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In Business With eZ Systems: Being an eZ Partner

In this article, we will share our experience on building a successful partnership with eZ Systems. We will discuss our close cooperation with eZ and what being a part of the eZ Ecosystem means for our business.

A bit of history

Nexus Consulting was founded in 2002 as an IT company with the idea of making our own Content Management System (CMS). After one year of work, we were unable to make sound profit with our strategy of both developing a CMS and delivering customer solutions. We thought to ourselves: "There must be an easier way of doing what we do. Why can't we buy a standard solution and customize it for our customers?"

At the time, one of the co-owners of Nexus Consulting was attending the same business school as Alexander Farstad, the CEO of eZ Systems. We decided to test eZ Publish on a large project - the Nexus Study Guide. This is a system for organizing, editing and publishing information about a university's education offerings. We were very happy with eZ Publish and the flexibility of its template language. For us, it was important to find a solid framework within the Open Source market without taking too big a risk. It was a crucial factor that the solution was backed by a solid company.

Today, eZ Systems provides all the guarantees and second-line support required by our customers. This enables us to deliver faster and better throughout the entire life cycle of a solution.

When Nexus Consulting first joined the eZ Partner Program, we couldn't afford our own marketing department. The eZ Partner Program gave us access to the online Partner Knowledge Centre, where we could download and use presentation material, product sheets and training material, and receive support in sales and technical pre-sales.

Sales support is an important part of the partner program. After each customer meeting, we report our potential business in the Knowledge Centre. This way, the eZ crew knows what we are doing, which customers we are speaking with and what we need from them in order to be successful. A trusting relationship like this makes it possible to exchange customer leads, opportunities with other partners or simply signed projects. The number of leads and opportunities you get depends on the level of "Trust and Competence" you have built with eZ, as illustrated below.

Levels of trust and competence

The triangle on the right illustrates the different partner levels (with the Reference level being a non-partner who uses eZ Publish). These represent the level of involvement that the partner has with eZ. The triangle on the left shows how partners move through openness, to sharing, to innovation, by being more closely involved with eZ.

In our case, a lead or an opportunity with a potential partner has proven to be just as valuable as a signed project. Thus, our close cooperation with eZ crew contacts has introduced us to several new eZ Partners. These partners provide expertise that is complementary to our business.

eZ Systems has also been assisting us in partner presentations within the ERP business in Norway. eZ has arranged meetings and literally brought partners and customers to our table. With the backing of a company like eZ, this has provided us with larger projects and less risk, giving us more profit and higher margins. eZ's automatic software maintenance service also makes solutions easy to deliver and provides us with a subscription-based revenue stream.

In the early days of Nexus Consulting, we wanted to make our own software and be able to make someone else's day easier through our innovation. Today, eZ Publish is not only an enterprise CMS, but also a solid framework for development within our business. We use this framework to make specialized software for our verticals.

For example, the ERP business has used this model for several years. The specialized software is sold as an extension to eZ Publish. This means that the eZ Publish kernel remains intact, as the extension is built on top of the system. This is one of the features that make eZ Publish such a powerful tool.

A good example of innovation and partnership is the relationship we have with eZ Systems and another eZ Partner, Silver Solutions from Germany. Silver Solutions made a web connector for Microsoft Dynamics NAV (an ERP solution), and we did two projects using this extension in late 2004. When eZ saw how this could interact with eZ Publish, they arranged a meeting for us with one of Norway's largest Microsoft Dynamics Nav vendors, Hands ASA.

We then made a presentation on how eZ Publish could interact with Microsoft Dynamics Nav (using the web connector) and the people at Hands were impressed. We signed a partnership with them in the autumn of 2005. We now work together with eZ to make new relations with other partners in the ERP community and to explore what other integrations we can make.

Since we became an eZ Partner in late 2002, our business has experienced steady growth and our organization has tripled in size. The table and chart below illustrate this growth:

Year 2006 (est) 2005 2004 2003
Sales revenue 4 100 000 NOK 3 178 666 NOK 2 221 303 NOK 951 462 NOK
Operating profit 950 000 NOK 795 791 NOK 440 892 NOK - 26 282 NOK
Equity 1 300 000 NOK 992 999 NOK 647 208 NOK 206 316 NOK

Nexus Consulting growth

eZ Systems wants you to be successful because if you are successful, they are as well. Once you join as a partner, eZ Systems will help you and back you up, sometimes even handing you signed contracts!

If you have any questions regarding this article or would like to learn more about Nexus Consulting, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to talk with you about Nexus Consulting, eZ Systems, the eZ Ecosystem or the eZ Partner Program.

For information about Nexus project references, see http://ez.no/partner/worldwide_ez_publish_partners/nexus_consulting_as.