Enterprise management solutions provider IFS had been doing business directly with customers in New Zealand for years by the time it announced a deal with Solnet to be its exclusive reseller here last August.
The vendor had gone through a long vetting process, according to Rob Stummer, who has been managing director for IFS in Australia since 2007.
“I knew early on it wasn’t a good idea swinging in people from Australia,” Stummer says. “We needed someone on the ground and it took me two years to find Solnet. We knew of them and we were talking to a number of resellers, but those were not intereseted, either because they were a standard system integarator and didn’t want to align to a single vendor, or they were already heavily aligned with SAP or Microsoft.”
The size and maturity of the enterprise resource planning market in New Zealand almost determines the size of a channel for a provider like IFS. For starters, the relationship means that Solnet is already beginning to look after one of IFS’s handful of New Zealand customers, with more to come.
“Solnet is IFS in New Zealand now,” says Stummer. “And we’re happy with that. The traction has already increased.”
For Solnet, a trans-Tasman integrator that emphasises scalabable business solutions, IFS’s modular ERP approach was an organic fit.
“There were a number of factors in our decision,” says Rob Veal, branch manager for Solnet’s northern New Zealand region. “IFS’s sweet spots around project, service and asset management, along with its modularity and very competitive TCO make it a compelling proposition. There is a real opportunity to grow the IFS market share leveraging our local services and support capability.”
Veal says the Solnet agreement “reperesents a real growth opportunity for us”, rounding out its online business, business process automation and support that the company does for enterprise customers. For smaller organisations, Solnet provides and supports solutions with OpenERP.
“Our ERP capability is a targeted growth area for Solnet, in both the mid market and enterprise market,” Veal explains. “The New Zealand enterprise ERP market is quite mature, and relatively small compared to overseas. However, we believe the time is right to bring a credible, more cost effective alternative to the market.”
The same, but different
Stummer says modularity and a simplified interface are the biggest draws to IFS solutions.
“In effect, the functionality of IFS is no different from SAP or Oracle: all of the big guys do pretty much the same thing, in different ways to a degree, but at the highest level, it’s the same thing,” he says. “Our interface is made as user friendly as can be, not a complex, front-loaded ERP. It’s a big button approach.”
The product can be implemented by role — such as HR, Maintenance and Finance — and by functional modules as they are needed at the time.
“So they don’t have to put the full ERP in they can choose each module in each stack they need to get going,” says Stummer, and grow from there.
Solnet's Veal says deciding on the benefits of selling a particular technology is a collaborative process between Solnet consultants and clients, based on how it fits a customer’s needs. IFS’s functional “robustness” and usability features made it stand out from incumbent systems.
“A feature of many longer-established ERP implementations has been the degree of functional development required to meet business requirements,” Veal says. “The expectation with IFS is that clients meet their business needs from within the standard application, providing the immediate benefit of more modern technologies and a clear upgrade path.”
The partnership will likely result in additional consulting, technical and support resource for Solnet, which also plans to “lift the IFS profile further this year through a range of marketing activities.”
IFS and Solnet officially marked their partnership with a golf outing in February (see photos in the Out & About section on page 17 of this issue) for the companies and existing IFS clients.