This year's crop of Killer VARs, or those accounting and ERP product implementers who have shown outstanding year-on-year growth, are a true microcosm of the elite VAR 100 in their class in that theyâ€™ve all become more about service than software.
What we've seen from the VAR 100 is adaptation to a changing business environment in their adding of services as well as products to help better meet the evolvin
g needs of their customers. The resellers that grew their business the most were no different and, in fact, found that changes such as a more vertical focus, becoming more of a consultant than a sales organization, buying and building, and, of course, increased cloud product and service offerings, are what made the past year exceptionally successful for them.
The technology consulting practice of Top 100 Firm Crowe Horwath, a long-time Microsoft Dynamics partner, saw a 75.2 percent jump in its reported revenue from a year ago. An increased vertical focus played a large role in the meteoric rise, as well as what senior manager Jim O'Laughlin describes as being a "triple threat," in that his team has been able to deliver a regional, a national and an international focus.
"Having a vertical solution focus continues to deliver the greatest positive impact for our firm. Our mature and proven vertical ERP solutions for the manufacturing and public sector have generated increased name recognition, significant upmarket opportunities and more successful implementation results," said O'Laughlin. "During the past year we've also experienced a dramatic increase in client implementations requiring international services. Similarly, we've observed a notable spike in the percentage of our new opportunities related to international organizations."
Crowe Horwath has also managed to support this international growth by hiring nationally and internationally, including establishing a new international office based in New York.
San Ramon, Calif.
For yet another year, Top 100 Firm Armanino's technology consulting practice has reached Killer VAR status, noting a 62 percent lift in revenue from the 2012 report and, more important, generating nearly half of the entire firm's revenue from consulting. The Dynamics and Intacct partner is seeing that its "more integrated" approach, coupled with cloud and outsourced business offerings, has had the largest positive impact on the practice's and firm's growth.
"Our consulting offerings have become more integrated over the past year because our clients are taking our advice to look more holistically at their systems and are coming to us more frequently for multiple services and projects than in the past," said partner-in-charge Tom Mescall. "We've found a fast-growing demand among our customers and prospects for more robust business applications to manage their enterprises. That has compelled us to place technology at the center of our services, which we have been doing for a number of years now. That said, we know that having great business applications is not enough, and based on our results, we believe we are meeting and exceeding our client expectations."
Buying and building has long been a strategy of many top VARs, and after over two years as a Microsoft Dynamics Master VAR, SBS Group has been able to build a vast national network - one that continues to grow and contributed to a 70 percent revenue spike from last year's VAR 100 report.
SBS president James Bowman believes that it's not just acquisitions that make it successful, but responding to the needs of many of today's comparatively smaller consultants, as well as the ability to see which will fit best into its branded network.
"The way things are today, there is a reduction in resources to support the channel, whether it's partner account managers, marketing funding, margins and other things, and it's created an opportunity for us to help fill that void by offering a set of services to channel partners that can help them grow their business and provide additional support," said Bowman. "We have been able to fill those voids, so when a partner joins our network they get immediate access to a variety of skill sets - from cloud to SharePoint, CRM or .Net -- that many don't have the ability to invest in. Branding also allows us to leverage marketing spend across a broad geography, so clients are finding SBS all over the country now."
BAASS Business Solutions
Growth through acquisition has also been a large part of Toronto-based BAASS Business Solutions' plan in recent history. The firm purchased CA-Plus and Equation, which have effectively expanded its product offerings, staff and geography. BAASS grew by 56.5 percent from a year ago and also moved up in the VAR 100 rankings from No. 41 to No. 29 this year, due in large part to its more aggressive M&A.
In addition, although it did not impact its 2012 revenue, the firm has taken its first official step into the U.S. by merging in Chicago-based Sage and NetSuite partner and a previous VAR 100 firm Axis Global Partners earlier this year.
"Market consolidation and greater geographic reach have provided a positive impact for our firm, and our more recent acquisitions have added to our already extensive breadth of service offerings, as well as strategically enabled us to extend our expertise within emerging markets such as the Caribbean," said BAASS president Joe Arnone. "The consolidation and onboarding of numerous practices has allowed us to revisit our long-term goals and objectives and ensure alignment to our mission. Our extensive consulting team has opened up new opportunities for revenue growth and cross-sell opportunities with our existing customer base."
A growing number of resellers are starting to see notable benefits from representing cloud accounting and ERP products like Top 100 Firm CliftonLarsonAllen. The firm has made some key hires in sales and business development to support its technology consulting initiatives, and has expanded its internal marketing to help educate the entire firm on the technology group's products and services. All of these efforts have helped fuel the group's 71.5 percent revenue lift over last year's report; however, partners Don Frank and John Wooldridge also point to the firm's success in cloud accounting and ERP reselling -- specifically Intacct -- as a key reason for its growth.
Clifton Gunderson's technology group became an Intacct VAR before the parent firm's merger with LarsonAllen back at the start of 2012, and is now seeing "significant growth" in this practice area, according to Wooldridge. "Intacct has been a part of the firm since 2001 for our BPO work, but we weren't a reseller until 18 months ago. In general, we feel more organizations are embracing cloud and moving away from the desktop, which has contributed to our growth in certain product areas," said Wooldridge.
Focus on the cloud, and only the cloud, has also helped ERP Guru grow from a small technology specialist to one of the top NetSuite partners in the channel serving the Canadian and U.S. markets, as well as earning a spot on the VAR 100 for the first time ever. The firm has only represented NetSuite and boasts a host of services around that goal, which has earned the attention of its publisher as well as other top VARs who have recently signed on to the NetSuite channel.
The firm has more than doubled its revenue from a year ago and is on track to do the same for this year, according to chief executive Martin McNicoll. ERP Guru has also formally launched its own partner channel to help work with other NetSuite partners, which he claims has helped fuel the firm's growth. "We partner with other VARs where we can compliment their offerings and they want us to help them out because they'll have a one-off or two-off big NetSuite project. It also brought confidence that they can tell others we can work well with them," explained McNicoll. "We have also made a consistent investment in people and skills through focused training and career development; that has been key in delivering top-quality service."
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