FinancialForce.com Offers New Collaborative Capabilities in Accounting Software
Do finance professionals want to collaborate? FinancialForce.com is betting on it, by adding social features to the latest update of its accounting software.
FinancialForce.com has a strong association with Salesforce.com, thanks to the fact that Salesforce is an investor in the company and FinancialForce.com applications are all built natively on Salesforce's Force.com cloud development platform. Many FinancialForce customers are also Salesforce customers.
Yet FinancialForce's biggest customer, with 5,000-plus users, does not use Salesforce. Ditto for its second-largest customer in terms of revenue. FinancialForce does, however, win customers with an approach modeled on one used by Salesforce.
"We've designed our apps so they are something companies can grow into. We don’t want to have to attack what is already there and force customers to do a rip-and-replace to add value," explained FinancialForce CEO Jeremy Roche. "We're looking for opportunities in the ERP space that are similar to the kinds of opportunities Salesforce looked for in the CRM space. Of course it's not as easy to get an accounting team to purchase an app using a credit card the same way a sales team might."
Like Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, Roche also feels strongly that companies increasingly want their applications to contain built-in collaborative capabilities – even in areas such as ERP software, which traditionally has had a transaction-heavy focus. FinancialForce included social reporting features in the latest updates of both its Accounting and Professional Services Automation (PSA) software, released this week.
FinancialForce Reporting is a set of tools purpose-built for financial reporting, including customizable templates, point-and-click definition creation and the ability to report on any Force.com object, which enables users to combine financial and CRM operational metrics such as cost per lead. To encourage collaboration, FinancialForce Reporting allows users to import, export and share report templates with other users – inside or outside a company.
The stereotypical image of a solo accountant huddled in a cubicle notwithstanding, Roche said his company's customers contributed to the effort to create the report templates included in the Accounting software update. To capitalize on this collaborative spirit, FinancialForce.com plans to introduce a ReportExchange community where FinancialForce.com customers can share the templates they create.
As proof of the growing interest in enterprise collaboration, Roche said many FinancialForce customers have been eager to adopt Salesforce.com's Chatter in combination with his company's apps. "We've got some great examples of customers using that," he said. "Accounting departments have picked it up and run with it."
FinancialForce's refresh of its PSA application also incorporates the Reporting tools along with a task management system that enables companies to securely share project and task information with partners and customers via a community portal.
FinancialForce is also following Salesforce's lead in making it possible for administrators and even savvy business users to perform some integration tasks once reserved for developers. Both the Accounting and PSA apps – and all FinancialForce.com apps moving forward, according to Roche – include a feature called ClickLink, which allows users to easily link FinancialForce apps with other apps built on the Force.com platform with no coding required.
Because many project team members want to collaborate with others via their mobile devices, the PSA update includes an app called Timecards for Android, which allows users to enter time cards and view assignments on their Android devices. Salesforce Chatter is embedded into the application, so project teams can post to a centralized project wall. Timecards for Android joins an existing Timecards app for devices running Apple's iOS.