After attending the 2006 Microsoft® Worldwide Partner Conference, longtime Sage Accpac partner AccTech Systems joined the Microsoft Partner Program and started to sell Microsoft solutions. This decision opened up new solution areas for AccTech, thus leading to new sales opportunities. The company expects to more than double its annual growth as a result, and its Microsoft business practice is the fastest-growing part of the organization.
Founded in 1994, AccTech Systems set out to provide truly personal customer service in the field of accounting package solutions, including those applying to financial applications, customer relationship management, manufacturing, warehouse management, retail systems, and business intelligence. The company partnered with business management software provider Sage and became one of the world’s largest providers of Sage Accpac software solutions.
When Microsoft acquired Axapta, AccTech took notice. The company examined the new Microsoft Dynamics™ AX offering to see if it made sense to include it in its portfolio of available solutions. “AccTech uses Microsoft® productivity and development tools, and our customer base uses Microsoft products in areas of their business. With this in mind, we realized that Microsoft Dynamics would be a good fit for us, for our competent delivery methodology, and for our customers,” says Tertius Zitzke, Managing Director of AccTech Systems.
What appealed to AccTech was the technology behind Microsoft products, with its out-of-the-box integration, functionality, and flexibility. “The Microsoft People Ready Business focus fits in perfectly with our longstanding dedication to delivering integrated, user-friendly solutions,” says Nick Botha, Marketing Manager for AccTech Systems.
In July 2006, Zitzke attended the 2006 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference and was impressed. “Not only did I learn about the advantages of Microsoft Dynamics AX, but I also realized how much more we could offer our customers beyond Microsoft Dynamics AX,” recalls Zitzke. “I delved into Microsoft collaboration and project management solutions, and a new world opened up. I immediately put a plan in place to get all those business tools out there to our customers.”
||… We normally achieve 40 percent year-over-year growth, but with our new status as a Microsoft partner, we’re anticipating 85-percent revenue growth in fiscal year 2008.
Managing Director, AccTech Systems
By August 2006, AccTech had joined the Microsoft Partner Program and, within just six weeks, the new partner achieved Gold Certified Partner status. “We already had the necessary competencies, so it was just a matter of choosing references from our customer base,” says Aldo van Tonder, Director of Microsoft Solutions for AccTech Systems. “We could have begun selling Microsoft solutions without becoming a partner, but we recognized the numerous benefits that come along with partnership.”
AccTech began its foray into selling Microsoft products by helping its existing customers get more value from their licensing agreements. “Many of our customers have Enterprise Agreements with Microsoft but aren’t really taking advantage of them,” says van Tonder. “We’re helping them make better use of the products that they already own, which is a great way to both provide value to customers and gain an entry point for us to discuss other opportunities.”
For example, AccTech works with one of the largest mining groups in the world and recently met to discuss the group’s existing Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. “The customer’s decision makers didn’t know that they already owned licenses for software such as Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007, Microsoft Office Project Server 2007, and so on. As soon as we brought up the subject, they wanted to know what they could do with products like those,” says van Tonder. “Now we are implementing products such as these for many customers.”
AccTech is significantly increasing its Microsoft-related business practice due to customer demand. The Microsoft Partner Program has provided valuable help along the way, from in-depth technical information and complimentary software for internal use to marketing assistance and exposure to new customer opportunities. “As a Microsoft partner, we feel as though we can give our customers more value for and return on their investments,” says Zitzke.
- Increased revenue and opportunity for growth. In the nine months since it became a Microsoft partner, AccTech has hired 11 additional staff members and has gained U.S.$700,000 in revenue. “We currently have a sales pipeline of $7.5 million that we did not have before and a growing market share through new customers who are interested in Microsoft solutions,” notes Zitzke. “Also, we normally achieve 40 percent year-over-year growth, but with our new status as a Microsoft partner, we’re anticipating 85-percent revenue growth in fiscal year 2008.”
- Improved visibility to customers and partners. Through the Microsoft Partner Program, AccTech has been exposed to the vast Microsoft partner ecosystem, and the company already has formed relationships with other partners to help support various implementations. “Events such as the Worldwide Partner Conference make a tremendous difference to us because they improve relationships,” says Zitzke. “In fact, if it hadn’t been for the conference in 2006, we probably would never have joined the program and wouldn’t be poised to expand our business to such an extent today.”
- Greater access to information. “The Microsoft Partner Program gives us an edge, especially on new sales opportunities, in part by providing us with excellent, accurate information related to sales, technology, and vertical markets,” says Botha.
AccTech is enjoying its new insight into the Microsoft product road map and plans to use that knowledge to influence its future plans. In fact, AccTech expects that, over time, its Microsoft-related practice might become the primary focus for the business. “Many of our customers may decide to migrate to [Microsoft] Dynamics AX solutions due to the integration with Office SharePoint Server 2007, [Office] Outlook® messaging and collaboration client, and numerous other Microsoft products. AccTech is fully able to help our customers make the transition,” says van Tonder.