Immediatech sees reselling document management systems as a natural fit for CPA firms, and has begun tapping into the market with its GoFileRoom Business Partner Program.
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“Firms can easily start a new line of business and generate a recurring revenue stream. Since GoFileRoom is a Web service we provide, they don’t need to provide any technical support, and can offer their clients access to their own documents, such as tax returns and financial statements, right through the Web,” says Joe Harpaz, executive vice president and Immediatech’s co-founder.
In fact, according to CAP Ventures Research, the document outsourcing market is calculated to reach $54 million this year and continue to grow at an annual rate of 19 percent.
This works in favor of the Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based company, whose program began in January 2003 for organizations that want to resell GoFileRoom to customers on a project-by-project basis. “This is a fit for CPA firms, consulting organizations, and system integrators,” says Harpaz.
The program currently has 10 partners, eight of which are CPA firms. Within the next two years, Harpaz expects to have 60 partners. Immediatech anticipates having resellers work in vertical markets such as law, health care, banking, insurance, and engineering.
“We want larger organizations with management consultants, and less pure network consulting groups,” he says. “Partners need to have an existing customer base to offer GFR to. The bottom line is we want organizations that see this as a strategic decision, not just a one-time investment, and they’ll have to be willing to invest time and energy into marketing.”
Since it was founded in 1996, Immediatech has been focused on providing document management solutions to CPA firms, and currently has 50 firms using GFR.
While document management systems are common, GFR is not. If it isn’t the only Web-based program available, it is one of very few such Internet-based systems. GFR permits companies to store documents in an online filing cabinet from which they can be retrieved via a browser interface. Documents can be organized in a similar way to paper folders, divided into sections and subsections that can contain all documents. Papers include scanned paper documents, documents generated by existing systems, Microsoft Word and Excel documents, and any “printable” document such as a Web page or email. All files are maintained at a secure off-site location, which provides back-up not available with paper-based systems. GFR is offered in two editions. The Enterprise edition is offered through the channel, and pricing starts at $60 per user, per month. GFR Professional edition is a self-service option that can be bought and implemented online for smaller firms at a lower cost point. Users can sign-on for five, 10, or 15 dedicated licenses, starting at $395.
“Our partnership with GFR is a natural way to combine our firm’s in-depth knowledge of the document needs of our clients with the technology of Immediatech. When it comes to paperwork, clients trust their CPA firm. They also like the idea of a solution that can make them more efficient and more profitable without heavy up-front costs,” says Sid Edelstein, a principal with Cornick, Garber & Sandler, and founder of its business technology consulting division, CGSolutions.
The New York City-based firm became a GFR partner in September, and will begin marketing the product this summer.
According to Edelstein, GFR will be an important addition to the firm’s business continuity practice and disaster recovery consulting, which accounts for 90 percent of the technology practice’s revenue. “Our clients’ main attraction to GFR will be for the disaster recovery aspects. In-house document management software still means companies have to back up and maintain the system. This is not the case with GFR,” he says.
All files are maintained remotely in an Internet-accessible, off-site location, which provides the kind of back-up and redundancy that is critical for disaster recovery. For maximum security, access to the service is provided via user name and password authentication as well as 128-bit SSL encryption.
“Many clients have important documents that cannot be easily replaced, like contracts and letters of agreement. Storing them off-site in a secure location rather than in an office file cabinet enhances business continuity,” adds Edelstein.
In order to join the program, partners pay a $1,500 fee, which covers sales training and demonstration models. A one-day training session provides sales and marketing education, as well as a product overview including functionality, deployment, and implementation.
The margins can be as much as 20 percent. Immediatech takes responsibility for implementing and maintaining the data center, servers, and user interface, and also provides partners with sales, marketing, and technical support.
In fact, Harpaz feels that supporting partners on their first implementation is vital to the success of the program. He says, “It is important so that we can ensure that the implementations go smoothly in light of the fact that the partner is new to implementing GFR, and might not have enough experience under their belt yet. It is also an excellent way to transfer real-world knowledge to the partner while in the field. Immediatech provides our partners with consultants, both system engineers and business analysts, to assist with implementations.”
Mike Biggs, owner of Strategic Technology Group, agrees: “The beauty of Immediatech is that you can access GFR with a broadband connection, and they’re assisting us with all the early demos. Having a Web-based product makes it easier for them to be involved, and they have more experience with selling the product. Getting them to sit in on the process brings knowledge to the table.”
The St. Louis, Mo.-based company is a Microsoft Certified Partner and Microsoft Business Solutions reseller representing Great Plains, Solomon, and the Microsoft CRM, and Retail Management Systems. In addition, it represents Intuit MasterBuilder for the construction market. “We’re always looking for good products that move away from the back-office application, and GFR met our criteria. We chose the partner program because it offered a great solution, not tied to a specific accounting application, and is a true Web-based application. We think this is vital to our long term strategy, especially in terms of monthly residual revenue,” says Biggs.
Additionally, one of STG’s core markets is professional services, for which it sells Solomon Project Management. “Architectures, engineers, and other service firms are heavily document-driven and GFR provides a good extension to what we already do with Solomon,” says Biggs.
Edelstein concurs. “GFR’s ability to integrate directly with any Microsoft- compliant product makes it easy to go beyond simply managing documents to actually improving document workflow, he says. The integration capabilities reduce the manual effort involved in correctly indexing and filing electronic documents—they’ve made it into a one-to-two button process. In paper-intensive professional service environments, time is money, and you don’t want people who bill out at $300 an hour wasting time searching for documents.”
Attracting More Prospects
In addition to the partner program, Immediatech is currently developing a Strategic Alliance Program that will roll out this summer.
The Strategic Alliance Program is for larger organizations that already have a significant number of customers in a specific industry such as insurance and banking, or a large software vendor that is looking to incorporate GFR into an existing service or software application.
“They can brand GFR so that it has the same look and feel as their existing product or service. This is for organizations that are much larger than accounting firms,” adds Harpaz.
Also, Immediatech will host several seminars and Webcasts aimed at CPAs, and partners will be able to invite their prospects to get a feel for the GFR product and services.
HQ: Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
Phone: (201) 541-4121
Carly Lombardo is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at email@example.com.