From the Dec. 2006 Issue
By Isaac M. O’Bannon
How do the nation’s leading IT consultants to small businesses feel about
the products they help businesses use? These are the professionals who recommend,
resell, train and help implement accounting systems, as well as many other business
process applications, to the mid-sized and small business market. And since
they work hand-in-hand with the users of the programs, vendors often pay close
attention to what they think about the technology and the partner programs the
vendors provide to assist them.
The CPA Technology Advisor recently partnered with the Information
Technology Alliance (ITA) to survey the group’s membership on their interaction
with software developers and vendor programs geared toward the professional
accounting market. ITA is an independent professional association of leading
IT consulting firms whose purpose is to share information and build relationships
that improve the way its member firms, and their clients, do business.
“ITA offers business consultants and VARs excellent resources, especially
through networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities at the organization’s
semiannual conferences,” said Ron Eagle, ITA’s president. “One
of the unique aspects of the ITA is that all members are the principals of their
own businesses, not just technical support staff, so the opportunities at our
conferences center around the business side of being a reseller or consultancy.
We focus on things like marketplace positioning, branding, strategic alliances,
M&As, recruiting strategies, compensation guidelines, sales management processes,
initiatives in product management and quality assurance, and some focus on benchmarking
and business planning and budgeting.”
The online survey was conducted during October and November 2006, seeking
the input of these professionals as to the competitive advantages and disadvantages
of high-end accounting systems, as well as potential areas for future product
development that the ITA members think would benefit users of the software.
The survey also questioned the professionals about their experience with the
partner programs of the vendors of general accounting, construction/contractor,
and not-for-profit accounting systems.
Key among the survey’s findings is that 86 percent of the
survey respondents state that their business partners with or receives referrals
from traditional accounting/CPA practices. Most of these professionals also
noted that the most important factor when it comes to a vendor’s partner
program is the product’s customization capabilities.
ability to tailor a system to the specific needs of a core vertical market or
general business type is often cited as integral for VARs/recommenders, especially
those with niche specialties. Next most important to the survey participants
was enhanced revenue streams for growth opportunities, followed by the technical
training and support options provided by the vendor, and finally, the availability
of easy-to-leverage sales and marketing materials.
Some of the other findings from the survey are presented in the charts on
this page. Also note the review of High-End
Accounting products in this issue, where ITA member feedback is provided
with the respective reviews.
Mr. O’Bannon is the technology editor for The CPA Technology Advisor.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.