Help For Ambitious Irish Firms To Grow

 As published in the Sunday Business Post on 25th March 2012.

Sage’s success with mid-market companies is based on delivering all the business advantages of an ERP system without the complexity and implementation headaches.

Peter O'Rourke of Sage Ireland

Peter O'Rourke, head of channel and corporate division in Sage

In the 15 years since Sage set up in Ireland, it has built a base of 40,000 customers, many of them mid-sized businesses regarded as the engine room for economic recovery. It is well documented that the company is the largest provider of accountancy software to small firms in Ireland, but Sage also has the biggest share of companies with more than 1 million in annual turnover and up to 500 employees. ‘‘These companies may well have other businesses springing up around them and there’s a real synergy between what they do and the national economy,’’ said Peter O’Rourke, head of channel and the corporate division in Sage Ireland.

They are also defined by their complexity. As a company grows, every aspect of the business is affected, and entry-level accountancy software struggles to keep up. They need to think about an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution, according to O’Rourke, because of the typical trajectory that a growing business takes. ‘‘They start adding employees and get into payroll and managing employees. ‘‘They find themselves with a sales team who people want to look after customers and manage the sales cyclemore efficiently,’’ he said.

‘‘And the business model changes if they move from selling one product to multiple items. They find themselves needing more materials from more suppliers; some of them might be coming from overseas.’’ The business starts to add scale and greater complexity that an ERP system can address. Historically, they have been seen as a solution for the largest companies, but Sage has played a significant role in changing that perception, making ERP more relevant to more businesses. ‘‘In the last 30 years, it stretched down in to the midmarket and in the last ten, it’s reached even the smallest businesses, sometimes with just two or three employees and a single complex process. ‘‘For us, it’s all about giving them the functionality they need to manage their end-toend processes,’’ he said. The secret of the company’s success according to O’Rourke, has been its ability to grow with its customers and understand their challenges.

The company has developed a strong market share because of its intimacy with its customer base. Over the years, it has added features and functionality to its products, always improving business and cost management processes, constantly hitting the mark in terms of what mid-size companieswant. ‘‘The priority for us is understanding what our customers need and only giving them what they need, when they need it,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s about adding features and functionality that helps them get to where they want to go.’’ This approach is in sharp contrast to large ERP vendors who have struggled to rid their products of complexity that makes them difficult for smaller firms to use. ‘‘We have built our ERP solutions from the ground up, whereas competitors only focused on smaller firms after their natural customer base in the high-end became saturated,’’ said O’Rourke.

‘‘Their culture is in complexity and they find it difficult to deliver appropriate products to the mid-market.’’ Simplicity of implementation is anotherkey selling point for Sage. Anecdotes abound about how engineers from the large ERP vendors take up residence in their customers’ premises on deployments that never seem to end. For Sage, it’s all about short, sharp delivery,which is one of the reasons why ERP has become more available and affordable to smaller firms. ‘‘Faster implementation is a trend in business technology that’s gathered pace over the last ten years,’’ said O’Rourke.

‘‘It’s easy for us, because 95 per cent of the features and functionality come with the products. ‘‘They are there out of the box, so it’s just about tweaking it to suit the customer’s needs,rather than rewriting code.’’ He said that putting in a Sage ERP solution would typically take between two and five days, depending on the complexity of the business, and even less time for HRor CRM products. Always central to Sage software is an intuitive and userfriendly interface. The trick is to keep the complexity in the background, to facilitate all the functionality that a business needs without undermining productivity. ‘‘From our cloud products right through to on-site ERP solutions, our software is designed to serve employees in different roles. ‘‘The capability is in the system but the interface for every individual is always intuitive. ‘‘We want people to be able to get on with their jobs without having to be experts in
technology,’’ said O’Rourke.

Interested in what Sage ERP can do for your business, visit Sage ERP or call 1890 88 25 22