RealTime IT News

Answerthink Jumps into SAP Reselling

IT consulting firm Answerthink has become an official reseller of SAP's enterprise software now that it has purchased the business lines from fellow consultancy Condor Technology Solutions.

The sale, which was valued at about $1 million in cash plus liabilities, puts Answerthink in the business of selling SAP enterprise resource planning software and product lines to mid-sized business in key Northeast markets. They include New Jersey, Connecticut, greater New York City and Philadelphia.

As an official reseller of the German enterprise software company SAP's products, Answerthink is looking for a leg-up as it increasingly competes with much larger IT consultancies such as KPMG, Accenture, and PwC, which is now owned by IBM.

The next step as an SAP reseller, Answerthink officials said, is to leverage its own vast best practices database owned by its consulting subsidiary The Hackett Group. The database is a major repository of best industry practice metrics and benchmarking for a number of industry verticals, such as finance and health care.

With the purchase of the SAP business lines as a reseller, Answerthink is planning to offer business customers The Hackett Group's database integrated with major installations of SAP software for functions such as finance and accounting controls or human resources management.

The Answerthink announcement comes amid a sluggish marketplace for new IT contracts, which has increased the pressure on smaller IT firms looking for niches to differentiate themselves from the so-called "Big Five" IT consultancies.

As enterprise customers big and small continue to sort through and work out their excess investments in IT technology left over from the dot-com bubble, integration of key systems across their varied departments remains a common problem for chief information officers.

Answerthink, which has offices in New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland, in addition to its base in Miami, is increasingly moving to chip out a piece of the mid-sized market for such integration work by packaging it with a database of business process benchmarks from more than 2000 companies around the globe.

The company's plan is to leverage its new reseller relationship with SAP by baking its best practices metrics into the SAP products, as well as other major enterprise software providers. As a result, clients would have guidance on how major competitors are using the software tools they've just installed. Answerthink also plans to expand its in-house software maintenance and help desk support for clients running SAP enterprise applications.

The five-year-old Answerthink, which has remade itself from its origins as an interactive consultancy, is staking a lot of future business on the best practices database it inherited when it acquired The Hackett Group. The firm is about to announce the introduction of a new "business process intelligence" approach, which increasingly leverages The Hackett Group best practices and benchmarking database. The new BPI product focuses on helping customers integrate their return on investment calculations across a number of functions such as data warehouses, business applications and knowledge management systems.

The purchase of Condor's SAP reseller business lines builds on a prior deal the two firms struck in 2001, in which Answerthink acquired Condor's consulting services business lines that focused on installing SAP for clients.

The news of Answerthink's purchase of the SAP reseller business came on the same day that SAP announced a purchase of German e-procurement services firm, Emaro, which SAP plans to use in its application hosting division.