Eastman Goes Indirect with Vredenburg

Eastman Goes Indirect with Vredenburg

For years, Eastman Software defied its own business model by selling directly to the federal government. Although it used resellers in its other vertical markets, the Billerica, Mass.-based developer of enterprise imaging, work-flow and COLD (computer output to laser) products was not eager to pass the buck when it came to dealing with major clients, such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Social Security Administration and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, State, Treasury and Veterans Affairs.

But that all changed this past May when it abruptly stepped out of the direct sales game and tapped Vredenburg's information technology subsidiary VIT Group, a Reston, Va.-based systems integrator specializing in enterprise document imaging and work-flow solutions, to serve as its alliance partner in the federal market.

Under the agreement, the VIT Group not only took over all of Eastman Software's existing contracts, which included upwards of 30,000 seats, but it also hired on 24 Eastman sales and technical employees to help serve and support those contracts.

"It simply made sense," said Larry Den, vice president of the VIT Group. "These people are a major asset to us. They know the market, they know the customers and just as importantly, they know the software."

But Eastman Software appears to be just as interested in the VIT Group's knowledge base. VIT Group will handle all first- and second-tier support calls from federal customers, for example. The integrator also will serve as the preferred resale channel into the federal government for Eastman Software products.

What may be the most significant and trendsetting aspect of the new partnership, however, is that VIT Group actually will have a seat at the table, delivering feedback from the federal customer base when the company discusses required new functionality in upgrading existing and developing new enterprise products.

"We'll actually get a chance to be a voice for the needs of federal customers," states Jorge Diaz, director of sales and marketing for VIT Group, who noted that in the wake of the Y2K computer bug crisis, federal agencies are increasingly committed to solving productivity problems associated with paper-based information.

"This fact alone makes us a true partner, rather than just a reseller or solutions provider," he said.

Both companies appear to be happy with the arrangement, describing it as the proverbial win-win situation. Eastman Software cherishes the chance to focus on its core competency in software development, while expressing confidence in a solutions-oriented partner that it hopes will deepen its presence and sensitivity to the federal market.

For Vredenburg, which established the VIT Group last year to concentrate on enterprise-level business, the new deal offers the obvious benefit of being able to step into more than a dozen well-established task order contracts.

"This relationship takes the VIT Group to the next level faster than we could have built the organization ourselves," Den said.

? Heather Hayes

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