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AIA new kid on the ERP block

16th Feb 2010
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A UK entrepreneur is taking on the business software giants with a web-based system enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite costing just £22.50 per user per month. is the brainchild of Nick Spooner, a technology veteran who worked with Steve Jobs at NeXT Computer in the 1990s and went on to sell build and sell transactional systems for the financial services sector.

When he went looking for a suitable accounting system for that company, Spooner’s discovered that what was available was “not good enough” to run a business. To get a system capable of doing all the things he wanted - dealing with project costing and profitability, resourcing and sales pipelines - would have cost £250,000-£300,000, he discovered.

Even NetSuite, the Cloud-computing challenger to “on-premise” developers such as Oracle and SAP, wanted a large sum up-front from the start-up to carry out a gap analysis. Its system would have cost £1,200 a month for seven users, Spooner claimed.

His frustrations spilled over into the specifications for a web-based business software system that has taken five years to get ready for commercial launch. While offering features such as gross margin tracking in P&L accounts and time-sheeting/utilisation reporting, was designed with ease of use uppermost in mind.

According to Spooner, the application should be simple enough to install and configure without the need for expensive consultants and users should be able to learn how to use it through following online videos.

Most notable of all is £22.50 per user per month subscription fee.

The ease of use and affordability are part of the company’s objective to roll the application out in large volumes. Talking to technology resellers and business advisers, including accountants, Spooner found that people inhabiting this sales channel were alienated by Cloud developers who by-passed them to sell direct to customers.

The strategy is based on working with resellers, who will be able to “whitelabel” the application for their own customers and clients. The application’s in-built billing and support systems allow intermediaries to handle the administration themselves (or let the developer handle it), while continuing to “nurture the relationship with customers”, Spooner said.

Along with its whitelabel strategy, Salesorder is “giving the keys to the channel” with scripting and development tools that will let partners adapt the software for specific customer and industry needs. “They can adapt it for their market, which can give you frictionless growth,” he said. is trying to attract accountants who want a route into the Cloud computing market with the opportunity to generate long term recurring revenues from small business clients looking for a comprehensive, integrated ERP and accounting system, he said.

Partners will be able to quickly plug in, brand and start selling the small business ERP software as a service in less than six weeks. A an accountancy firm serving 1,000 clients could expect to generate annual income of £1.35m, ”of which a significant percentage would be bottom line profit”, the developer claimed.

The company’s online training videos support the fast take-up strategy, he explained. Around 32 hours’ worth of material has been recorded in short segments showing users how to use different aspects of the system – right back to accounting basics.

“If you can’t read a P&L or balance sheet, or put together a chart of accounts, we show you how to do it. We take people through the whole reasoning,” Spooner explained. For example, one sequence shows what a business plan should look like and explains how the lines in the plan should be reflected in the chart of accounts. Further videos teach people how to read a cash flow and how to bring data into the system (with advice on which data to import).

After working through several major disruptions in the technology business, Spooner is unfazed by the idea of taking on the likes of Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and Sage. “I joined Digital when I was 16, when it was the new kid on the block. Everything went departmental and Digital machines replaced mainframes. Software as a service (SaaS) is like that now,” he said.

As well as charging customers so much, accounting software developers have tended to shroud their applications in mystery, Spooner argued. “That’s wrong. The Facebook and Twitter generation coming through now want it in the cloud. [Accounting] is changing. These kids will go to the Cloud and accountants will lose out. Before you know it, accounting services will be delivered through the whitelable platform – it’s a very mesmerising argument I’d be happy to talk to them about.”


Replies (1)

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By justin.millner
10th Oct 2013 21:18

Dissapointed user

We have been using for 2 years and I am afraid we could not recommend it, very disappointed, multiple issues and all development seems to have stalled.  

Even the most obvious bugs are met with "custom development" that will be chargeable. So lists come back sorted by oldest first and that will be a custom development to show you this month’s invoices not two year old ones!  I could list endless issues.

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