Les services SIPD Inc. has developed a French version of Acumatica Inc.’s cloud-based ERP software and specifically tailored it to the French Canadian market in Quebec. The Laval, Que.-based services firm, which acts as a distributor for Acumatica ERP in Canada, released the French language pack and system configurations in June.
Prior to developing the localized version, SIPD did market research on cloud and SaaS solutions for ERP and accounting software for clients in the Montreal area and didn’t find any solutions suited to the French Canadian market, said Gabriel Michaud, co-owner and vice-president of software development at SIPD.
Many customers in the Montreal area gripe about having to deal with server downtimes and backups for performance, he said. “Most of our businesses are small to medium and a good portion of them don’t have any dedicated IT staff,” he said. And “due to the small size of our market in Quebec, we are often late in the game with new technologies,” he added.
SIPD translated the French version, which is targeted to mid-sized businesses, using the software’s built-in localization tools, said Michaud. “That enabled us to develop a language pack that we would be able to re-sell to other users in Quebec or elsewhere where French would be needed,” he said.
The French version includes features like language drop-down menus for bilingual forms in French and English, he said. “We need to have the ability to print the invoices and purchase orders based on the customer or vendor language,” he said.
And because Acumatica is Web-based, end users can access it from anywhere – a Mac, an iPhone, or even the iPad, he said. “You can log in and check reports, accounts receivable, you can do any of the tasks that you would do at your desktop computer at your office,” he said.
“Quebec is one of those markets that doesn’t really get well served by English-speaking Canada or the U.S., nor does it really get well-served by the Francophone community,” said George Goodall, senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group Ltd.
Quebec doesn’t necessarily have a greater percentage of SMBs than anywhere else in Canada, he pointed out. But “it’s not an insignificant market and it’s certainly under-serviced,” he said.
Goodall said strategically, Acumatica is making wise decision to move into the Quebec market first. “The fact is, when we look at the English-speaking market, there is a fair bit of competition there,” he said.
Based in Washington, D.C., Acumatica is sold exclusively through channel partners and entered the Canadian market in February 2010. The solution can be deployed on-premise, hosted at a data centre or run on a cloud computing platform.
The fact that it can be installed on-premise using a company’s own equipment is a benefit for those customers “not yet familiar with cloud technology,” said Michaud. Some customers “are not sure if they should go to the cloud and have questions about the security of their data,” he said.
Acumatica was built as a horizontal ERP application, said Doug Johnson, vice-president of marketing and business development at Acumatica. “It doesn’t need client software, so it can be utilized in a model where somebody can install the server piece on-premise or it can be used as a SaaS model,” he said.
The solution is well-suited to businesses with remote offices and those with very mobile employees, he said. And the unlimited user pricing model is good for those that may have a lot of users, but only a few that are using the ERP system regularly, he pointed out.
One of the biggest challenges Acumatica currently faces are all the companies “jumping on the cloud bandwagon,” said Johnson. “There are so many definitions of what ‘cloud’ is these days as there are so many definitions of what software-as-a-service is,” he said.
“Our biggest challenge is explaining to people how our architecture is very well-suited for that and is in fact designed for the cloud, as opposed to other architectures that are being adapted to the cloud and are in fact a hosted software scenario,” he said.
Johnson said a “true cloud-based solution” provides “advantages of not having to install client software, very good access from anywhere and things along those lines.”
Acumatica’s SaaS solution runs on the Microsoft Corp. Windows Azure platform.