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ERP systems were not designed with solution providers in mind. Either they’re too simple or too linear in design to accommodate the unique workflow of their sales process. Not so with a solution from VBS Software.

The company’s ERP software, aptly titled VBS version 5, was designed specifically for solution providers to address what could be called an upside-down sales process–at least by traditional ERP standards.


“The whole notion of selling something before you buy it (and have it in inventory) is beyond most ERP systems,” said Eileen Gibson, vice president of marketing at VBS. “Plus, most ERP systems don’t give VARs visibility into the profit drivers in their business. They have lack of information to make good strategic decisions.”


The latest version of VBS incorporates a Web-based interface, allowing for better access to information on any transaction at any stage of the process, from quote to invoice. Plus, the application allows solution providers to see every rebate, special program or funds available for each transaction, enabling deal-level profitability.


“When their business gets to a certain size, VARs take one of two paths–they build[an ERP system] from scratch, or they cobble together something to create a semi-custom solution,” Gibson said. “This was designed with them in mind, so they don’t have to do that and still get the visibility, flexibility and functionality they need.”


The new version also links to distributor sites, allowing for one-touch order management–a feature Ed Jensen, owner of ACS Networks in DesMoines, Iowa, finds especially useful.


“Now we have an application that starts at the quote and handles the service order, purchase order, and then go into accounting,” he said. “It has increased our productivity dramatically. And our sales administration has gone up significantly; we’re able to generate a much larger number of quotes. And because Avnet and VBS have a relationship, we can do electronic B2B transactions — the minute something ships from Avnet to us, the serial numbers come in to us and we can invoice the customer right away.”


VBS president Steve Tepedino said the solution enables solution provider to see things that are most important to their business and giving them the intelligence they need to make crucial business decisions.


“The IT solution provider has unique needs, and VBS meets those needs like no other application on the market,” Tepedino said. “VBS provides business intelligence for growth, extreme efficiencies in operations, improved cash flow and a level of data granularity that ensures all available profit dollars from rebates and programs can be captured. It is the ultimate platform for scaling a reseller business.” 


Tepedino and Gibson are channel veterans, having previously held management and marketing postions at Avnet. They are also the principals of ChannelSavvy, a channel training and marketing firm.