Mid range: Squaresum

DREAM by SquareSum may have missed out in other years but the company’s ethos of financial software for accountants by accountants has paid off at last, beating off the challenge from both Exchequer and Microsoft Business Solutions.

The company itself has been on a sound financial footing for some time thanks to its solid product range. SquareSum has been able to record double-digit growth in revenue, profit and cash in the last year through the growth in new customers, and it has managed to record ten successive years of profitable growth.

That’s no small feat given the tough conditions the IT sector has had to suffer recently and the number of competitors that SquareSum has seen fall by the wayside.

The company believes most of it success is down to the emphasis it places on customer care and long-term growth rather that exaggerating short-term sales projections and rushing off unsound products that have had too short a development cycle. It has more than doubled its customer base in the last three years and reinvests 19% of the revenue it receives in product development.The company has also been expanding its presence among partners. It has increased their number in the UK and has also for the first time established overseas partners in Ireland and New Zealand. Its incremental revenues from partners have grown 88% in the past year.

The product itself, DREAM, was written from the ground up for the Windows operating system and the company retains a very close working relationship with Microsoft, despite it being a competitor in this category. It is a certified Gold Partner, not something that is easy to achieve, and was the first UK application vendor to get its software certified for Windows XP.

DREAM also keeps up-to-date with the latest developments in technology and the product makes extensive use of XML and web-based technology. A new version of the product is already live in a number of key customer sites and this offers increased functionality in terms of web deployment, reporting and connectivity.

It is also aiming towards an implementation that will take full advantage of Microsoft’s .Net strategy for web services and the new development language that goes with it, C#. Already its web functionality means more people than ever outside the finance department are using the product and its ‘User Defined Interface’ means it can be tailored for those who are not so finance-savvy.

It is also reliable. The SquareSum helpdesk gets approximately 1.25 calls per month from customers with problems and many of these relate to database issues rather than DREAM. SquareSum also cites the average length a customer keeps a version of DREAM as a sign of its reliability. At 1.4 years, a relatively short life-cycle, SquareSum says this shows that customers have no fear of upgrading as there is no interruption to their systems and few bugs compared to some, more painful upgrades of other packages.

No wonder the judges said: ‘An excellent product, I can’t recommend it enough as a winner.’ And: ‘They have great ideas about how you address accountants’ needs.’

Other shortlisted candidates:

  • Exchequer for Exchequer Enterprise
  • Microsoft Business Solutions for Navision Attain

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