For companies looking for Paris Technologies, the road leads to Doylestown, Pa., in prosperous central Bucks County in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
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For Paris Technololgies, whose name is an acronym for Planning, Analysis, Reporting Information Systems, the road to success leads through its Value-added Resellers. With the release of PowerOLAP Version 4.0, the company hopes to increase its access to the mid-market by increasing its reseller base.
"We have already signed up three resellers just because of the new edition and made six sales," notes president and founder David Presti, who is looking for resellers who understand their clients’ business processes and needs, including performance analysis, statistical forecasting, budgeting, and reporting requirements. The company has 125 resellers, many of which are CPA firms with technology practices or firms experienced in implementing accounting systems. Within the next year, Presti hopes to expand the channel to about 300 VARs.
"Offering PowerOLAP helps them continue to grow," he says. Taking on the product gives resellers a market differentiator, because while few companies are looking for new accounting systems, "every one of these customers uses Excel in mission-critical applications," he continues. Resellers can use PowerOLAP to solve planning, analysis, and reporting problems, and be positioned to sell other applications."
The Paris channel features some high-powered resellers including Omnios, ePartners, and SVA Consulting, many of which sell the Great Plains Solomon line as well. PowerOLAP was launched at a Solomon conference, and Paris has also worked closely with the International Consulting Network, whose members are largely Solomon VARs.
For the uninitiated, OLAP stands for Online Analytical Processing, a technology that lets a database handle multiple dimensions, which can be accessed via a spreadsheet interface. A customizable OLAP tool, PowerOLAP has 15,000 users at 800 client sites.
OLAP proponents say the technology’s capabilities make it ideal for companies that must manipulate many different kinds of information.
"Relational databases are not good at taking information and aggregating it. For example, a company wants to see how much of a product it sold to a certain type of customer on a certain month during the year," says Presti. "PowerOLAP will take the information and help the company find the pattern in all the data, which they wouldn’t have been able to see with just the numbers."
At the same time, says Presti, PowerOLAP is easier to implement than most accounting systems, and requires few additional skills. Because the system solves business problems, it makes CPAs, with their strong Excel skills, good channel candidates.
Beyond that, the OLAP capabilities should come in handy in the days of Sarbanes-Oxley and stiffer requirements for financial controls. The environment "will require business to have improved financial management systems to allow collaboration," says Presti. "PowerOLAP has the ability to do that."
The first version of PowerOLAP was released in 1999. "Essentially we took our knowledge of implementations and made a new tool that would allow the middle market to take advantage of it," says Presti. The product was originally designed for Fortune 1000 companies. But Paris decided it wanted to sell to a larger market. "The mid-market in the U.S. alone has more than 250,000 companies," comments Presti, adding, "You do the math."
The company has had a reseller program since 1999. "Our mind-set has always been to sell through our partners. The only way to make the product successful in the mid-market is through resellers," says Presti. Because of its financial analysis capabilities, PowerOlap is well-suited to the mid-market accounting software channel. Margins range from 30 to 55 percent, similar to those on accounting software products, but the company does not charge an authorization or renewal fee.
It’s a successful formula, says Dan Schwartz, president of Stamford, Conn.-based NexVue Information Systems, a Great Plains and top Solomon reseller. Schwartz says, "PowerOLAP is the only software we resell that makes CFOs sit up in their seats. It allows us to put all of our clients’ information into one system and they don’t need a high-level expertise to understand it."
NexVue performs about fifteen PowerOLAP implementations per year and uses the software as a sales analysis, financial reporting, consolidating, and budgeting tool. For example, NexVue implemented a sales analysis tool for New York City-based Bumble and Bumble hair care products. The company wanted to know what products were selling, where, to which customers, and the impact of their product offerings. PowerOLAP was able to read the accounting data from Solomon, combined with data from the CRM package and make it work for the sales department. The software cost $25,000 and the implementation cost $25,000; it took NexVue about four to six weeks to implement.
PowerOlap comes in two version, the Enterprise Edition, priced at $3,000 per user, and the Professional Suite, now available with version 4.0 at $1,000 per user. The Professional edition is sold on a named user basis while the Enterprise user pricing is based on concurrent users.
The Enterprise Edition has links to Analysis Services, a Microsoft product line that also has OLAP capabilities. The Professional Suite has a limit of eight dimensions per OLAP cube, while the Enterprise Edition has no limits. (Cubes are the prepackaged calculation sets that enable the software to manipulate a large number of dimensions.)
Step by Step
Paris has a 30/60/90-day Launch Plan for the reseller channel, designed to prepare resellers to quickly develop their internal capabilities and to ramp up sales.
The company supports the plans to assure rapid deployment of PowerOLAP. Day one through thirty includes five steps that potential resellers must take in order to become a PowerPartner.
Step 1: A Paris representative calls the potential reseller to ascertain both background information on the VAR and its objectives. That includes determining opportunities for PowerOLAP in individual markets and the steps the reseller plans to take for aggressive market entry.
Step 2: Resellers must designate staff members to become the PowerOLAP sales and technical "champions." These individuals will be the reseller’s internal promoters of PowerOLAP sales and product trainers.
Step 3: Two qualified people on the reseller’s staff, a sales person and a technical employee, must complete a five-day training course. For resellers who want to deliver consulting services, the champions must attend an additional two to four weeks of training. They become certified consultants, able to implement PowerOLAP independently. Courses are offered each month at Paris’ facilities and cost $1,195.
Step 4: Paris sets up a two-hour Quick-Start sales seminar at the reseller’s office. The resellers use the "seminar-in-a-box" to recruit and gather 20 or more of their current customers, companies that need help with their budgeting, forecasting, analysis, and reporting requirements.
Step 5: With everything complete, resellers approve the agreement.
During days 31 through 60, resellers must close and install their first sale. Paris’s technical staff will accompany the reseller on their first multi-user implementation. "The reason we go on the first implementation is to help build the reseller’s confidence, and assist them with problems that might arise in real world situations," explains Presti. "It makes things faster, and more successful."
In addition to closing the first sale, resellers must schedule a Spreadsheet Productivity workshop. Paris also coaches them about territory planning and management.
Finally, in the Day 61 to 90 segment of the plan, resellers close PowerOLAP sales, and schedule additional staff to attend technical training courses as needed. Also, consulting and implementation support will be continued as needed. Furthermore, resellers receive leads generated by Paris’s own product marketing efforts, including inquiries into Paris’s Web site.
Carly Lombardo is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at email@example.com.