[IMGCAP(1)]The past couple of weeks have been a period where you have to ask, “what didn’t happen?” Rebranding, major financings, practice growth, practice closures; we had it all.

I am glad to have been here to cover it and even more so to offer my take on what I believe were the top stories so let’s get to it:

News: ParenteBeard announced to its clients that it will be closing its technology practice, ParenteBeard Technology, retaining a few staff, others moving on, and transferring client service to German-based Microsoft Dynamics partner knk Group and long-time software partner Serenic Software.

My Take: Not knowing all of the internal details, or closely following the firm’s activities, I am limited in what I can really say about what actually caused this to happen. What I do know is that based on the firm’s response -- what there was of it anyway --  the practice apparently became more of a liability than a profit center and they did the right thing by finding the right parties to ensure their clients were taken care of.

That part of it still remains to be seen and even Serenic admitted that final details of the portion of clients they’ll be serving were not yet sorted out. On the other hand, knk Group is a long-standing Dynamics partner with experience in the products and client base they’ll be taking over from ParenteBeard, and as a bonus they get to expand into the U.S. even further as they already have operations in Portland, Ore. and Mountainside, N.J. Now they’re in Wilkes Barre, Pa.

As for ParenteBeard, again I have to see this as a sign of the times. They were in a good niche and retaining a technology practice these days does require this level of focus, but it also requires time and attention and perhaps they just weren’t growing it like other areas of the firm; those are my thoughts, anyway.

News: Long-time Sage North America partner RKL eSolutions has effectively expanded its Sage 500 ERP practice, primarily by taking on former consultants, executives and product customers from Portland, Ore.-based Sage partner ISM.

My Take: First off, as with ParenteBeard this move is certainly a sign of the times in the VAR/tech consulting world. If a firm, for whatever reason, is unable, unwilling, or sees a limited future in the product line they are handling it’s best to find a partner(s) who is. In this case, ISM head BJ O’Reilly made a decision to focus more on other product lines than Sage 500, which the publisher has – in his mind – made it clear they will not likely support in the years to come.

As such, he had internal discussions about the move and some of his staff including his vice president wanted to stay with the product and decided to move where it moved. It just so happens that there was already an established relationship with RKL so hopefully the move will be smooth both for vice president Stuart Blumenthal and the other ISM staff who went with him.

I didn’t get the impression there was any bad blood at all and that this was in fact a financial transaction that took place between two channel partners. For RKL, I think they stand to become a leading Sage 500 source not only for customers who need the support for the product, but for perhaps other firms who may be looking to move on from the product as well.

News: Paychex Inc. has officially introduced Paychex Accounting Online – a secure cloud accounting offering aimed at small businesses and powered by strategic partner Kashoo.

In early October, Paychex purchased a minority stake in and formed a strategic alliance with cloud accounting software provider Kashoo. Initially, the partnership was aimed at Kashoo providing payroll services to U.S. customers and has since expanded.

My Take: So when Paychex first announced their “strategic investment” in Kashoo last month, I knew it was only a matter of time before we started seeing what it was really about. Granted, for Kashoo it gave them a solid payroll service partner and for Paychex it ensured that they were the payroll partner of choice in a world where other online accounting vendors had several such partnerships or even their own payroll offerings. This has clearly evolved for these two parties.

What I see happening here is a deeper relationship that will in all likelihood develop into a full on ownership situation, as with Sure Payroll. If all works out, I don’t see any reason why in the next year Kashoo wouldn’t become a wholly owned subsidiary of Paychex, and one of the top payroll providers in the country will get to white-label a small business-focused cloud accounting product. I think Paychex enjoys the Kashoo brand and the customer focus they have and for a relative start-up like Kashoo, this is a pretty big win for the sheer exposure to customers and the accounting community the Paychex brand and its partnership with the AICPA/CPA2Biz will bring them.

News: Cloud-based ERP and customer relationship management software provider Acumatica has raised $10 million in a Series C funding round led by Runa Capital and Almaz Capital. The latest funding is earmarked to help accelerate growth and work with its partner channel to further advance the product in the worldwide SMB market. Acumatica claims it currently sells exclusively through its global network of 250 partners.

My Take: Right now there isn’t as much competition in midmarket cloud ERP as there is in say, the SMB-focused cloud accounting space. This is likely going to change as need breeds competition, but right now even in a comparatively less competitive space Acumatica has its work cut out. This money, I think, will go a pretty good way towards expanding its brand recognition and opportunities to get in front of more partners who could potentially use the product for their customers. I don’t think it hurt either that they signed on SWK Technologies to their channel – currently the largest U.S. partner to actively join the reseller network

Acumatica’s been in development for a while, and that will continue with the aid of these funds, but they are only in the early stages of getting the awareness they need if they are going to remain. Acumatica’s white-label strategy is a pretty good one as well, already inking major publisher partnerships on a global level with Visma and MYOB. Again, I think this infusion of capital will help further that goal as well.

News: AccountantsWorld has renamed its cloud-based accounting system Accounting Relief as Accounting Power. The name change is intended to reflect some of the most important benefits that the product aims to provide, giving accountants the power to help clients better manage their business finances and make their services more relevant to their clients’ needs.

My Take: What’s in a name? Well, AccountantsWorld is hoping that changing the name one of their flagship products will better communicate what it’s all about. Let’s face it, AccountantsWorld is one of the most, if not the most established names when it comes to cloud and accounting, but they don’t have quite the recognition or attention that some of the newer players are getting. They continue to evolve their products and remain committed to delivering essential services accounting practices are looking for: accounting, client portals and payroll. Sometimes you need a brand or name change to better reflect what you do, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. We’ll see how it works out.

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