SP challenges outsourcing giants

Accounting software specialist QSP is aiming to boost its market share by diversifying into outsourcing.

Launching the company’s Systems Management Services initiative last week, David Pinches, director of marketing at QSP, explained that the move into outsourcing grew out of additional services QSP already provided for clients.

Thirteen of QSP’s public and private-sector clients have taken advantage of SMS, including Siemens, the London Stock Exchange and the Borough of Poole Council.

The outsourcing service is based around QSP’s core Financials suite, which includes general ledger, accounts payable and asset management modules. The software works with Oracle databases and operates on Unix or Windows NT-driven computers.

The 24-hour service is tailored for medium-sized companies and covers administration, upgrades and performance monitoring. It is run from QSP’s Gateshead head office, with communications and technical support delivered via ISDN telephone lines. Hardware and on-site support is provided by field engineers.

Pinches acknowledged that QSP – which was forced to issue a profit warning two years ago – was attempting to move into territories controlled by the likes of Andersen Consulting, Deloittes & Touche’s outsourcing subsidiary CSL and IT giants like IBM and EDS. However, the software house had the advantage of owning the software. ‘Our clients could go elsewhere, but does Andersen know our software as intimately as we do?’ he said.

Pinches added that QSP was interested in developing partnerships with other outsourcers. ‘If a big outsourcer takes on a huge IT project, we could run our own financial applications as part of the deal,’ he said.

Dick Turpin, business development director at CSL, commented: ‘The QSP move seems to be positive and defensive. Conventional IT suppliers are no longer just selling boxes to clients. They’re protecting their client base by selling themselves as systems integrators.’

A spokesman for Andersens would not speculate on the possibility of partnering QSP, but also doubted whether the software house was a threat. ‘They may have their own strengths, but they don’t have a track record in traditional outsourcing,’ said the spokesman.

Pinches said QSP had put its rough financial patch behind it. Following the appointment of a new board, the company had seen its turnover increase by 10% last year to #28m. ‘We had an extraordinarily competent business, but our marketing didn’t exist,’ said Pinches.

Referring to the collapse of the Sears-Andersen outsourcing deal in May, Pinches said: ‘It sent shockwaves through outsourcing clients which will continue to question how we measure value for money.’

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