The power of innovation

From humble beginnings to globally-recognised specialist and award-winner, AccTech has grown rapidly and has come a long way, but what of the future?

By Donovan Jackson – Copyright Brainstorm & AccTech Systems.
Photo credit: Suzanne Gell, Mariette Landman

Brainstorm The power of innovationLooking for the world’s most successful Accpac business partner? The search won’t take you far, not much further, in fact, than the Centurion headquarters of AccTech Systems. This company has achieved substantial results based on a quite simple, yet effective, business principle, says CEO Tertius Zitzke; that of differentiation.

“When this company was formed in 1994, the question we asked was: There are dozens of mid-market Accpac business partners; why are many not growing and excelling?”

The answer of course, was that they were not doing anything differently. They were Accpac resellers, which was great, but also meant their potential was limited to providing the core Sage ERP Accpac solutions.

What AccTech Systems does differently is that it quite literally opted to think outside of the box in which Accpac software ships. Zitzke expands: “The strategy was to evolve around and outside Sage ERP Accpac. We wanted to play in a world far bigger than where Sage ERP Accpac was positioned. The way we accomplished that was by innovating.”

Devoted to development

Many companies make a fuss about how innovative they are and how they encourage this somewhat nebulous concept. AccTech’s innovative results are clear. Its approach was to wheel in a brains trust and a lot of software developers to enhance the core ERP product. Zitzke says 30% of the company’s staff complement occupies itself with software development and customisation. In confectionary terms the result is something of a sophisticated dessert in which vanilla is but one ingredient – the main ingredient being the University of Life.

And so? “We have 30 add-on products around the Sage ERP Accpac suite, mostly around the areas of workflow and business process management,” says Zitzke, “Many of these additional products developed by AccTech are distributed through the global Sage Accpac channel.”

Traditionally viewed as an accounting package, while Sage ERP Accpac has evolved well beyond that – perception issues remain. The perception that Accpac is only suitable for small to medium enterprises still exists. However, says Zitzke, AccTech’s customisations, developments and services have helped to enhance the capability of Accpac and positioned it as a true ERP solution.

“The cost of ownership of such systems is considerably less than what ERP users might get from other vendors,” Zitzke notes.

Instant success, just add MS

AccTech does more than Sage ERP Accpac. It is no secret that a business application set such as Sage Accpac does not function in a vacuum. Most companies who AccTech has engaged already use Microsoft software. Zitzke says AccTech strategically decided to complement its existing business applications offerings with the full spectrum of Microsoft services and products.

“AccTech’s Microsoft offerings, such as Collaboration Services, Enterprise Project Management, Business Productivity Set, Business Intelligence and Office Business Solutions, have emerged as complimentary solution sets which we took to market with huge success. A director was appointed and a Microsoft division started in January 2007,” added Zitzke.

Calling the division being successful would be an understatement. “With AccTech’s depth of skill it took just a week to get the necessary accreditation as a Microsoft Certified partner and six weeks later we were a Gold partner with 10 competencies,” he relates.

At the Microsoft World Partner Summit 2008 AccTech was awarded the second place in the category for global Enterprise Project Management partner of the year. It also received no fewer than ten nominations in various Partner of the Year categories and took home two wins at the Microsoft Africa Partner Summit 2008.

To the future

“At AccTech organisational culture is of primary importance. Without our people, AccTech Systems would just be a hollow building and a couple of chairs; we believe in our people and we believe in creating a future for them,” Zitzke says. “Our low staff turnover is testament to our organisational culture.”

On average, staff at the company spend about six years in its employ; very high for an IT company. Among its strategies that drive this retention is a focus on training – indeed, its headquarters could be mistaken for a training centre. The location of the building which houses the lion’s share of its staff was carefully thought through. “Eighty percent of our people stay in the area; we wanted to create a home from home for them,” Zitzke says.

With the backing of a loyal and capable workforce, Zitzke says the company’s plans going forward are to remain at the forefront of technology; he tips CRM and BI as key focus areas.

Furthermore, Zitzke foresees growing opportunity in Enterprise Project Management and training solutions.

There will be challenges, among them the brain drain. “If we lose five percent of our people, as a small company, to overseas countries, think of the impact across the industry. This is the single biggest challenge we face today,” Zitzke states.

He continues: “AccTech Systems remains positioned to deliver. There is no shortage of business out there. We have grown at more than 80 percent year on year and expect that to exceed 90 percent this year.” concludes.

“In AccTech the I, me and mine are never bigger than the we and us,” Zitzke concludes.