SaaS Channel Momentum Builds

Two nice pieces of news for Intacct's channel program this week at our annual user and partner conference.

Yesterday in the main conference session, we were delighted to recognize LarsonAllen as Intacct's partner of the year. Al Anderson, managing principal, accepted the award and gave a fabulous keynote on how LarsonAllen us using Software as a Service to transform their business.

Al talked about what is was like in the bad old days of having to deal with nearly 6,000 installations of nearly every version of just about every model of on-premises accounting packages. He then talked about how LarsonAllen has been rapidly deploying Intacct to eliminate the technical and business barriers arising from this chaos. By shifting to SaaS, he said that they are realizing major improvements to the service they can offer their clients, better career paths for their people and greatly improved operations for their business.

It was a great presentation and the most common comment from the other partners in the audience was "wow, I want to do that too."

We also issued a press release this morning announcing some of our new channel partners who have joined the Intacct Business Solutions Providor program. ACF Solutions, Business Intelligence101, Infoclad, FAOnDemand, InnoVergent, Software Solutions for Business, and Tripp Chaffin and Causey are among the new resellers who have recently joined the Intacct family.

Getting todays press release done was an interesting process because the partners were all here with us at the conference - so we were able to have them sit down and type their own quotes directly into the announcement. If you read what they say below I think you'll get the idea why momentum is really building in the SaaS channel - these partners are finding it easy to bring SaaS solutions to their customers and are building great businesses while doing so.

From Paul Camissa, managing partner of Innovergent:

We are excited about our Business Solutions Provider partner relationship with Intacct. Since our first contact with Intacct, it was very apparent how much of a priority the BSP program is to Intacct’s overall growth strategy. Intacct’s commitment to partner success starts from the executive team and runs through the entire organization. The partner-friendly strategy further supported our decision to invest in our relationship. Our ability to support our clients and grow our business is enhanced tremendously as result of this partnership.

From Kevin Lalor, president of BI 101:

We have over 500 customers using SaaS applications, including Google Apps for email security and compliance. Our customers have embraced SaaS, and are demanding more mission-critical applications, including those for financial management, as they outgrow the functionality in QuickBooks. We looked at the market, and quickly realized that Intacct is the clear leader in the space and that they are focused on making their partners successful. We're excited to be a part of the Intacct partner program and look forward to continuing to offer and support best-in-breed SaaS applications to our valued customers.
And from Doug Sharp, VP at ACF Solutions:

As a premier SaaS consultancy and implementation partner, ACF Solutions found Intacct to be a perfect fit for our customers’ on-demand financial requirements. We're closing business today because the simple integration of Intacct MAX™ for Salesforce makes Intacct a no-brainer to bring to our customer base.
So you can see why I am excited - Intacct's partner and channel friendly strategy is paying off. Our channel business was already growing at 160 percent year over year before these new partners joined our family. I love the fact that SaaS channel momentum is building and I think the sky is the limit - and I firmly believe that being partner friendly is better for our partners, their clients and for Intacct.

Getting Closer To 100 Percent SaaS - Announcing Intacct-Ready

This morning we announced our new Intacct-Ready program and our four charter members Adaptive Planning, Avalara, QuickArrow and Spring CM at the 2008 Intacct international user and partner conference.

The idea behind Intacct Ready is to make it easier for businesses to move toward 100 percent adoption of SaaS applications. In my keynote at the conference this morning, I did a stand up survey of our conference attendees - it was clear that the typical Intacct customer is already using four or five SaaS applications to run their business. The vision of Intacct-Ready is to work with other leading SaaS companies to make it easy for companies to get closer and closer to their goal of going 100 percent SaaS.

To join the new Intacct-Ready Program, our partners commit, with our help, to develop, maintain and support integration between their products and Intacct. Together we align our customer support policies and in many cases we even align service level agreements. We also certify the integration and work jointly towards measuring and maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. The idea is to give the customer a seamless experience, where making best of breed products work really well together becomes the vendor's problem and is not an exercise left up to the student.

The Big Hairy Audacious Goal of Intacct-Ready to shift the integration costs and risks of selecting and deploying best of breed business applications from the customer to the vendor. Our intent is to assemble a coalition of the best on-demand applications in every category and pre-integrate them with Intacct. To shamelessly rip-off Doug Harr, the CIO of Ingres, the end-state of this vision is, at least for SMB companies, that the vast majority of IT infrastructure will eventually simplify down to an Internet connection and a router. Now that's cloud computing.

Intacct-Ready is a dramatic change from the old on-premises software days, where integration between applications was a costly, risky and failure prone exercise that was the responsibility of the customer and an army of expensive consultants and integrators.

That whole debacle is what led to the rise of the single vendor suites in the enterprise software world, and has predictably resulted in bad things like low satisfaction, high failure rates and vendor lock-in. SaaS and the new Intacct-Ready program offers a different and compelling vision for bringing together the benefits of the suite (vendor responsibility for integration, maintenance and support) and those of best of breed (great applications that really work.)

You can probably tell that I am excited. I think Intacct-Ready represents a major step toward our vision of help businesses get closer to deploying 100% SaaS. And I am just delighted to welcome our first four Intacct-Ready partners, Adaptive Planning, Avalara, QuickArrow and SpringCM to the Intacct Family. Watch this space for more and more Intacct-Ready partners joining the fold over the coming weeks.

You've come a long way...

CPA Technology Advisor just completed their 2008 reviews of leading mid-market financial management and accounting applications and I'm pleased to report that Intacct earned a perfect score and a five-star rating. Intacct received perfect 5.0 scores across all six categories that were reviewed:

  • Ease of Use/Transaction Entry
  • Modules & Notable Features
  • Integration/Import/Export
  • Reporting
  • Support/Training/Help
  • Relative Value
You can read the full review of Intacct here.

I'm particularly proud of these results because this was a head to head review against some of the top selling, most mature on-premises financial applications - Microsoft Dynamics GP, Sage, and QuickBooks Enterprise - and Intacct received the best possible score. Given that financial management and accounting is one of the most complex and most mature categories in the software market, I think it's a nice milestone that SaaS applications like Intacct are being recognized in reviews like this as having reached functional parity with or surpassed the on-premises leaders, some of which have been in development for as long as 30 years.

It wasn't too long ago they said this couldn't be done. Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy and Harry Debes, CEO of Lawson are still saying this today. When you combine great SaaS applications that can compete head to head with the best of the best on-premises alternatives with the compelling low-cost / low-risk economics, rapid innovation and customer-centric focus that SaaS brings to the table, you can see why Intacct and the other SaaS leaders are growing so quickly - It's just a better way to run your business.

Internet Applications Sizzle

Congratulations to Seth Pomeroy of Intacct partner The NDH Group for being recognized as a visionary in the CPA profession in September's Accounting Technology magazine.

This month's cover story, Warming up to the Web, starts out with:

Something is happening with prospects who are looking at accounting software, says Seth Pomeroy, something that has not happened before. Prospects are asking about Internet-based applications.

This is a great article to read for anyone who's thinking about how Software as a Service / SaaS accounting applications and the Internet can transform the accounting profession and help accountant provide better service and more value for their clients and at the same time better profits and higher employee satisfaction for their firm.

Seth says it best:

I am a big proponent of Web-based. The model is one of customizing the system rather than worrying about hosting or balancing software on somebody’s server. When we propose an engagement for a customer, it has nothing to do with setting up software on their server and doing desktop software. It’s a huge, huge help. And one of the advantages is that it’s about a much less error-prone accounting process.
Congratulations again to Seth and NDH - visionary leaders showing the way for the future of the profession.

The Accounting Profession, SaaS and Sarah Palin - Womenomics

Interesting article in the Saturday Wall Street Journal called Let's Talk About Palin's Family Challenges by Katty Kay of the BBC and Claire Shipman of ABC News. The catalyst for the story is the media frenzy over Sarah Palin's work-life balance.

The authors say:

This is not a redux of the old Mommy Wars -- that stale, red herring of a debate between "career" moms and their "stay at home" counterparts - it's a new women's movement we call "Womenomics." Thanks to women's fast-growing market value we can finally live and work in a way that wins us time and avoids that agonizing choice of career or kids.

This sounds a lot like what I've been hearing from many CPA firms. The average age of the 400,000+ CPA's in the United States is over 50, and there is a chronic shortage of accountants. Firms have struggled to retain smart, highly successful women who enter the profession out of college but have a hard time staying on once they decide to have a family.

Some numbers from the story:

  • Four out of five women want more flexibility at work and call it a top priority
  • 60% of women want to work part-time
  • Women are 58% of college graduates, and get graduate degrees in greater numbers than men
Here at Intacct, our CPA partners have discovered that the SaaS model supports the idea of Womenomics in the accounting profession, because on-demand accounting systems like Intacct offer tremendous flexibility regarding when and from where you can work. You can work from almost anywhere - all you need is an Internet connection, and you can work any time, because the applications are always up and running. So, for the first time, accountants can fit their work to their lifestyle, which can be particularly enabling for professional women who need to manage work alongside family. To be clear all of this applies to men who need more flexibility too, but today's post is reacting to Womenomics.

Kay and Shipman continue:
Companies, eager to keep women and terrified of the cost of replacing them, are responding. They've discovered that offering work-life balance actually increases productivity. There are accountants who get home at 3 p.m. every day but remain on the fast track. Top New York Law firms have part-time partners who are still players.

Our accounting partners are already seeing how SaaS lets them tap into smart, professional women who want to work but also want work-life balance. It helps accounting firms retain their people, and can even bring stay at home moms back into the profession, helping to offset endemic labor shortages. As the authors of the story say, the point is we now have reasonable options -- it's not all or nothing.

And that's good for everyone.

Going 100 Percent SaaS

I had a nice time yesterday with Rob Hull from Adaptive Planning, Jeff Schultz from and Doug Harr from Ingres on a panel called “Going 100% SaaS” during Office 2.0 conference. You can see the full 45 minute video of the session. Gadi Shamia of Revongo moderated.

The idea behind the panel was to talk about the state of the art in moving to a completely SaaS strategy for all of your systems - what the innovators are doing today, the benfits and challenges they are seeing, what the limits are, and what the industry needs to do to make this easier.

We all had lots of fun in the preparation for the panel. Doug Harr's view that 100% SaaS means that your whole IT infrastructure simplifies down to a wireless router in your communications closet is certainly a provocative one.

We had lots of spirited discussion on what we saw as the boundaries (none of us think 100% SaaS is truly realistic today, particularly when you think about desktop software, personal productivity, telephony, file sharing, data warehousing, etc) but all of us are seeing more and more companies, including our own firms, at 80% or 90% SaaS, and we all are getting tremendous benefits from this.

Gadi Shamia, the moderator, posted a summary and his thoughts on his Ala 360 blog. Ben Kepes also covered it in his blog.

I won't repeat their summaries of the discussion and the insights they took away. If you take a look at their blogs you can quickly see all the good things that we covered, and once again you are welcome to watch the video of the session.

I largely agree with both of their sentiments that while the panel was interesting and there some great insights and learnings that came out we never got to the some of the main points we wanted to discuss about the future of SaaS.

The questions from the audience really dragged us back to the current state of SaaS - in a 45 minute session we couldn't both answer the questions about slow moving large enterprises that have not yet adopted SaaS and at the same time talk about all the things that we know the industry needs to do to help more innovative companies that have embraced and are benefiting from SaaS to get closer and closer to 100%.

I think we'll have to reconvene the panel and do a webcast focusing specifically on the how close to 100% SaaS is realistic (or a good idea), and what we think the industry needs to do to help companies get there. Ben closes his post with "Maybe next year" - I don't want to wait that long - far too many companies are getting huge value from making 100% SaaS a strategic aspiration today.