In early 2011 Grant acquired the business outright.
New software versions are released yearly, though 'simplicity' is our mantra when considering enhancements - we are careful not to compromise the core for the sake of a few puzzling “bells and whistles”. Training activity is growing rapidly in content, reach and method. And expansion into vertical industry groups is a new priority whilst we continue growth through our generic distribution channels. CashManager is also fully accessible to the blind and vision impaired (through the use of screen reading software), presenting an exciting growth opportunity on a world stage.
And finally, people often ask "Why the name Accomplish?" Well, it's simple. A-C-C for accounting, and C-O-M-P for computers... all that combined with the very positive meaning of the word 'accomplish'. And isn't that what small business enterprise is all about!
Company founder Peter Busch was working as a practising accountant in Sydney, Australia, in the early 1990's, looking after small business clients. When computers started becoming popular, and accounting programs were developed, Peter, like most other accountants, looked at what was available for his small business clients. But he soon realised that the programs fell into one of two camps. They were all either too simplistic -based around single-entry bookkeeping and of limited use for the accountant - or tried to encompass the whole accounting cycle - fine if an accountant was behind the wheel, but otherwise too complicated for the average business owner who would often end up producing useless end of year data.
Peter decided that what was needed was a program that just focused on the simple parts of bookkeeping - money in/money out and a bank reconciliation - and that also presented data in a form useful for accountants to take the books to the next stage and prepare year-end accounts and tax returns.
So, with a little programming experience and a big desire to fill this niche, Peter developed CashManager under the business enterprise, Accomplish.
Early sales were to Peter's existing clients and clients of colleagues, and feedback was carefully considered, with program modifications and bug fixes being made quickly and frequently. Word of mouth soon added to the user base, with many referrals coming from 'friends of friends of friends'. In its original form, CashManager was a manual in an A5 ring binder, and a program on one floppy disk.
With John Hewson's run for Canberra on the GST ticket in 1992, Peter decided to get a jump on the market and introduce a GST option in CashManager. Having obtained a New Zealand based referral - Gosling Chapman - from a Sydney client, Peter travelled to Auckland to learn about how GST could be incorporated in a simple accounting system.
This meeting went well and Peter received the answers he needed, but it was to be a hastily arranged breakfast meeting with Paul Burge that proved to be the more important part of the visit. Paul shared Peter's vision for simplicity in small business accountancy, and saw a place for CashManager amongst the other software packages he was marketing to New Zealand accounting firms. Paul took on the New Zealand distribution and support, and purchased what was Accomplish's biggest single order at the time - 30 systems. Peter also quickly added export formats for all major New Zealand client accounting packages used by Chartered Accountants in public practice.
In early 1992, Peter decided to take CashManager to the broader marketplace in Australia, and took a booth at the PC Expo at Sydney's Darling Harbour. With nearly 20,000 visitors to the show over 4 days, the software received good exposure. However, the aim was not so much to promote to end users (though there were plenty of prospects there), but to demonstrate the benefits to accountants, and many of Accomplish's best and longer standing accounting firm clients were introduced this way.
This approach became the hallmark of Accomplish's market strategy from then on - promote the package and its benefits to the accounting profession, and those who see the benefits will be able to refer it on to their clients. This same approach was used in New Zealand, and even today remains a significant plank in the group's overall marketing strategy.
In 1993, Tony Christiansen joined Peter in the business as a full partner, and for the next few years, the company doubled its turnover annually. Tony's background was as a commercial accountant in small to medium businesses, but had received good exposure to different accounting software over many years. He and Peter shared most aspects of company management, and like all small businesses in their formative years, spent time on all facets of company operations - sales, support, marketing and administration.
About this time, more products were added to the Accomplish range, with the introduction of AccountManager, CreditManager and PayManager to manage debtors, creditors and payroll respectively. These programs were nowhere near as popular as CashManager, but they did fill out the range, providing a one-stop shop for accountants when referring clients.
Meanwhile, back in New Zealand, with Paul Burge's tenacious marketing skills and the New Zealand accounting profession's appetite for a package like CashManager, it wasn't long before CashManager became the principal product within Paul's business and by 1995 he had a team of five selling and supporting CashManager across the length and breadth of New Zealand.
Accomplish's philosophy of simplicity rather than bells and whistles meant that we could stay away from the 'bleeding edge' of software development and let others dive into new technology and make mistakes first. However, by 1995, the juggernaut known as Microsoft Windows was taking over the world, and Accomplish decided it was time to convert CashManager from DOS to Windows. Tony became the Windows programmer and spent the next 18 months making CashManager for Windows ready for the marketplace. CashManager for Windows was eventually released in late 1997.
About this time, Peter decided that the simplicity approach employed in CashManager might also translate well in the literary market, and penned a small business help book: Starting and Running a Small Business in Australia. This was picked up by publishers McGraw Hill Australia, and sold 3,000 copies, becoming their second top seller in the non-fiction market for 1997.
By 1998, Accomplish employed 4 people in Australia, with Paul Burge's operation employing a further 8 in New Zealand. In June of that year, Peter decided it was time to move on, and Tony took over the ownership and management of the company.
The period to 2000 saw more staff added to Accomplish. It also saw the development of simple customer and supplier invoicing functionality in CashManager, and also the development of a Windows-based version of PayManager, the standalone payroll package.
The year 2000 also saw the introduction of GST to Australia. This encouraged a lot of small businesses to adopt a computerised accounting system for the first time, and Accomplish experienced a huge spike in sales, and hence its user base. In addition, the federal government had offered a subsidy of $200 for every small business to prepare for the GST requirements, and much of Accomplish's revenue for those few months came in the form of government vouchers.
A year later, in New Zealand, Paul Burge decided that in order to firm up the future of his business, he needed to secure ownership of the software. He and Tony negotiated a buy-out for 1 July 2001. This involved moving the entire operation to Burge Business Services' Auckland headquarters. Incoming phone calls were redirected to Auckland, a mail pick-up and drop-off service between Auckland and Sydney was arranged, and in a very short space of time, it was business as usual for Australia users. Through Burge's 'Awesome Support' policy, and experience in the New Zealand market for 8 years, Australia users barely noticed a blip in the service level.
The transition was also helped by the fact that the New Zealand operation adopted the Accomplish name and brand, the name still used across all our markets today.
During the business transfer, Peter was retained to assist with the integration of the Australia operations, and became a vital member of the team, spending much time in Auckland. Peter's ongoing role was to oversee CashManager development (Tony was retained as a contract programmer), and later to develop and manage the company's customer database, a highly customised program used for marketing and for user administration and support management.
Controlling both Australia and New Zealand from the one office led to economies of scale. Whereas previously there was almost total duplication in sales, administration and support effort in each country, now it became centralised. The Auckland office had to open longer hours to support multiple time zones, and it was soon able to offer a 13 hour window to all users.
This overnight growth also saw the need for the company to move into new offices in Auckland.
With Paul Burge's desire to move back from the business, in 2005 he employed Grant Hewson, an Australian expatriate, as general manager. Under Grant's stewardship, the company has broadened its horizons by moving into new areas geographically including the Unites States, adding a training division to the company, and conducting a significant brand repositioning exercise.