Deltek Doubles Down on Channel Efforts

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It's official- or at least it's starting to be. Deltek is formalizing its reseller network with the Deltek Partner Program, dedicating staff and providing incentives and training. Deltek provides project-oriented businesses with accounting software and other applications such as billing, resource planning, employee time and expense and project management.

Previously, the Herndon, Va., company found its resellers through acquisitions, essentially wooing the top dealers of competitors it bought.

Now, it is providing those roughly 20 global resellers with a more well-defined growth path and is looking to capitalize on the 8,000 customers still using the acquired legacy products, such as those from Wind2 Software, which served professional services firms in the architectural/engineering space-one of Deltek's primary verticals. Meanwhile, the company also is expanding in the SMB marketplace through a version of Vision introduced in 2006 and designed for firms with fewer than 50 employees.

Partner Insights

To support these efforts, Deltek has increased channel-dedicated personnel by roughly 70 percent in the past year, and plans to grow by at least 25 percent this year.

"There was a limited structure in the program that existed for it to be scalable, let alone attractive to new folks," says Bill Doyle, vice president of strategic alliances at Deltek. "This is a dedicated, conscious effort to stimulate the channel. We're fueling their success opportunity."

Deltek had previously partnered with CPA firms, but has now designed the CPA Accountant Network for them. Also, the roughly 15 former Alliance Partner Program members will now receive benefits more relevant to their needs. .

"The objective is less about recruitment and more about providing a means for a CPA firm to be certified by Deltek, to ensure our mutual customers receive service from companies that have experience with our products," Doyle says.

Unlike with the resellers, the majority of these relationships were developed directly with the firms. Most have been associated with Deltek Costpoint and GCS Premier (accounting software for government contractors), but Doyle hopes to establish more partnerships with CPAs focused on the Vision product line.

CUSTOMER CONVERSION

When it comes down to the actual sale, resellers don't need to sell on Deltek's value, Doyle says.

"It's an established, mature product that addresses needs out of the box, so resellers can do a higher transaction throughput and can change their pitch to deliver more consulting," he says, adding that he hopes to attract VARs who have backgrounds selling and servicing accounting systems. "We know we've got a tremendous footprint, a best-of-breed product and reference-ability attractive to legacy and new partners."

June Jewell, owner of Vienna, Va.-based Jewell & Associates, became a reseller in October 2005 when Deltek gobbled up Wind2 Software, for whom she had served as a reseller for 16 years.

"I made the decision pretty quickly, within two weeks of the acquisition. I could see the opportunity, and I jumped on it. A lot of our clients wanted to go that (conversion) route, but now they can do it sooner," she says.

So far, Jewell & Associates has taken on 300 new clients, sold about 18 Wind2 FMS (financial management system) applications into Vision, and achieved roughly $1 million in Deltek sales for 2006, not including services-typical starting license fees range from $400 to $500 per employee. She aims to reach at least $1.5 million in sales in 2007.

Her company was named one of four Premiere Partners in 2006, a designation that is based on revenue goals, client satisfaction and other metrics. "If somebody is going to hire us and trust us to take their business to another level, they want to know Deltek is holding us up as one of their best," she says.

Another Premiere Partner, Jim Falkanger of Minneapolis-based Central Consulting Group, expressed satisfaction with both the new program and the most recent upgrades to the product itself.

Falkanger stumbled upon Deltek in 2001, when his company was developing a product to provide resource scheduling and forecasting to professional services firms, and potential clients told him about Deltek, which was developing Vision at the time.

"We were so favorably impressed we said, 'Why don't we see if we can't help Deltek get where they're getting sooner,''' he says. "When firms see it, they're very impressed. Most of the time, the package out of the box fits the industry."

He points to the Visualization module and Mobile Applications Suite in version 4.0 as important to his clients' success.

Visualization's name speaks for itself: larger, dark blue boxes indicate the most profitable engagements, while lighter colors and smaller boxes allow companies to "quickly see which clients they're in trouble with in terms of owing more and delivering less," Falkanger explains. "Principals and managers are more inclined to respond to visual images than spreadsheets and numbers."

Mobile Applications utilize Blackberrys and other devices to tie field workers' timekeeping and expense tracking back to the accounting system. "We've created tentacles to those people through all the various modes of communications," Doyle says.

Resellers also point to the product being Web-based as a big selling point for deploying upgrades to users in remote offices and are keen on the workflow capabilities, including integration with Outlook to automatically transfer notes into a project when it is won.

UNDERSTANDING THE INDUSTRY

Particularly important is Deltek's understanding of the professional service industry it is attempting to attract, says Craig Sommerfield of Chicago-based Omnios, which signed on to the new channel program in January.

The biggest benefits are being able to understand how to increase profitability by project, utilize employees and determine which projects yield the highest profits, as well as staying on budget and on time, he explains.

"The majority of accounting systems focus on mass producing a set of widgets in a factory matter with a static labor force," Doyle explains. But with these companies, "the project is the center of the universe."

"Everything revolves around that-billing time, leveraging materials, hiring contractors. It's a very different dimension," he says. "I want to look at the profitability of each individual project, not just the total cost of sales."

Sommerfield aims to sell Deltek Vision to 12 or more prospects and convert at least five legacy customers by the end of 2007.

"The great thing is we have the ability to go after these customers and help them get migrated by showing value," he says. "Every system has an upgrade path. You have to position it as the next logical, healthy upgrade path. If they can see the value and the ROI, they'll go along and do that."

Challenges include developing product expertise and awareness in the market, while getting sales and consulting up to speed through training programs.

But Deltek is providing help in those arenas with resellers assigned a channel manager, and provided sales and marketing tools and collateral and lead sharing. Deltek University offers training on installing, configuring, maintaining and interfacing with its business applications.

Market Development Funds, in which credits are accrued based on a percentage of each reseller's revenue, can be issued for sales acceleration initiatives such as regional event sponsorships, collateral production, advertising and tradeshows.

There is no fee for resellers to come on board, and Doyle points to marketing as a main success driver.

"We're doubling down through our own partner marketing group so they can market campaigns in a box," he says. "Over the next six months, we want to have them push forward (with sales objectives). We will help with collateral, verbiage, etcetera, and be a quasi-outsourced marketing engine for them."

Tier discounting is available for resellers who achieve financial success, but all start off on a level playing field.

"Everyone is an equal when they enter the program," Doyle says. "We believe in letting the partner be successful on their own merit and value-add."

Alexandra DeFelice is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at alexandra.defelice@sourcemedia.com.

Deltek Company Snapshot

HQ: Herndon, Va.

Founded: 1983

Revenue: $225 million

Employees: 1,300

Resellers: 20

Offices: 14

Products: Deltek Vision, Costpoint, GCS Premier, Cobra, Open Plan

Web site: www.deltek.com

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