Irish International Sales (IIS), headquartered in Dublin, concentrates on accounting solutions for the SMB market. It also provides service and support in areas such as CRM, networking, and web design. Besides being one of the largest resellers of Take Five accounting software in Ireland, the company purchased Big Red Book in 2001, for which it is now both manufacturer and distributor.
Big Red Book is an accounting solution that caters to entry-level businesses, whereas Take Five caters to mid-tier businesses. A number of IIS’s Take Five customers were “busting at the seams” and needed a larger solution, recalls CEO Marc O’Dwyer: “We were actively pursuing a globally branded product which would complement our existing product portfolio, enhance our company image, challenge our existing resources, and provide solid long-term return on investment.”
As a result, IIS became a channel partner for SAP Business One in January 2003. It chose SAP and Business One because they fit its existing client base, and because SAP Business One represented the next logical step up in skills and expertise for the company. O’Dwyer also felt that IIS would learn from the expertise of one of the world’s largest software companies and benefit from its support. SAP differentiates itself from other ERP vendors, he says, in that “its reputation for proven quality products is impeccable; it is a true global provider.”
IIS has since added five SAP consultants to its staff and made significant investments in areas such as marketing and advertising. In January 2004, IIS was appointed as a distributor of SAP Business One and has appointed three new resellers.
Good for customers, good for employees
Despite the company’s high initial investment, O’Dwyer is confident of a healthy ROI by the end of the year. The partnership has already increased its competitiveness, he says, since IIS can now offer SMB customers a comprehensive range of solutions to meet the increasingly complex needs as their companies evolve.
IIS employees have embraced the SAP partnership with enthusiasm. O’Dwyer calls it the third “big thing” that has boosted the company’s fortunes: The first was the Year 2000, the second was the Euro conversion and the third is SAP Business One. The company now maintains three departments, based on the three main products, but most of the employees want to be part of the SAP action. IIS is working to support internal transfers, where possible, for people with the right skill sets or the right potential.
O’Dwyer sets quarterly targeted objectives for the SAP Business One sales team aimed at increasing their knowledge and professionalism. He says it adds “the gilt edge” to the company’s sales process. The team recognizes the advantages, enjoys the bonus, and responds positively.”
He sees SAP Business One as the logical answer to his customers’ demands for an affordable solution to take their companies to the next level. From a tangible perspective, he expects SAP Business One to provide increased turnover and profits. From a strategic perspective, SAP Business One will support the company’s goal of being recognized as “the best business management solution provider in the SMB space.”
On every shopping list
The stated goal of IIS is to become the largest SAP Business One channel partner in Ireland. O’Dwyer firmly believes that it is now on the shopping list of every Irish firm in the SMB sector when it comes to considering new IT solutions. Since the launch last August, the company has gained eight SAP Business One customer sites spread over a wide range of industry sectors. As it implements projects in a specific industry, IIS plans to actively target that industry.
Though IIS has not yet developed its own SAP Business One solutions, it has implemented SAP Business One at an online hotel reservation company which handles numerous transactions for customers such as Ryanair and Aer Lingus. The project was implemented with minimal disruption to the day-to-day business of the company, and the customer saw immediate time savings from SAP Business One. O’Dwyer says that IIS now has a business solution to suit every level of SMB company and, as a software manufacturer itself, an understanding of the nuts and bolts of software.
So far, so good
Marketing campaigns by SAP have increased awareness among SMBs of SAP Business One as an affordable solution and emphasized that SAP is not too large and too expensive for most SMBs, he adds. The sales support that IIS has received from SAP has also been excellent. He claims that the combination of being able to identify customer requirements instantly and effectively – based on experience – and simultaneously compiling premium reference sites will prove to be a winning recipe.
IIS has no complaints about the training and information it has received from SAP. However, slow response times from SAP technical support have hindered implementations and tainted the “customer experience,” notes O’Dwyer. That said, he is confident that this will be addressed with positive results. “We look forward to a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with SAP. So far, so good,” he says.