IT File – QSP diversifies into Web services

Gateshead-based accountancy software developer QSP continued its diversification programme last month with the launch of an Internet consultancy division.

QSP’s 15-strong NetConsulting division will advise UK businesses on how to set up electronic businesses online and how to integrate Web-based business applications with existing financial packages. The new division will work with any software and package on any hardware system, either on site or by remote access.

David Pinches, QSP’s marketing manager, said e-businesses targeting the consumer market were ‘dodgy and risk ridden’, but explained that the new division would specialise in corporate intranet consultancy. Pincehs added that QSP was negociating three #100,000 contracts with existing clients, but declined to provide any further details.

He also stressed that the consultancy arm was not simply another sales channel for their software, but was part of a wider diversification programme.

NetConsulting comes less than two months after QSP launched an outsourcing service, SMS, which runs QSP financial systems for clients such as Siemens and the Borough of Poole Council.

In a move reminiscent of QSP’s latest initiative, Mitsubishi Electric last month announced plans to build a systems implementation division aimed at medium sized companies. Mitsubishi, too, will offer Internet services to clients wanting to set up electronic commerce projects.

Electronic commerce is still in a very embryonic state. But Pinches maintained that latent demand for sophisticated Web-enabled internal business systems justified the new division.

‘Companies in the intranet area are starting to get significant returns by applying Web technology to business processes like employee expenses. We’ll link up an internal web server holding employee expenses to the general ledger,’ he said.

But Richard Brett, managing director of London-based accountancy software dealership Solution Partners, which works with medium-sized companies, was unconvinced: ‘There is a common thread of interest in Web-enabled products from our clients but no one is doing anything about it yet,’ said Brett. ‘Despite this, QSP are on to a good thing as Internet pioneers. However we all know what happens to pioneers – they get arrows in the back.’

Dave Anderson, Oracle’s director of applications in the UK, said more and more software vendors were branching out into systems integration. ‘The market is coming together. Product companies are extending their relationship with clients by offering services and services companies are offering products.’

Market-leader SAP has moved into installing its own ERP systems rather than relying on the Big Five firms, he added.

QSP’s remained upbeat about the company’s aim to colonise the market below SAP and Oracle and its integration partners. ‘We’re more fleet of foot than the Big Five. We’ll take on contracts of #40,000 in the hope that the client will stay with us and the contracts will grow to#300,000.’

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