Manchester-based newcomer Interprise Solutions is threatening to shake up the established “rat pack” that controls the market for mid-range accountancy software. John Stokdyk reports.
Interprise offers a complete integrated business software suite that sets it apart from the traditional mid-market accounting packages that have had commercial bits and pieces glued on top of them, according founder Tony Parsonage.
Parsonage said the Interprise Suite was a lifeline for both small business users and software resellers. Both communities, he argued, are currently languishing as traditional suppliers such as Sage, Pegasus and SAP fail to deliver new products that customers are calling for.
As a former Sage reseller himself, Parsonage brings a real bite to his marketing, based on first-hand experience that convinced him there was a gap in the market. “I know how they feel because I was in their position before selling up and setting up Interprise,” he said.
“I blame the vendors for the lack of growth in today’s marketplace as their lack of vision, innovation and hunger has impacted heavily on dealers’ fortunes in recent times. They cannot simply sell more product to small businesses, which means they cannot benefit from add-on service and support business. There has been nothing new and compelling to sell to make it worth anyone’s while.”
Interprise is a joint effort between Parsonage and US-based co-founder Gary Harrison, who got together to come up with the spec for the software suite, which is developed by a team based in the Phillipines. The product are being marketed in the US and Australia as well as the UK, where 20 of the company’s 100 users are based.
In addition to accounts, the Interprise Suite includes reporting and business intelligence (BI) modules, customer relationship management (CRM) and ERP facilities including order processing, stock/warehouse management, and an optional webshop. The system is based on Microsoft’s SQL Server database and uses “smart client” technology so that it can be operated across wide area networks and the internet without the need for additional networking infrastructure such as Citrix.
According to Interprise salesman Karl Jones, a lot of work has gone into refining the product to do things that are not available from rival systems – including real-time foreign currency and stock revaluations.
“Rather than bundling different modules together to give the impression they are integrated, Interprise is one product,” Jones said. “For example, a target list can be created in CRM based on sales accounts data – if a customer bought product A and we want to sell the product B, our software can generate the list as standard.”
The product is priced to exploit what Interprise calls the “inbetweener” market, where users have outgrown systems such as Sage Line 50, but are not willing to pay the £10,000+ prices for systems such as Sage 200 or Pegasus Opera.
“Sage and the others have been accounts vendors, not business systems vendors,” said Jones. “They acquired products over time and never really developed them. These companies suggest that people should change their software every 5-10 years, but there are a lot of Sage Line 100 users who have never done so, because they’ve built their own add-ons to the system. They see that an upgrade will involve money and upheaval, but what do they get for it?
“Our product is cheaper and has a lot more in it. Where the existing mid-market accounting applications are ‘sunset’ systems, we sat down with a clean sheet of paper and worked out a product that the market needs.”
The Interprise Suite is free for a single-user system and currently costs £1,500 for a five-user licence. When a new pricing structure is introduced in October, a 10-user system with all the reseller services added in, will cost around £10,000 Jones said.
A free software developer’s kit is alo available for companies and resellers that want to add their own enhancements to the suite.