A Q&A chat with a seasoned ERP expert
Partners have always been the backbone of Sage operations, working directly with our common customers, adding invaluable services, support, and complementary solutions. In this, the first in a series, we speak with one of our partners, Joe Noll, president of RKL Solutions, to shed light on the ERP industry and discover what motivates, what challenges, and what inspires his career and his company. But first, let’s meet Joe Noll and set the stage for our story.
In the late 1990s, Joe was working as the IT director for a manufacturing and distribution company. When the company was sold, the change in ownership prompted him to make his own life change. He and a friend had been doing computer coding work for another client after hours, and decided they wanted to make software development a full-time job. In 2001, the pair established an IT division within a small regional accounting firm, Kuntz Lesher LLP, and then launched the separate entity RKL eSolutions LLC in 2007. The accounting firm has gone through various iterations of growth and name changes, and today is part of a larger regional accounting firm, Reinsel Kuntz Lesher LLP. Joe remains a partner in the firm with his focus on the RKL eSolutions LLC entity.
Since its inception, RKL eSolutions started with – and retains – a single mission: to enrich the lives of its clients, its team, and its communities through a genuine focus on bringing value and solutions.
Why did you decide to become an authorized provider for Sage?
We became a Sage Partner in the late 1990s because of the product functionality and reputation, ability to customize or extend the product, and partner-friendly program.
As new prospects come to your firm seeking a new business management solution, how are their stated challenges and system requirements different than prospects of five years ago?
Today, prospects’ expectations center around ease of use, open API, ability to interface, device agnostic operation, options for installation, and tools to continue to make the system extensible.
How do you go about demonstrating that you can meet those challenges?
We are able to differentiate ourselves by demonstrating that we have the real world skills to be able to talk about and help solve the challenges prospects are facing within their business. Prospects already assume we know the product – what they want is someone to understand the intricacies of business operations including financials, inventory, distribution, manufacturing, shop floor, logistics, shipping, field service, point of sale, and eCommerce. That is why we are first a customer service company that just happens to represent Sage products. Customer service is what we lead with – not the product.
What are the biggest opportunities you see in selling into the ERP marketplace currently? The biggest challenges?
One big opportunity for us is that we believe in the products we sell, and in our team’s ability to meet our client’s business challenges. Smarter buyers, with more expectations are also a strategic opportunity for us, as we have the knowledge and experience to talk with these folks.
One challenge has been Sage brand recognition, although this is getting better. Competition is an ongoing challenge, as more and more firms are entering the market. Like many companies, we are often challenged to find quality leads.
How has the Internet of Things changed the way you – and your clients – do business? Are all the changes positive?
The Cloud (Internet) is not a new thing. I started in this industry with Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in the mid-1980s. Back then, EDS had already been hosting its applications on mainframe for years. So while the Internet of Things concept everyone keeps talking about has new features and functionality, the concept of having applications interconnected while being installed remotely – is something I have been involved with for 30 years.
We bring experience – not just mine, but that of our entire team – to provide real-world solutions for our customers. We strive to provide solutions without limitations. And the tools to deliver these solutions continue to expand in functionality. The greater bandwidth options that exist today have also made this more feasible.
If you were stranded on an island, who is the one person you’d want to be stranded with and why?
I would definitely pick my wife Shelby. She has been so supportive of all the chances I have taken over the years, and the challenges we faced in our growth. She is my sounding board, my sanity check for new ideas, and my confidant.