Last week I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Exact America team. Exact has been pretty quiet the last couple of years, so in case you aren’t familiar with the company, here’s a quick summary:
Exact America provides business solutions (think extended ERP) for Manufacturing/Distribution small to midsize businesses (SMBs). Its parent, Exact is a Dutch company that has been around since 1984 when it was started by a few students in a garage. As a result Exact has always related to and served entrepreneurial businesses, and these often start out very small. In fact the Americas team targets SMBs with 2 to 250 employees. They do that with 4 different product lines:
- Exact Globe is an ERP for project-based manufacturers, distributors and service providers. It includes Integrated Financials/Business management software, as well as Web-based field project management, integrated with project accounting. Also sold by Exact worldwide, it includes support for multiple legislations, language and multicurrency for international sites.
- Exact Macola comes in two flavors: Exact Manufacturing Pro (for manufacturers requiring full shop floor control) and Distribution Pro (for light manufacturers, distributors and service providers). Both versions offer eCommerce, payroll and warehouse management as well.
- Exact JobBOSS is packaged as management software for job shops, make-to-order and contract manufacturers. It provides these small “to order” shops with the ability to quote jobs, track labor and material, and control shipping, invoicing and job-costing processes.
- Exact MAX reaches down into the small business sector as a Material Requirements Planning (MRP) add-on, to be run in conjunction with Microsoft Dynamics GP and QuickBooks or QuickBooks Enterprise Solution. Exact MAX targets regulated discrete manufacturing companies in segments such as medical devices and aerospace, with its serial and lot tracing capabilities.
But there is also another very “horizontal” Exact product offering, known as Synergy. It had been quite awhile since I had last gotten a briefing from Exact and in fact, at the time (maybe 2007-2008 perhaps?) Synergy was the center point of discussion. Even back then Synergy was kind of hard to categorize. I remember walking out of the briefing thinking I wish I had it as a tool to manage my research projects. But it managed projects without being a project management application. It could also do customer relationship management, but it wasn’t CRM. When asked what Synergy did, Exact would likely respond with, “What do you want it to do?”
That made it very flexible, but I suspect it also made it very hard to market. And something that is hard to market is also usually hard to sell. In reality, Synergy was being sold as a tool. And SMBs tend not to buy tools. They prefer to buy business applications that solve specific problems.
So now Exact is taking a different approach. In fact I would characterize this and much of what they have been doing the last couple of years as “re-packaging.” For example, a Total Quality Management offering was recently released as part of a JobBOSS update, and a CRM template is available for Macola users. Expect some big announcements in the near future regarding this with the outcome being the transformation of Synergy from a tool into an application. Other re-packaging efforts include the two Macola products noted above: Macola Manufacturing Pro and Distribution Pr. Macola used to be sold as individual modules, with configurations tailored for each prospect or customer and priced accordingly. Now those same modules are available as two different “bundles” and the pricing complexity has been shrunk down to an all-inclusive per user price. Ultimately this makes the pricing and selling much simpler. Exact has also added a Quick Start program to make installation and implementation easier. And Macola is available “on demand” in a hosted environment, allowing customers who don’t want the burden of infrastructure on site to take advantage of a cloud deployment.
These changes were all made with customer satisfaction in mind. Exact is not setting out to position itself as the best bleeding-edge technological solution, but rather as the most trusted solution provider. Recognizing that a satisfied customer is not enough to guarantee customer references or retention, Exact’s goal is to create “extremely satisfied” customers and to become the customer’s trusted advisor. With a very long track record in the markets they serve, and a good stable of long-time, customers, loyalty and referrals are the ultimate goal.