by Richard McCausland
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During his 15 years employed as a Florida CPA, Manny Buigas recalls, "I found that many of my accounting clients hired 'system consultants'to help select their mission-critical software. However, although they were technically competent in the technology arena, they lacked sufficient understanding about accounting and business flow."
So Buigas jumped into the breach and became a consultant himself. Together with partner George Doris, Jr., he founded Strategic Accounting Technologies in 1995, which has since evolved into Miami-based NextLevel Information Solutions. Doris is president, while Buigas oversees sales and marketing, and has spearheaded the company’s expansion into Latin America and the Caribbean.
NextLevel is a staunch Accpac-only house, which Buigas attributes to the vendor’s being able "to deliver the best value proposition to its customers." He points out the software can support a variety of back-end databases; can run over the Internet via a browser; and continues to extend with customer relationship management, human resources, warehouse management, and e-commerce offerings. "It also offers a wide selection of third-party products that meet many industry-specific needs," says Buigas.
Formed from the merger last year with New York-based Diamond Consulting Group, a 15-year Accpac reselling veteran, NextLevel now serves clients throughout the East Coast, Louisiana, Florida, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Total head count stands at 24, with five offices generating annual revenue of approximately $3 million.
The firm primarily serves "mid-sized enterprise" businesses, with revenues ranging from $10 million to $70 million. "We also support quite a few smaller clients, since the Accpac line is so scalable," notes Buigas.
Whereas a "typical" installation only three or four years ago would involve the back-office accounting, inventory management, order processing, and "maybe" payroll, "today’s clients are much more interested in integrating their entire business operations and workflow," according to Buigas.
"More than half of our prospects find us while looking for a specific solution to a non-core accounting issue," says Buigas. "Most recently, this need has centered on Web support, as more and more businesses realize the relevance of leveraging the Internet." Other hot-button solutions that have cinched a deal include Electronic Data Interchange, automated manufacturing, time and billing, project management, and HR.
A typical install for a user looking to migrate to a ten-user Advantage Series Enterprise Edition starts at approximately $20,000 to $25,000 in software cost for core accounting modules (GL, AP, AR), Order Entry, Inventory, and Payroll. Implementation and training charges can range anywhere from 50 to 150 percent of the software cost depending on the degree of workflow analyses provided, including screen and report customization as well as Internet connectivity if needed.
A Broader Portfolio
Continuing to expand, NextLevel recently purchased Strategic Business Technologies, an Accpac Pro reseller also based in Miami. The Pro series is new to the portfolio. "We are committed to supporting the entire Accpac product line," stresses Buigas. Already, the acquisition has made a positive impact. "We are just starting an engagement [encompassing sites] in Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala with the Pro product line," he reports.
Buigas notes that Accpac Pro Series can now run on the Linux platform. "Linux is a strong operating system alternative that’s building a fiercely loyal following," he comments. Already, there has been an implementation out of Louisiana where the back-end database runs on Linux.
Buigas is keen on having a corporate Web site (www.nextlevelis.com) "Our entrance in the Caribbean market was mainly due to our presence on the Internet," he says. Buigas explains, "Many of our Caribbean clients search the Internet for consultants located in Miami" because there was no local Accpac reseller or qualified installer. It helps, of course, that NextLevel has bilingual consultants on staff--as well as several CPAs--to provide training and implementation services throughout Central and South America.
Richard McCausland is Senior Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at email@example.com