“The last couple of years have been tough; margins have been squeezed from many directions,” observes Vince Harwood, president of Harwood Consulting. “To survive, you must be very efficient. And once you find a customer, you must be able to provide them multiple products so you can sell to that client over and over.”
| Harwood Consulting |
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Harwood has found a “typical” BusinessVision account is a small distributor with up to $5 million in annual revenue, and from five to ten employees. “They may have an accounting person [in-house], but they still rely on their accountant for detail work,” he notes. By contrast, a typical AccountMate client has ten or more employees, and yearly revenue in the $5 million to $20 million range. They usually have an accounting staff of two or more, and may have special needs that require enhancements to the AccountMate source code.
“AccountMate deals generally require three times more services to implement than a similar BusinessVision deal,” notes Harwood.
Besides Softline, Harwood Consulting has reseller arrangements with Best Software (Abra for human resources, FAS), Microsoft Business Solutions (Navision Edition), Accpac (Pro Series), TeleMagic (contact management), and Unitime (time and attendance). There are also partnerships with Radio Beacon (warehouse management) and Lahey Manufacturing for Accpac.
The company targets verticals that have the necessary critical mass in its geographic marketplace; these include service businesses, light manufacturers, and small distributors. They are served through offices in Tampa, Miami, and Sanford, Fla. “We choose to be a regional provider and feel confident that there is a lot of this market left for us to sell to,” states Harwood.
He warns, “If you go too vertical, you must expand your region, and that changes your business model.”
Not that Harwood isn’t prepared to seize an opportunity when it emerges. Several years ago, he purchased the assets of a development shop in Tampa that included RadioWorks, a stand-alone product for small radio stations to do their program scheduling and billing. “It was rough when we first got it, but after some extensive repair work, we are proud of it,” he says.
RadioWorks, a 32-bit Windows program, is suited for those involved with scheduling programs and spots, printing and reconciling logs, sending out invoices and affidavits, and posting payments. Harwood notes, “We develop our own applications, and they become our competitive advantage.”
With an installed base that exceeds three hundred businesses, the reseller provides a full range of consulting services that include needs analysis, installation and support, custom program design and management, network and hardware selection, e-commerce, and project management.
Regarding the last, Harwood observes, “All of our projects are project managed; only the degree [to which they are so managed] is the variable.” For example, “A small BusinessVision account is not going to be happy being fully project managed, while a larger AccountMate account expects to be managed throughout the whole process.” In general, however, “The important issue is to break each project into small pieces and focus on getting each piece done.”
Harwood knew he was destined for systems consulting when, prior to founding Harwood Consulting, he served as a controller/IT manager for a petroleum jobber in Tampa. His main duty was getting them onto an automated system, and he quickly found “I enjoyed that process more than being a controller.”