Localisation is the key to the success of multinational firms operating in Asia, according to Baan Co's president for the Asian region, Christopher Chung. Both Baan and Mr Chung, a Chinese national, are good examples of this policy. For Baan, the Netherlands-based maker of enterprise-resource planning (ERP) software, Mr Chung oversees a staff of 400 for Asia, including Japan and India. Most are hired locally. Regional revenues have grown tenfold since it opened its first regional office in Singapore in 1995. Baan is best known for its ERP software - mostly used by big manufacturers to integrate their accounting and inventory management. Acer uses Baan software in Taiwan for PC production. Mr Chung said Baan's strength, compared with rivals such as market leader SAP, SSA, Oracle, and PeopleSoft, was its ability to teach new customers how to quickly assimilate the Baan IV software into the way the company did business, to improve efficiency and cut costs. Baan typically earns US$15 to $20 million per larger client. It woos seven out of 10 of its customers through direct sales. The company plans to branch out to sell to small to medium-sized corporations, which it defines as having between $20 million and $250 million in annual revenue. Mr Chung planned to use resellers, because they would have the necessary expertise to serve these smaller accounts, he said. He described them as 'hybrid, agile manufacturers with skills that are not that industry-specific'. Mr Chung said it would start this 'Baan Backbone' programme in Southeast Asia this year, where it would have less impact on Baan's business if problems arose. The 47-year-old Hong Kong native dismissed the possibility of Baan's sales staff colliding with its channel partners. 'It's a matter of how you manage the channel.' Mr Chung has plenty of experience in this arena. He has held senior management positions across Asia, including in Taiwan for NCR, where he worked for 12 years, and software maker QAD, where he was managing director before joining Baan. Baan focused on supply-chain management, while PeopleSoft was focused on human resources, he said. Mr Chung acknowledged SAP was still the leader, but Baan hoped to catch up with new software and marry back-office functions like accounting and inventory with front-office capabilities like sales, so firms could better realise economies of scale.