An FAQ for Buyers & Users of Accounting Software
In today’s era of self-service and price-priority shopping, many software purchasers are trying their hand at buying and installing their organization’s software almost as a DIY project. You invest in a new software but pay lower service fees to have someone “coach” you into getting it up and running by yourself, rather than going through a lengthy and expensive implementation process. Indeed, some software, especially apps online, are just a few clicks away from installation and use. For those smaller purchases, this Do-It-Yourself approach may be a great way to save precious budget.
But when it comes time to purchase, install, and implement more complex software, like ERP and accounting solutions, you need to beware the old saying, “penny wise and pound (£) foolish.” A best practice for these bigger projects is to invest in the professional services of a Value Added Reseller (VAR) to ensure your own success.
What is a VAR?
A Value Added Reseller is a person or business that specializes in offering your organization extended services beyond software selection and installation. Although software sales are still a key VAR feature, your engagement with a VAR brings more focus on you and your team’s satisfaction and organization-wide buy in for the new solution.
So, a VAR is the guy who wants to push product at me, right?
Not really. Beyond software sales, VAR services can include implementation consulting and training, support, and a long term resource available to help you keep your operations moving with peak efficiency.
As Jeff Budiac, Managing Partner at Software Connect, a software recommending site, recently said, “Although some VARs may have a narrow lens in solution offerings, a good, reputable VAR should ultimately have an end user’s best interest at heart. Long term, it’s in neither party’s best interest to implement a solution that’s not a good fit. Further, VARs often have a diverse product tool belt, allowing them to provide a variety of software options given an end user’s unique needs.” Software Connect offers buyers information on multiple software packages and software vendors at no cost. They interview buyers and match software requirements to multiple vendors so that the buyer saves time and money in looking only at the best qualified fit for their organizations.
Infinitek Software has been in the VAR business for 30+ years. Terri Paetz, Director of Business Development and Customer Support said, “We have an Implementation White Glove Process. With our expert staff we handle not only the Implementation, but do so in a very exact customer engagement process.”
What other kinds of extended services do VARs offer?
VARs may add extra features or integrate different software products to come up with the best software solution for your unique situation. Also, beyond implementation services and software sales, different VARs will have unique skills and services they can offer you.
For Example, Catapult ERP, a Vancouver-based Microsoft Dynamics VAR, focuses on post-implementation services to ensure your confidence both in your product and your skills remain high. Catapult’s CEO, Elliot Fishman said, “Catapult delivers unprecedented support to our customers after they go live. Typically, organizations implementing ERP solutions focus on the implementation project itself and most VARs specialize in this critical upfront piece. Our experience has shown that midsized organizations face unique challenges in the months immediately following go live and ongoing as their needs and understanding of the system evolves. Whether it is troubleshooting the unexpected, supporting end-users with refresher and on-the-spot training, making minor configuration changes, building reports, integrations and enhancements, Catapult offers customers support through a professionally staffed support desk, using structured assessment and governance to ensure that issues are addressed quickly and efficiently so that customers can get back to business. All of our support engagements are backed by clear service-level-agreements and transparent pricing and fees.”
Another Canadian partner, Qixas, offers a different, but equally valuable set of services: “We offer business Process Review services utilizing UML (Unified Modeling Language) tools to capture workflow details for all client processes. During this data gathering time, we creatively think about the solution that will be required to meet the client’s business workflows.” Said Steve Aho, Vice President of Sales for the Toronto area company. “We also have Microsoft Certified Trainer led Academy Bootcamps for our software offerings, including NAV and CRM.”
Why is buying and implementing mid-market accounting software so complex compared to a Quickbooks solution?
The more you invest in your accounting software, the more you can and should expect it will give you in power. This doesn’t mean it will be even simpler to use than low-end packages, but more likely you’ll experience better audit capabilities, better information access, and stronger security of your data. Most mid-market solutions will be GAAP compliant, but you should always ask your vendor or VAR about it with any software you’re considering.
On top of that, several broad-based solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly Dynamics NAV or Navision) offer industry specialized solutions through dedicated publishers known as Industry Solution Vendors (ISVs). Tangicloud is one of these publishers, as we have taken Business Central and embedded the more detailed fund accounting, budget control and expense management functionality that is needed by governments and nonprofits.
VARs with a vertical focus have in depth industry knowledge to help find ways to make your new software work better for you. Qixas’ Steve Aho said, “NAV partners that came up through the system want to give the client everything requested. Who wouldn’t? And VARs like us can often customize a solution to fit better. This work appears complicated to the client.” With a non-ISV, Quickbooks kind of solution, there isn’t that flexibility.
Elliot Fishman added to the thought process:
“The sheer number of choices available to customers can be mind boggling. Combined with that, the technology itself is changing with the shift to cloud and new licensing models. Also, it used to make sense for customers to choose a platform and customize it extensively to meet their needs. For Catapult, this is not so much the case any longer. Customization is expensive and difficult to maintain over the long term. Modern platforms can support most processes through configuration so customers need to put care into choosing a vendor that offers native capabilities that align to their business and vision. Customers should also look for solutions that embed best-practices into their design, and look to evolve their processes to harness these capabilities.” You can hear more about how Catapult defines the evolving role of today’s VAR on a podcast by MSDynamics World.
And Terri Paetz said, “Throughout the implementation process we ask questions of the customer and Blueprint a process to exactly match the customer’s business rules. We also provide a Gap Analysis of areas they may need in order to enhance their Business rules going forward.”
How can I find a great VAR to work with?
There is no one right way to find the VAR that’s going to work best for you. This is a personal choice, but Software Connect’s Jeff Budiac shared some thoughts. “Experience and references are often key in identifying a good fit with specific VARs. Ultimately, end users are entering into a business relationship and two providers of the same solution can have very different backgrounds and strengths. Hearing directly from clients who are similar to yours, both in terms of industry and function, can help ensure a successful partnership.”
What if I don’t have a connection to a VAR in place?
Don’t feel alone in this situation. You can ask colleagues in your industry and will often gather great insight there. There are also basic web searches, or you can contact the ISV or software publisher who will either help you directly or share contact information between you and a reliable VAR in your area.
And, of course, you can look at review sites on line, like Capterra and Software Connect.
“At SoftwareConnect.com, we don’t personally develop, sell, implement or support any software products ourselves. Rather, we act as a free to search, unbiased software matching service, identifying the absolute best options available on the market for an end users unique needs,” said Jeff Budiac.
If you are a Microsoft certified partner interested in helping nonprofits and governments select, purchase and implement new accounting software, please contact Tangicloud for more information or check out our market evaluation form: