This is the Year of the Partner at Icode.
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by Carly Lombardo
The Chantilly, Va.-based software company realized its direct model wasn’t working—it needed local partners to represent its ERP solution for the SMB market.
“Without partners, we couldn’t get to the next level—not to mention that the price point of the software requires us to be face-to-face with our customers,” says Robert Skinner, vice president of worldwide sales.
HQ: Chantilly, Va.
The company launched its reseller channel, the ICE Network, in February. It has recruited 31 VARs since then and plans on tripling that number by year-end.
Channel programs fall into two major categories: the Icode Certified ERP Solution Providers (VARs) and the individuals who can become Icode Certified Professionals. Within this latter category fall the ICERs (representatives) and ICEEs (engineers). VARs are required to have at least one employee certified in the ICER category, and one in the ICEE category. Margins range from 35 to 50 percent.
Certified representatives and engineers are selected to serve smaller companies. Notes Skinner, “Many businesses, particularly those with fewer than 20 employees, cannot always afford to engage the services of a traditional VAR. The ICE programs are directed at this segment.”
Besides targeting traditional mid-market accounting software VARs, Icode also seeks CPAs, MBAs, Certified NetWare Engineers, and Microsoft Certified System Engineers. While looking to enlist resellers of competing products, Icode has made a particular effort to sign up supposedly disaffected Navision resellers, although a predicted wave of signings announced earlier this year has not yet materialized.
“The ideal partner will have the ability to provide all the deliverables of the sales process—marketing, selling, implementation, customization, and training to the SMB market. We want a network of channel partners who will remain self-sufficient and provide the local support necessary for long-term clients,” says Skinner.
Founded in 1994, Icode provides the Everest Suite of products for small to mid-sized businesses. The products are designed for businesses ranging from five to 500 employees in e-commerce, retail, wholesale, mail order, and distribution service.
Icode’s Everest integrated ERP product includes the Everest Standard Edition, formerly known as Accware, and the Everest Advanced Edition, until recently called the Everest Integrated Enterprise Edition.
In competing with other mid-market accounting packages, much of the company’s pitch is being made on price.
“Unlike alternative accounting or ERP software, Everest is affordable, and implements in days,” says Skinner. Everest Standard is $1,500 and the Advanced is $2,500. It also can be leased starting at $43 per user, per month.
Another feature that Skinner feels sets Everest apart is its Web store capabilities. Web stores expand a company’s market scope and enable customers to search products, identify compatible accessories, build kits, check inventory, compare pricing, and place orders online. “The Web stores are fully integrated with accounting and inventory. Web orders enter straight into the general ledger, customer account history, and inventory tally so the accountant has real-time financial information up to the second,” says Skinner.
So is Icode going head-to-head with Microsoft Business Solutions products? This past April, when Microsoft planned to release a cheaper version of Microsoft Business Solutions products such as Great Plains, Navision, and Solomon, Icode planned a 50-percent price increase of Everest Standard Edition to $1,500 per concurrent user. However, it is still priced lower than Microsoft’s products, which start at $5,000.
Better pricing isn’t the only advantage Icode claims. It feels it can attract Microsoft resellers, and has done so by signing one of Microsoft’s Inner Circle VARS, New York, N.Y.-based Business Management International. BMI currently offers Microsoft’s Navision—it was the top Navision VAR last year—Great Plains, and Solomon product lines, but still recognizes a market for Icode’s ERP offerings. “We had a void. Icode hits the sweet spot and other products just don’t compare,” says BMI president Larry Schiff. “We’re taking dead leads where Microsoft products were too costly and took too long to implement, and we’re making them work with Icode.”
The ICE Network
Since the launch of the program, Icode says it has received 3,500 applications for its programs. So how does Icode choose VARs and CPAs?
Skinner explains, “With the Icode Certified ERP Representative, we accept applicants according to experience with software and accounting, and with the Solution Provider program they already have to sell products and have a Web site.”
The ICE program focuses on organizations that want to resell Icode software as well as perform all client services. To join, a VAR must have at least two full-time employees that sell ERP systems, sales force automation, or CRM software and services to a client base.
Qualified applicants pay a $4,995 certification fee and must purchase at least $50,000 of Icode products. There is no renewal price, if a reseller completes one deal in the prior year. Partners must attend a five-day training session, take advanced computer-based training, and pass an exam. VARs must also have at least one ICER and one ICEE on staff. Once the process is completed, partners receive free software, leads, and marketing support.
Schiff has found that becoming an Icode Certified ERP Solution Provider “fit perfectly in an area we weren’t fulfilling properly—the mid-market.” BMI has already successfully completed two Icode implementations, and expects to complete three per month. BMI’s first implementation was for a company that grew rapidly and its accounting system couldn’t handle the volume. “They needed a stronger platform and database. It took us 10 days to implement Icode and on the eleventh day they were live on the Web,” says Schiff. An average engagement can start at $1,400 per user. For example, another implementation brought in $11,000 in software and double that in services.
Schiff isn’t the only one jumping on board. Under the Icode Certified Representative category, Icode has accepted 400 applications for the ICER program, and about 140 persons have completed the process. Certified representatives must attend ICE Representative training, which covers sales and marketing, with a specific emphasis given to the sales cycle and how to correctly identify and qualify prospects. There are both self-study and instructor-led elements in the roughly 15 hours of study.
The ICEE program is designed for partners who wish to provide implementation and training services. ICEE partners must attend a six-week modular computer-based training course that they take at their own pace. Engineers must have prior experience in technology or services. Both the programs are currently free, but in the future the ICER program will cost $1,995 and the ICEE will cost $3,995.
Carly Lombardo is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at: