In what qualifies as one of the stranger stories to hit my inbox, Twinfield UK, which provides SaaS accounting for SMEs announced it has integrated SalesManager, a Dutch CRM system with claims to ERP functionality.
Normally I would care less but as I read through the press release I started to get more than a little concerned. Why? Here is the rationale as described in the release:
Barbara Kroll, Managing Director, Twinfield UK said: “SalesManager has experienced a great deal of success with Twinfield in The Netherlands therefore we thought it was only logical to offer the same service to our clients here in the UK.”
My somewhat cynical interpretation: we spent about two minutes thinking seriously about this and thought: 'Sod it, why not?'
SalesManager has been around a long time - since 1989 - it operates on meaty databases like Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle DB10i or IBM's DB2 but it is unclear which mobile platforms it supports beyond iPhone. That means capex for the business at a time when so many are talking opex in a recessionary economy.
The press release refers to the claim that SalesManager supports 'about 20' of the top 50 firms of accountants in the Netherlands. Which is it? 18,19,20,21? It can't be that hard to fathom. More to the point, the Dutch market is very different to the UK in shape and size. It is for instance offering a Netherlands specific vertical market solution.
Even if you can get past these points, I fail to see how an on-premise solution that has its roots in technology that is 25 years old can possibly provide the best experience for an increasingly mobile workforce in the SME market. I mean, for all practical purposes, Salesforce.com has won the battle for hearts and minds in CRM. It would be much more logical to pull data from that system into Twinfield than an on-premises system.
For its part, SalesManager says:
Noel Digan, Director of SalesManager Software commented: “We engaged with Twinfield UK around nine months ago having previously built a successful relationship with Twinfield in The Netherlands. Our SalesManager ERP system is complimentary to Twinfield’s online accounting system and can be very simply integrated for users already using Twinfield which is a huge benefit for both. TimeManager offers project management, timesheets and billing completely integrated with Twinfield. We already have six or seven accountants using the solution here in the UK and so far feedback has been very positive.”
Once again, I have to ask - is it 6, 7 or some other number? And at the risk of sounding facetious, whatever the number, it's less than a rounding error given there are many thousands of professional firms in the UK. What's more worrying is that in talking about timesheets, billing etc, Twinfield UK have opened the door to competing with their own practice solutions. Why would they do that? It makes no sense.
All in? A puzzler.
Disclosure: at time of writing, Salesforce is a premier partner.
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