QSP Targets Government Budgeting Market

QSP Targets Government Budgeting Market

By Lisa Terry Special to Washington Technology

UK financial software developer QSP Inc. is targeting large federal and state government agencies with the launch of Financial Collaborator, its first product created specifically for sale through resellers.

With the new Web-based budgeting, planning and forecasting application, the company also is kicking off a brand-new channel program, signing major government integrator Mainline Information Systems of Tallahassee, Fla., as one of its first partners.

Seeking to jumpstart its rate of growth, QSP decided to tackle the arduous, often spreadsheet-based process of preparing a budget with a collaborative, Web-based solution designed as an adjunct to best-of-breed, legacy and enterprise resource planning financial packages.

QSP saw revenue of $67.9 million in 1998, with $89.1 million projected for 1999 and $112.2 million in 2000.

With the new software priced at approximately $500 a seat, significantly less than the developer's other financial information solutions, a new market approach was warranted, said Bill Schneider, vice president of business development, East, for QSP.

"QSP is really strong in the UK and Europe and other parts of the world, but the United States is pretty saturated in terms of mindshare in financial planning applications," said Brian McDonough, an analyst with International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass. "It makes sense that QSP would want to get a local channel who knows the government market."

QSP pursued Mainline Information Systems, one of IBM's largest hardware resellers, as a key partner for a new series of Web-based solutions for optimizing financial processes to take advantage of its significant presence in government and education markets and close relationship with IBM. QSP's world headquarters is in the United Kingdom, and its U.S. offices in Raleigh, N.C.

"Our partners said this is a marvelous solution for the federal government. That's not something we have a lot of experience with, so we're looking to identify partners who work with federal, state governments and municipalities," said QSP's Schneider. "We're first going after the GSA schedule, working with several partners around the Beltway."

Mainline and other resellers will market the same product to Fortune 2000 corporations worldwide. "It's a challenge finding value-added resellers with salespeople who are skilled in selling to CFOs," Schneider said.

"The federal government has a harder time than many with budgeting," said Joe Simmons, manager for strategic alliances at Mainline. "And on the local level, the city council gets the budget from the respective departments and they have to make it fit."

The application's collaborative nature enables all parties to work together to make decisions about what gets funded, he said.

QSP's new application is an early entrant in the market for collaborative budgeting solutions developed for large enterprises and joins the trend toward Web-based, analytic applications, such as human resources self-service and travel expense management, said IDC's McDonough.

These applications "coordinate the budgeting process from a bottom-up perspective, which eventually meets with top-down" in the process giving the parties involved real-time access to a single data source and replacing a series of cumbersome, disparate spreadsheets, he said.

For Mainline, Financial Collaborator and the other applications to be included in QSP's suite of Web-based solutions facilitates the reseller's move away from an exclusive hardware focus.

"Mainline is moving strongly to the solutions side. We plan on building a solid portfolio of 20 or so packages of all types," and have so far taken on about 15, said Simmons.

QSP also is striking alliances with other integrators, value-added resellers and partners with expertise in implementing enterprise resource planning, business intelligence and groupware for the new solutions suite, targeting those with $40 million to $500 million in sales. Among them is Precision Systems Concepts Inc., Shaumburg, Ill.

The new Channel Partner Program allows resellers to go to market to establish sales momentum without significant investment of time and startup fees.

Discounts start at 35 percent for the first $300,000 in revenue and go up from there, with additional money to be made from installation, training and maintenance fees.

To date, QSP has signed seven partners in the United States and 20 partners worldwide.

Mainline already has begun calling on its major government and corporate clients, and its salespeople and a few key staff members will be trained on the product within the next 45 days. The integrator also is installing the system internally.

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