REDMOND, Wash., Apr. 27, 2004 — Microsoft Business Solutions today announced the acquisition of accounting products from Encore Business Solutions, Inc. that are critical to the success of customers and partners in the public sector. The acquisition includes Encore Business Solutions’ not-for-profit accounting products and the intercompany payables management and requisition management modules currently sold by Microsoft Business Solutions under an OEM agreement with Encore Business Solutions.
Microsoft Business SolutionsGreat Plains 8.0, scheduled for release this summer, will include functionality essential for Microsoft Business Solutions and its partners to conduct business in the public sector: grant management, fund accounting, and encumbrance , which tracks and monitors the commitment of funds prior to invoicing. In North America alone, there are an estimated 2.3 million public sector entities, which include government, not-for-profit, education, and healthcare organizations.
Today’s announcement follows closely on Microsoft Business Solutions’ recent provision of details on its strategy to enable independent software vendors (ISVs) to build additional industry-specific solutions by focusing on providing an extended platform and applications.
“Enhancing the core horizontal functionality in Microsoft Great Plains 8.0 by offering an industry-enabling layer for organizations in the public sector is a vital step in taking action on the strategy we recently outlined,”
says Dave O’Hara, vice president, business development, Microsoft Business Solutions.
“It will let our ISV partners go further with us as they will be building on top of a more robust foundation. Our partners will have greater opportunities to really focus on their specific areas of expertise and develop applications that address the challenges of organizations in the public sector.”
One ISV partner that expects to benefit from the addition of an industry-enabling layer for the public sector is Hansen Information Technologies, which specializes in end-to-end solutions for state and local government agencies that integrate revenue-generating assets into core financial functionality.
Bryan Klann, vice president, strategic alliances and channels with Sacramento, California-based Hansen, expects that the expansion of Microsoft Business Solutions’ industry-enabling layer for the public sector will enable Hansen to offer its customers a more robust solution – at a more competitive price.
“We see today’s announcement as a tremendous opportunity to have Microsoft Business Solutions do the baseline development work, which allows us to focus on the more specific development efforts that truly make a difference to our customers in this market,” he says. “Today’s announcement solidifies Microsoft’s commitment to the space in which we work, and it will allow us to go deeper into development with the Microsoft Great Plains solution.”
Klann says he expects to take advantage of the new public sector functionality to develop solutions that are even more compelling for his company’s customers. “Our customers use technology to better manage the community infrastructure that we all interact with on a daily basis – everything from building permits, business licenses and roadways to
streetlights and utilities,” he says. “For the cities and municipalities we serve, technology is critical to their ability to manage an entity that is, important to all of us as citizens.”
Bottom line, says Klann, is that “in our space, vendors make it onto the short list and win deals based on how many requirements they can respond to affirmatively. Accounting functionality specific to the government sector is absolutely critical to the organizations we serve. Without this functionality in the Microsoft Great Plains product, we have to either build it ourselves or purchase it. Microsoft offering more functionality in the base product will definitely help us be more competitive when it comes to approaching organizations in the SLG market that wish to purchase and deploy new technology.”
Drawing on Proven Expertise to Increase Opportunities for ISVs
Existing intercompany payables management and requisition management modules in Microsoft Great Plains will be enhanced with additional functionality from Encore Business Solutions’ not-for-profit suite. Since Encore Business Solutions and Microsoft Business Solutions have identical support policies, customer support will be provided for the current and previous versions of all modules.
The two companies, O’Hara says, have already proven themselves a good fit.
“Microsoft Business Solutions and Encore Business Solutions have a long-standing, solid relationship,”
“Encore Business Solutions code has been developed with the same developer tool set as Microsoft Great Plains, which makes it an attractive opportunity to enhance existing horizontal financial management applications.”
O’Hara says today’s code acquisition is reflective of Microsoft Business Solutions’ two-fold vision for business applications: One, develop applications for small and midsized companies with an emphasis on enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. Two, extend the Microsoft platform with business applications at the core horizontal functionality level, providing greater opportunities for ISVs to develop deeper and richer vertical functionality.
The platform focus, O’Hara says, offers ISVs multiple opportunities to engage with Microsoft Business Solutions. ISVs can connect their products to Microsoft’s suite of solutions; they can leverage their products to extend the core functionality of the Microsoft business application; or they can embed and sell a complete solution that includes Microsoft’s products as well as their own. ISVs can also engage directly at the platform level if they choose not to use Microsoft Business Solutions tools.
O’Hara adds that the value Microsoft places on its worldwide network of business partners which includes ISVs is at an all-time high.
“We continue to look for ways that we can enhance opportunities for all of our partners,”
“We definitely see today’s announcement of code acquisition as such an opportunity for ISVs. As we continue to extend the horizontal functionality, our ISV partners will be able to focus their expertise on creating specific vertical solutions that add a deep degree of value for their customers and will help them be more successful.”