnert-Meland, director of business development for SAP Business One.
SAP unveiled the relationships during Tech 2005, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ annual IT conference in Las Vegas.
“We’ve always said we’re not selling accounting software,” Mehnert-Meland said. “One thing I’ve always personally felt is the ISV is left out. You have to go beyond the tools: What are we going to do once [customers] have the product?”
These components were designed to seamlessly integrate as a financial management portfolio to complement SAP’s CPA Advisor Program.
Under that program, SAP and its partners can recruit and support CPAs who then advise small-business clients about Business One, according to SAP.
Among the ISVs and applications in the financial-app portfolio are Altec, which developed Doc-link, an integrated document-management system, and FXport, which unveiled a currency risk-management solution called FXportADVISOR.
Information Systems Group, which also is an SAP Business One reseller, created Project Accounting Suite for Business One, which provides real-time financial reporting on profitability and productivity.
Tenrox, which recently joined SAP’s partner ranks, provides Tenrox Release 8, a professional services and workforce automation management solution designed to help small businesses enhance operational control and reduce time and costs.
SAP works closely with about 50 ISVs in North America and 100 globally, recruiting existing and new partners to fill perceived gaps in vertical- or horizontal-market software needs, he said.
Once these programs are completed and certified, SAP helps market the solutions to its reseller business partners and users, said Mehnert-Meland.
“Basically, we go in [to prospective customers] as SAP, ISV, reseller,” he said. “The message is clear to the customer—they’re all in this together. It’s a very hands-on approach. It’s joint partnering. It’s all of us together.”
While its most recent ISV products targeted accounting and financial firms, SAP plans to address other vertical market shows with ISVs, said Mehnert-Meland.
“We’re going into five right now,” he said. “It’s something very specific with industry trade groups, trade associations. It’s a combination of different ISVs and different resellers.”
This hands-on partnering is an invaluable asset for ISVs and solution providers, said Korey Lind, president of Third Wave Business Systems, an Elmwood Park, N.J.-based reselling and development partner.
“It’s huge,” she said. “I don’t know if it could get any bigger.”
When an ISV approaches a prospective reseller or customer, the first questions a customer asks are whether the software integrates well with SAP Business One, and whether the developer really knows how to develop add-on software, Lind said.
“Is this someone who’s been around? Is the product certified?” she said.
In fact, SAP hires a third-party firm to test whether add-on products work as described, to evaluate their integration with Business One, to test the installation process and perform a host of other tests, said Lind.
“They’re really putting the meat behind the program,” she added. “It’s a fairly quick program. It depends on the complexity of the program and the number of integration points.”
To further improve the marketability for ISV products, SAP is working with a small number of “aggregator ISVs” that will be responsible for the round-the-clock technical support most small ISVs are unable to provide, as well as localization of international programs, said Mehnert-Meland.
“What you’ll see us do, more and more, is announce a small number of these ISV aggregators,” he said, declining to name any.
“They’ll work with the reseller to make sure a support call is being taken care of by a larger company. [SAP] is a global company. One of the issues is we may have a great program from an ISV in Israel and we need it in the U.S. Or in Germany or France. These aggregators have the relationship with the ISV in Israel.”
The local aggregator will translate the program and its documentation, as well as ensure it is certified to meet SAP’s requirements, and then provide ongoing technical support, Mehnert-Meland said.
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