The Qualitop software enables field agents to work with customers completely independently, while maintaining real-time communications with the office and interface with company systems, using the affordable and easily accessible Palm devices. Dror Shiryon knows that many of the concepts behind new software come as a result of hours tinkering in a computer laboratory. His experience is different. The CEO of Israeli technology company Qualitop emphasizes that his idea came from hard-won experience as a salesman in the field.

As the owner of a commercial companies involved in areas such as selling car accessories, he knew too well about the communications problems that existed between the salesmen and agents out in the field dealing with customers and the home office.

“There’s the logistical difficulty of getting orders placed quickly, of trying to clarify what stock is available, trying to answer customer questions in a timely fashion, and continually getting frustrated with reaching voicemail and getting busy signals on the telephone,” Shiryon told ISRAEL21c.

Large companies can afford to invest in specially manufactured and customized computer devices for its agents in the field – but what of the smaller companies?

Back in 1999, Shiryon and his partner Menahem Shapira saw the potential to help small and midsize businesses improve their communications with their field operations by harnessing the newest hot product in the electronics market: handheld palmsize computers.

They formed Qualitop in 2000, just as devices like the Palm Pilot began to truly penetrate the market, with the idea of developing propriety software for companies to manage field agents. The software is based on PalmSource operating systems.

Now that they are successful and well-established in Israel, Qualitop is ready to take their product to the United States. Qualitop is shopping for strategic partners with expertise in the American market and investors “to give us the financial backbone we need to move into this market and to allow us to continue to develop and improved our product,” Shiryon says.

The Qualitop software enables field agents to work with customers completely independently, while maintaining real-time communications with the office and interface with company systems, using the affordable and easily accessible Palm devices.

Shiryon’s early sense that the market was wide open for this type of product in Israel proved correct. The demand was so intense for what they were offering that they began selling software even as they were still developing it.

Their flagship product HandySell, has a simple user-friendly interface that can be customized for different companies. Shiryon told the financial daily Globes that his product’s advantage over competitors is the speed and efficiency of software and ability to interface with office software already on the market. Shapira and Shiryon invented a method that can synchronize 40,000 entries within minutes, compared with the up to two hours needed by other systems to carry out the same-sized task.

Another advantage of the product is the adaptability. HandySell can work with all accountancy software currently on the market, as well as with inventory management, personnel, and many other types of software. HandySell can also encode information intended for specific agents, and prevent other agents from accessing it, and it enables every vendor to know the customer’s situation, history, and fulfilled orders in real time, as well as providing answers to any question from the customer, without the need to call the office and waste expensive time. The agent can also issue bills, orders and other documents in the field, printing in Hebrew on regular A4 paper using a mobile printer operated with infrared connectivity.

The company views itself as offering its customers “a comprehensive basket of solutions, from which they can assemble a suitable solution for your business, in accordance with their needs.”

These solutions include a number of additional programs to provide comprehensive solutions for agent management, including HandyBar, designed for PalmOne devices, which read barcodes and scan them for orders, inventory counts, and warehouse management; HandyShow, which supports images for mobile computers, in order to present accounts and inventory data; and HandyMan, designed for managers and businesspeople, which provides real-time information about cash flow, up-to-date sales, inventories, and accounts receivable.

Shiryon and Shapira are optimistic about their prospects abroad. “Amazingly,” Shiryon told Globes, “proprietary software for managing field agents has not reached many markets in the world, and there’s work to be done there. The system has been translated into English, and is more advanced than systems now operating in the field.”

He says that nearly every business he has shown the product to “has been excited by its possibilities” and that nearly every customer reports that the product “has saved them time and money.” The customers include major companies in Israel, such as wireless service powerhouses Pelephone, Cellcom, and Orange.

Shiryon, who does not have a formal background in computers or software development is a self-taught Renaissance entrepreneur from Herziliya, who, in addition to running Qualitop, continues to maintain his other businesses. Among his unusual pastimes is raising parrots.

“My house is something of a menagerie,” he confesses.