For SMEs, choosing the right software can be as important as finding the right location, ERP provider Netforce aims to make this both affordable and accessible.
Software is supposed to make doing business easier, but sometimes it’s not so easy to discover the right software for your business. At least that’s the view of Roby Janssens, the director of Enterprise Resource Planning [ERP] software solutions provider Netforce.
“I always wanted to have a software which was suitable for this part of the region, for SME companies,” he says, adding that Thailand has very specific requirements for tax reports.
Four years ago, the Belgian national, who has lived in Thailand for around a dozen years, established Netforce to provide the software that his son David develop. Although the software is available as a Cloud application, it can also be run on a local server.
While large companies might be able to pay for bespoke software, Thailand’s SMEs require easy-to-use systems that don’t break the bank. That’s where Netforce comes in.
“The basic idea was to make a software that was affordable to SME companies,” explains Janssens, adding that around 90% of Thai companies are SMEs. “A lot of those companies don’t even use ERP software, they use Excel or Word.”
Netforce started with a simple accountancy module, but now has “everything you can imagine in a business,” says Janssens.
Not only is there no expensive development costs, but regular updates allow Netforce to pass on the benefits of its continuous development to clients. “Whenever we get a generic solution [to a problem] we actually put that in the standard software,” Janssens says.
The business model has proved successful, with Netforce having over 1,000 users, for its packages that are now available in nine languages. As the bandwidth required to run it is small, you can even access it in countries, such as Myanmar.
One benefit of the Cloud system, according to Janssens, is that it is much less likely to be hacked than if stored on an individual business’ server, as Netforce stores the information on major, safeguarded servers in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Indeed, Janssens believes that Cloud storage allows greater flexibility. “There are so many opportunities if it is online,” he says. “You can use your phone to connect to your accounting software, because our software is responsive. So I can look at a profit and loss report on my phone anywhere in the world.”
Like many foreign businesspeople in Thailand, Janssens is looking forward to the advent of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of the year. “The AEC will be positive for us,” he says. “In the AEC there is so much pressure on companies to improve their efficiency.”
Janssens welcomes the Thai government’s move to provide ICT training for 12,000 SMEs by the end of the year, which he believes will create greater opportunities for the company.
“The government is pushing SME companies to improve their use of technology in business,” he says. “They really want to support SMEs, and that was in our mind when we created Netforce.”
Words by Mark Bibby Jackson