SAP to ‘educate’ mid-tier firms

SAP is the latest software company to make a play for closer working
relationships with accounting practices.

With demands for the attention of practitioners greater than ever from the
software industry, SAP has announced that it would visit every top 50 accounting
firm outside of the Big Four to build up commercial relationships.

With attention switching to the mid-market for the business software
providers, SAP plans to ‘educate’ accounting firms to provide more business
re-engineering advice to clients, and enable them to look beyond traditional
revenue streams.

Mark Weir, SAP’s channel development manager, said the software company would
look to establish ‘a deeper partnership’ with accountants than was usually the
case with other accounting network schemes. ‘The other type of relationship is
“here is our product now sell it”. We will dispel the myth that they’re a sales
arm. They’re not salespeople, but they can supplement revenues,’ said Weir.

This would include programmes of education, project management, software
implementation, and risk management training, primarily around its Business One

‘Top 50 firms should expect a call from us in the future,’ he proclaimed.

But rivals Oracle have hit back at SAP’s plans, arguing that SAP Business One
was a ‘pared down product’ that would not support SMEs’ long-term plans, leaving
them to migrate to a different product if they expanded further.

‘This is a costly option that limits growth and risks stifling innovation,’
said Tim North, director of mid-market applications at Oracle UK.

‘SMEs’ requirements are not necessarily less complex than their larger
counterparts. What differentiates them is that they have fewer resources. They
need accelerated IT implementation without compromising the richness of
functionality and flexibility,’ North added.

Dave Reynolds, chief executive of IT accountants’ group IAAITC, said smaller
firms had to consider alternative sources of revenue after the ‘general decline’
in compliance work that followed the raising of the audit threshold from £1m to
‘Because IT touches so many parts of a business today, it makes sense that the
accountant, as the most trusted adviser, should be able to understand IT issues
and should be able to give advice on them to any size of business.’

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