Distributor Pastel Software has extended its Australian deal with accounting software vendor Sybiz to selling the latter's combined CRM and accounting application here.
John North, managing director at Pastel Software Australia, said Sybiz -- through its parent Softline and ultimate UK owner Sage Group -- already sells its Sybiz Evolution software overseas via Pastel's parent.
The product was available in South Africa and elsewhere as Pastel Evolution. However, a contract extension would allow Pastel to bring the same product to users in Australia as Sybiz Evolution.
"Our dealers were saying to us: 'Why can't we sell Pastel Evolution?' They had to go to Sybiz ... You had one brand split by two distribution companies," he said.
North said Sybiz Evolution was unusual among mid-range accounting software packages, for its integration of CRM. CRM functionality had been built into the application from the very beginning, unlike most packages that tried to layer it in afterwards, he said.
"[Users] want CRM to work with accounting software, but there needs to be a big synchronisation between the two programs. Or, at the end of the day, you are paying two upgrading fees and two licensing fees," he said. "This reduces support by about 50 percent in terms of call rate."
One key feature was that everything entered into the application was categorised as an incident -- rather than a transaction -- making it easier for the application to collate and compare different kinds of information, he said.
For example, a phone call, a memo or a meeting could all be classified the same way in the system at point of entry, going straight to the desktop meaning that a job's progress through the company's different staff and processes could easily be tracked.
"So it's more a business management tool, rather than accounting software," North said.
The package thus offered more sophisticated CRM than many in the market, that tended to focus purely on sales CRM, he said, and combined that with a complete payroll package that should help simplify payroll for small to medium companies.
"Australia has probably got the most complex payroll system in the world," North said.
Pastel begins training resellers next month for when the deal takes effect, in April.
Peter Whalley, managing director at Sybiz Software Australia, said Sybiz Evolution was in some ways best thought of as a 'mini-ERP' application.
"We have it all together with workflow and exception management for the SMB," he said. "When a small business starts up, they have a few people and have 100 percent control. As they grow above maybe five people, they can't keep the same control."
Packages such as Sybiz Evolution could help growing smaller businesses get a better view of their companies processes and practices, the way larger companies could with corporate ERP, he suggested.
Whalley said he did not think the Windows-based product had any close competitors as it was quite different from its rivals. No other applications, as far as he knew, combined the CRM capability with accounting software in such an integrated, comprehensive way, he claimed.
"It is a natural upgrade from our Sybiz Vision [accounting software] but it's not as well because it is totally different, because a [Vision] user would look at it and go, 'what is this?'" he said.
However, corporate packages that offered similar functionality would cost around $60,000, but Evolution was more in the $6000 to $7000 price range.
"That's still an impact for an SMB, but not as big a scare," Whalley said.