Third Wave Business Systems, based in New Jersey, implements business management systems for the SMB market, with a geographical focus on the New York metropolitan area. The company became an SAP partner in February 2003, during the early stages of SAP’s roll-out of SAP Business One in North America.
Third Wave has been a Microsoft partner for much of its ten-year history but felt that an additional product was needed to increase its range of opportunities. This new product needed to be different from Microsoft’s to avoid “putting all our eggs in one basket,” notes Third Wave president Korey Lind.
She calls the choice of SAP Business One a “no brainer” following a product demonstration organized by SAP. Those present at the demonstration – all of whom had long careers in enterprise applications – were amazed at the product’s capabilities, she recalls. “We kept looking at each other and asking, ‘Did it really just do that, can it be so easy?’ The presentation took place on Thursday, and we committed on Monday.”
Easy to use, easy to customize
Lind says that SAP Business One is a very different product from any other available on the market – and that clients see it the same way. While the SAP name and image are important in their acceptance, she notes, the product itself is a great fit for the SMB market because it is quick and easy to implement and also cost-effective. SAP Business One’s built-in functionality can be an important element in winning a deal: The built-in CRM functionality, for instance, has been a real hit with clients, she says.
Customization to the specific needs of SMB clients is straightforward, and customizations made in one release migrate to the next, offering consistency and eliminating the need to redo custom work, he explains. This is important because the SMB market often has unique requirements but not the financial strength to pay for extensive customization. This can result in manually transferring data between applications and similar ineffective approaches.
Third Wave clinched four SAP Business One deals in its first eight months as an SAP partner. Lind explains that bringing SAP Business One into the company portfolio has helped it bid successfully for deals it would otherwise have been unable to target. In addition, the product allows the firm to make better use of a consultative selling model – something she sees as one of its key strengths.
Though the company has come across the perception that SAP products are only for large enterprises, convincing prospective clients of the merits of SAP Business One has not proved difficult. Lind says: “When we explain that this is not a derivative of mySAP or All-in-One, but has been built from the ground up for the SMB market, they get it – it doesn’t take much.”
Interestingly, many SMBs are enthusiastic about gaining the potential bragging rights associated with SAP – some SMB clients look forward to telling their friends that “my company runs SAP,” notes Lind.
Built-in functionality and flexibility
One Third Wave client, a company in the bulk mailing business, went live with SAP Business One on time and on budget, but Lind indicates that the built-in functionality and flexibility were the real hooks that brought in the deal. For a bulk mailing company, the built-in workflow was impressive, since competing solutions did not include it. And the built-in CRM functionality, which enables the customer to do activity tracking, was a vital issue, which the client said would “change the entire business paradigm.”
Lind sees a huge potential for SAP Business One in the New York metropolitan area, and Third Wave is aiming to add one new deal per month. The company is working to get the staff up to speed on the SAP Business One concept and hiring new staff to meet the expected demand.
SAP has been very supportive with training, says Lind. In the first 90 days of the partnership, SAP offered Third Wave free training for as many people as it wanted to send to the courses. Support in general has been very good, he adds. SAP has helped with product demonstrations, in supporting the sales process, and in implementation. In marketing, SAP has helped set up seminars and marketing events aimed at generating qualified leads and positioning Third Wave with the correct market messages. SAP even proactively pushes Third Wave to undertake new marketing initiatives.
Summing up, Lind notes, “Third Wave has spent ten years in the VAR community building strong working relationships with vendors and clients in the SMB space. SAP knew we had an established, regional presence on this market which made us a good match for the SAP Business One channel. We are pleased to have been one of the first partners selected.”