FinancialForce ERP—New Player in Cloud ERP Market




With recent acquisitions of Vana Workforce and Less Software announced during the Dreamforce 2013 conference, which resulted in the addition of FinancialForce Human Capital Management (HCM) and FinancialForce Supply Chain Management (SCM) to FinancialForce.com's product portfolio, FinancialForce.com has not surprisingly set its eyes on becoming a leading cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) provider, using the Salesforce1 Platform (see Figure 1). Founded in 2009, FinancialForce.com is the combined effort of two leaders in their respective fields—UNIT4 and salesforce.com. While salesforce.com is the undisputed leader in cloud customer relationship management (CRM) software and cloud computing platforms, UNIT4 is a $600 million company that has been building ERP applications for 35 years.
 
FinancialForce.com most recently introduced FinancialForce ERP, a unified group of cloud solutions for customer-centric businesses. With this announcement, the company also unveiled its new tagline, “ERP at Customer Speed,” professing a new vision for ERP where businesses are winning and retaining customers by aligning ERP processes around customer touch points, with the goal of creating a unified and informed view of the customer across the entire organization.
 

Figure 1 – FinancialForce.com modules
 
Both new applications share the same cloud platform as the older FinancialForce Accounting, FinancialForce Professional Services Automation (PSA), and Salesforce CRM modules (see TEC’s 2012 article on the company’s early years and capabilities). Together, these standalone applications make FinancialForce ERP, a unified family of cloud solutions offering visibility from front to back office and a single user experience across the enterprise (see Figure 2). Built on the recently enhanced “mobile first” Salesforce1 platform (salesforce.com’s development partners no longer have to worry about handling different versions of mobile operating systems), FinancialForce ERP connects customers, employees, partners, and products into a single system. Customers using both Salesforce CRM and FinancialForce ERP can take advantage of cross-departmental reporting, analytics, workflow, and collaborative capabilities, including the renowned Salesforce1 Chatter enterprise social network (ESN).
 

Figure 2 – FinancialForce.com ERP-CRM Cycle
 
Going Global
 
In fiscal 2013, FinancialForce.com grew its revenue run rate by 80 percent year-over-year, touting new customer wins such as Seagate, iSoftStone, and Mainline Information Systems. The company reported that its global headcount has grown by 62 percent year-on-year, from 150 employees at the end of fiscal 2012 to more than 250 at the end of fiscal 2013. As a result, FinancialForce.com has significantly expanded its San Francisco and U.K. offices to accommodate the rapid growth and has formally opened an office in Toronto, Canada. It is becoming a global company with several hundred customers around the world and offices in San Francisco and New Hampshire in the U.S.; Toronto, Canada; Manchester and Harrogate, England; and Granada, Spain.
 
FinancialForce.com, with the use of the Salesforce1 platform, has been able to build the FinancialForce ERP application around a customer’s journey rather than departments or the internal-facing approach of the past. Traditional ERP systems are anti-social and transaction oriented, and lack visibility to the conversations surrounding a customer or transaction. And yet, thoughts, feelings, and personal interactions are key to personalizing the customer experience. Via the built-in Salesforce1 Platform’s capabilities, FinancialForce ERP allows contextually relevant conversations to be tracked alongside transactions, accounts, reports, or other objects. Conversations traditionally lost in a sea of emails can be attached to any business activity and are now helping to put more context around a cold transaction. As a result, employees should be able to better understand the customer and each other.
 
The aforementioned capabilities should allow FinancialForce.com to increase process efficiency and eliminate the barriers between its customers and their customers as well as the walls between departments. The result should be a cloud ERP system that helps clients grow both the top and bottom line. With its current set of capabilities FinancialForce ERP seems to be on par with NetSuite and Acumatica’s cloud ERP and CRM offerings. For more complex manufacturing needs, FinancialForce.com has an established partnership with Rootstock Software, which can make it competitive with Kenandy, Plex, Microsoft Dynamics, Epicor, and other manufacturing-oriented cloud ERP systems.
 

Figure 3 – FinancialForce ERP Layers
 
If and when required, FinancialForce.com can be enhanced via salesforce.com’s AppExchange ecosystem solutions (see Figure 3). It remains to be seen how competitive price-wise the vendor will be versus its aforementioned likely competitors. Salesforce CRM is not cheap to start with, and when you count in a number of add-on AppExchange solutions, the total subscription price can easily add up to more than what the customer bargained for. Another issue could be FinancialForce.com’s brand recognition in manufacturing, given its traditional strength in service industries. But in any case, the aforementioned cloud ERP competitors will from now on have to reckon with increasing competition from FinancialForce ERP.
 
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