For Rick Kidder, CPA and principal partner with Marshall + Poe, the key to getting ahead in business is getting along, with customers and vendors.
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The reseller put in a strong revenue performance last year, and Kidder knows why. “The biggest factor was the level of partnership that we developed with Epicor’s direct sales team,” he says. He’s well aware that “Typically, where a software developer has a direct team, the relationship with the VAR is competitive. However, our experience in 2002 has shown that Epicor ‘gets it.’”
| Marshall + Poe |
“They understand that what we can do together is remarkable, and they invested themselves deeply in partnering with us in the sales process,” reports Kidder. As a result of this collaboration, the Epicor sales team not only has “flipped” leads to the reseller, but “they have actually called us in on some opportunities that they are working directly.”
That’s hardly surprising, since Marshall + Poe positions itself as a “full-service” VAR, understanding its clients’ information systems as well as the environments they run in. “We have immersed ourselves in hardware, operating systems, and networking technologies,” says Kidder.
The company is a Microsoft Solution Provider with multiple MCSEs on staff in its three Midwest offices in Elkhart, Indianapolis, and Chicago. Services include design, architecture, planning, implementation, support, and custom development within product offerings that include Epicor, as well as Best Software’s Platinum for Windows (purchased from Epicor), Abra, and BatchMaster.
Marshall + Poe used to offer traditional attest and tax functions, but found that by the late ‘90s, its mix of services was increasingly swinging toward IT solutions. In 2000, it formed an alliance with Indiana’s Kruggel, Lawton for the latter to assume responsibility for tax and accounting services.
The reseller prides itself on a commitment to methodology. “We are more than problem solvers,” says Kidder. “We have worked to effectively manage the implementation process so as to instill confidence in our clients throughout the process. Communication is key.”
Through weekly “synchronization calls” and secured project management Web sites using Microsoft’s SharePoint Team Services technology, the reseller can demonstrate to customers “that we are on top of the project,” according to Kidder. “Where challenges emerge, we catch them early, agree on an approach, execute, and then move on.”
A standard implementation includes these eleven phases: planning, boardroom pilot/consulting, installation and configuration, initial data conversion, modeling and certification, training, implementation assistance, pilot run, final data conversion, cutover/initial live state report, and project management (throughout).
A “typical” installation these days is 25 to 50 users. “The applications we deal with have a degree of Web deployment; however, they are primarily still client/server,” notes Kidder. But as Epicor proceeds to deploy its application suite with .Net, “this will change,” he predicts.
He credits the Epicor line for its “breadth and versatility.” He explains, “We have been able to establish a presence in multiple vertical markets, such as not-for-profit and professional services, by offering them fully-integrated, end-to-end solutions.” Kidder adds, “Having vertical specialties has made our firm.”
He recalls that the company embraced manufacturing as a vertical “in our early history,” and today the company has substantial practices in both process manufacturing with BatchMaster as well as job shop production. The VAR recently signed on to handle Epicor’s Vantage and Vista manufacturing packages.
“Having background and experience in a few particular industries increases the value we can bring to a client both in terms of knowledge of processes and best practices,” contends Kidder, who joined the reseller in 1987.
Epicor’s North American VAR of the Year for 2002, Marshall + Poe has distinguished itself with front office/back office implementations employing the vendor’s Clientele customer relationship management package. “Our success with Clientele is that we can address virtually any business issue where the customer needs to relate people, groups, organizations, activities, and tasks,” says Kidder. Accordingly, the VAR has developed Clientele-based applications that address time and billing, property maintenance, aviation services and pilot training, and donor development/contribution processing.