ACCPAC Shifts Focus to Midmarket CRM
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ACCPAC International, a vendor known for selling accounting software that helps companies manage payroll, accounts receivable and general ledgers, wants to extend its business offerings and enter a new industry: CRM.

The 22-year-old Pleasanton, Calif. division of Computer Associates says its clients' needs have changed in the last couple years. Companies need more than just accounting software: They're asking for a host of solutions, such as contact management and e-mail management software, and they're telling ACCPAC that they want to go to through one vendor. ACCPAC will reorganize to accommodate the new demands by branding itself as a CRM company that caters to the midmarket. The company launched its debut offerings--eCRM and Warehouse Management, last spring.

Although the company will continue to sell business management systems, ACCPAC's focus will shift to eCRM and the Warehouse Management system. eCRM offers an integrated sales force automation, marketing automation and customer care solution. The technology is Internet and WAP-enabled and integrates with clients' existing ACCPAC Advantage Series accounting software. The Warehouse Management System offers automation for handling the inventory process by providing order management, and includes features such as receiving, stocking and replenishment management components.

The Sales Force Automation piece of eCRM includes account and activity management, sales cycle management, graphical analysis, reporting and WAP components, as well as a server that allows employees to work offline. Customer Care offers a contact management piece, which provides call history, as well as manages contacts, e-mails and support cases and targets sales opportunities. Customer Care also includes a repository for files, as well as a time management piece that provides an interactive calendar. Finally, Marketing Automation offers evaluation tools and a campaign management piece that assigns, schedules and tracks all marketing activities.

Craig Downing, vice president of production management at ACCPAC, says this shift to CRM has been in the making for a couple of years, and the midmarket will serve as ACCPAC's new target. "We're no longer an accounting software company. Now we're more of a soup-to-nuts of business management solutions to companies."

Katherine Jones, managing director of enterprise applications at Aberdeen, says ACCPAC's eCRM should appeal to the midmarket because the solution integrates into existing ACCPAC accounting offerings, saving companies time and money. She sees the benefit of the browser-based solution's ability to integrate into wireless applications. "It lightens the load for customer support from the sales end," Jones says. "You don't need to carry a PC. It doesn't tether them [sales staff] to the office."

Jones says CRM vendors for the most part have ignored the midmarket until recently. ACCPAC's entrance will make a difference, she says. "I see it as a logical extension. I don't see it as a car driving down the highway and exiting in a different direction," Jones says. "It acknowledges that the midmarket businesses and small businesses have the same needs that big businesses do."

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