Neil Robertson Jul 31, 2020 10:15:00 AM 22 min read

Differentiating your ERP & accounting software offering

Every business is now struggling to come to terms with the uncertainties of the “new normal” and at the forefront of understanding and addressing these challenges is the CFO. 

In April 2020, The New York Times published that Apple declined to forecast sales for the quarter, as Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s CEO explained, “given the lack of visibility and certainty in the near term” and a recent article in Financial Director used the headline, “cash is no longer king and has become god”. 

Every business and every CFO are now predominantly focused on three critical activities: Conserving cash , Reducing costs and Increasing productivity 

For those of us in the business of automating finance processes with accounting and ERP software we really need to take note of this fundamental change of corporate focus (specifically better controls over purchasing and accounts payable automation), and evaluate how well our application offerings address these “new normal” requirements. It will often make the difference between whether the prospect makes the investment at all and if they do, who they select to deploy it.

Looking for what you - as an ERP or accounting software reseller - can do right  now to empower your customers (CFOs) and help drive your recurring revenues?  Download our free eBook and discover how you can help your customers and  generate more sales today!

Whilst every business will review their payroll costs first (being the highest cost for most businesses), the next step will focus on all corporate spend. 
In this blog, we’ll be highlighting several things you - as an ERP/accounting software reseller need to have to help your customers and drive more business through this period. 


1. Do you have the right software to control purchasing? 

For any business to control all purchasing costs, it has to start with ensuring that processes are in place to enable formal approval of all orders before they are placed. Whilst every business will have controls over high-value items, very few have any control over the high volume of lower-cost items and usually finance departments only find out about them when the vendor’s invoice arrives. 

The challenge is that very few accounting/ERP applications are designed (or priced) to be used by the high volume of staff outside finance that order these items and so are rarely used for this purpose. If they are used, very few staff are happy about it as it involves too much work (they are “clunky”) and invariably introduces delays. 

At the same time, businesses have significantly increased their online spend with suppliers like Amazon Business over the past few months to deal with most (if not all) of their staff working from home. We all personally know the benefits of online buying, but when it is a disconnected process from finance, it introduces yet more headaches for them: who bought what, where was it delivered, who needs to confirm it was received, how is it coded for the GL and – more often than not – where is the invoice? 

To meet the CFO’s requirement to control spend, ERP/accounting software resellers need to provide an application that is designed specifically for that purpose. To successfully automate the entire purchasing process and drive adoption across the business, the application must make it incredibly simple for the user to quickly raise a “requisition” (request to buy), apply workflow approvals based on value and other criteria (don’t make them think) and approve these requisitions from any device 


2. Can your clients buy online directly using your ERP/accounting software? 

Whilst purchasing automation helps to provide controls, the ideal way to achieve business-wide adoption is to enable everyone to buy online from marketplaces such as Amazon Business. A recent detailed analysis of spend analytics (and our own experience of buying from Amazon) has highlighted that for the vast majority of general office spend, Amazon Business offers the best value, this being the balance between quality, price and availability. Amazon achieves this through their competitive offerings, Business Prime service to cut freight costs and (usually) next-day delivery anywhere. Simply put, buying from Amazon Business is almost always cheaper! 

If you want to impress a CFO, being able to demonstrate fully integrated online buying as part of a purchasing automation solution will do the trick. Total visibility and total control over every purchase before it is made, convenience (which will result in very high adoption by all staff) and tools to enable the entire business to save a considerable amount of time and money. 

Of course, whilst fully integrated online buying supports the entire business, the biggest benefits and productivity gains are enjoyed by the finance department – not only do they gain visibility and control over every purchase before it happens, but the entire accounting function is also automated. 


3. Are you saving your clients money on what they already buy? 

With fully integrated online buying, all vendor invoices are automatically digitally captured, matched against the order (line by line), coded for the GL and automatically sent for approval(s) from any device. On final approval, they are instantly posted to the existing accounting/ERP application (i.e: AccountsIQ, Sage, NetSuite) together with the image of the invoice. 

Now compare that to your current offering; how well do you compete against ERP and accounting software resellers who offer a fully automated solution as described above? 

To take this one step further, by using the granular spend data (every supplier, every invoice, every line-item code, description, unit of measure, quantity and price), it becomes easy to identify and deliver additional savings through advanced digital procurement applications and technologies, all delivered as a service. The savings value increases with the value being spent and often runs into $100k’s year-on-year for larger businesses, delivering the ultimate cash ROI. 

To summarize as a checklist, does your current process 

  • Enable the quick and simple capture of every purchase before it is made? 
  • Enable you to build a fast-growing recurring revenue and services revenue stream from both existing and new customers that adopt this new way of working? 

Every CFO that you engage with will fully understand how this level of purchasing automation addresses their primary concerns of conserving cash, reducing costs and increasing productivity. 

All that is left to decide is whether you want to be the business that can really help CFOs in their hour of need, or the one struggling to handle the customer’s concerns over the capabilities and costs of your current offering. 

If you want to differentiate your ERP/accounting software reseller offering, grow your revenues and help your customers — CFOs — to conserve cash, control spend and increase productivity, we can help.  

Download our e-book How ERP and accounting software resellers can increase sales during and beyond COVID-19and discover how you can generate more sales and empower your customers today.  

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Neil Robertson

Neil has a 39-year track record of building successful direct and channel global software businesses predominately in the financial software market place. Neil Robertson is Executive Chairman of Compleat Software. A 39-year veteran of the financial software marketplace, Neil has a long track record of building disruptive start-ups into successful businesses, including his time as CEO EMEA of Great Plains where he built the business outside of the USA from 1995 - 2001. Compleat is no exception and perhaps the most disruptive of them all.
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