Goodman: What-ifs for CFOs and CPAs

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Accpac's Comprehensive Financial Optimizer software is supposed to enable software resellers to establish relationships with accounting firms-it gives users the ability to project the impact of changes in accounting data, so that CPAs can provide advisory services to new and existing clients. And it has functioned in that role, says Jan Goodman, a vice president of Forepoint, an accounting software reseller based in Hawthorne, Ill. "We have a strong alliance with the CPA community in Chicago," says Goodman, a member of the planning committee for the Illinois Society of CPAs' Business and Technology Show.

One of goals is to have Accpac resellers like Forepoint educate and train the CPA community about Accpac's entire Business Analysis Suite, comprised of CFO, Accpac Key Performance Indicators, and Accpac Business Advisor.

CFO has been the star as Goodman and the Forepoint staff have demonstrated the package to CPA firms. The idea is that the scenarios generated by CFO will show clients how their businesses can be improved. A CPA firm can then position itself to provide the services that will eliminate the problems that the what-ifs show.

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But Goodman found that CFO could be applied outside of public practice.

"After training CPAs on the product, we saw it was also a tool we and our industry clients could use to take advantage of the benefits as well," says Goodman.

Forepoint found industry clients could also recognize the value of CFO in monitoring their performance. "If any of their individual key indicators identify a red-flag situation, they are able to react immediately. One client is using this to analyze the process of consolidating a subsidiary into the main company versus keeping it a separate entity," she says.

Forepoint uses the term Financial Scorecard to describe the results produced by CFO with great effect. "It hits home with the CFO and other management team members every time," Goodman says.

She also used CFO to assess the impact of Forepoint's move to a new office. "We used the Strategy Tab to do the 'what-if' process. I wanted to see what the rent and utility increase would mean to our bottom line," she continues.

Forepoint has been an Accpac house since the mid-1980s, and has four offices in Illinois, California, and Washington, along with two affiliates with a total of 25 employees. Besides offering Accpac CRM, Forepoint sells a variety of Accpac products, including Accpac Advantage, HR Series, Warehouse Management System, eTransact, and CFO. Forepoint's revenue is approximately $3 million, and clients range from mom-and-pop companies to larger manufacturers and distributors, specifically in the Illinois office.

Although the firm has concentrated on selling the financial line, recently the CRM business has accelerated. Five out of Goodman's last seven sales were for Accpac CRM, both its hosted and server-based versions. As it does with CFO, Forepoint uses Accpac CRM in house.

"We use it all the time. It was certainly something we needed because of our multiple offices," she says. "If we have a tech support call, we have to have the ability to have any overflow handled in one of the other offices."

The online CRM product proves ideal for customers who don't have the infrastructure to handle the desktop packaqe. Users can be up and running without waiting for the installation of additional hardware.

The hosted version also proves to be a selling tool for the desktop software. Companies that start online can move to the packaged software without changing the look-and-feel or functionality.

Forepoint is in the process of working on a 150-seat, $300,000 deal. "We had one of our biggest clients start by using the hosted application, and now they're bringing it in-house," says Goodman.

Despite its loyalty to Accpac, Forepoint is looking at adding products from Best Software, which acquired Accpac earlier this year. The company picked up Best's FAS fixed asset line and is considering the addition of the MAS 500 accounting software line.

Forepoint is "looking at what makes sense," because the firm does not want to take attention away from where its strengths lie, Goodman says.

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