FinancialForce Gets its Mojo Back

Service Performance Insight coverage of 2019 Community Live May 7-9th

Community Live Las Vegas showcased “Business Accelerated” with an emphasis on the change management side of digital transformation. Now three years into his tenure as CEO, Tod Nielsen; Chief Product Officer, Dan Brown; and Andrea Lagan, Chief Operating Officer seem to be hitting their stride. 

Most notable is the predictable and well-thought out product roadmap with new product releases coming twice a year in April and October.  Over the past year, 102 new product releases have contributed to a 92% customer renewal rate. Clearly FinancialForce is taking full advantage of their unique position as the largest independent application provider 100% built on the Salesforce Force platform. 

FinancialForce’s new mission statement says it all, “FinancialForce delivers the #1 professional services automation (PSA) and the only customer-centric ERP.  We accelerate business value with comprehensive best practices and the most intelligent analytics – all on the leading business cloud platform from Salesforce.”

FinancialForce has hit it out of the ballpark with its use of Einstein-powered AI and Data Analytics by providing pre-configured PSA and ERP dashboards.  Unlike other vendors who hype the power of AI to transform business, FinancialForce has actually made AI work.  Customers will be able to replace their legacy analytics and reporting solutions easily and inexpensively with Einstein without needing an army of impossible to find data scientists to pull it off.

Equally important is FinancialForce’s recognition that customers are no longer looking for a toolkit.  They want predefined workflows, best practices, rapid implementation and reusable templates to shorten their time to value.  All of this and more is embodied in the new Accelerate application delivery platform with a comprehensive set of best practices for the implementation, configuration, and use of FinancialForce solutions.

Growth is Accelerating

It has taken a while for FinancialForce to get its mojo back since the new guard took the helm.   Building maturity into people, processes and systems is not an easy task, especially since sales and marketing have been unpredictable. The company grew to $100M in 2017, only 8 years after it was founded, and then stalled.  Growth has now returned with best-ever Q4 performance propelling the company to record revenues.  FinancialForce added 307 new customers in the last 12 months with 200 of them going live including big names like Dell, Amazon Web Services and Google. 

Refreshingly, the conference was dominated by enthusiastic and happy customers, all of whom chose FinancialForce because they were committed to the Salesforce ecosystem and wanted to take full advantage of the power of the Force platform.  They raved about the value of the 360-degree visibility they get with the combination of Salesforce CRM and FinancialForce PSA and ERP.  It’s not a case of integration, as these applications are all purpose built on the same platform.  No complex integration is necessary, no relearning, or having to rewrite user interfaces. FinancialForce applications simply appear as new tabs on the Salesforce platform.  Even better, this means FinancialForce is able to almost immediately take advantage of the technology goodies that Salesforce produces in abundance – like the Lightning User Interface and Einstein Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence.

Industry Recognition

The press and analyst community are recognizing FinancialForce as “the most adopted” and “PSA in the services world through leading benchmarks from G2, TSIA and Service Performance Insight, LLC.   

Even more impressive is the value that FinancialForce is bringing to its clients.  FinancialForce clients are growing faster, adding more headcount and driving more revenue per consultant compared to other vendor’s PSA clients. Best of all, FinancialForce PSA customers achieved some of the best net profit in the 2019 PS Maturity™ benchmark of 622 service-oriented organizations.

And the good news does not stop there, as FinancialForce is doing a good job of capturing Salesforce-loyal ERP customers.  Fully 50% of FinancialForce PSA customers have now also adopted FinancialForce ERP according to the 2019 PS Maturity™ benchmark survey.

Einstein Reporting and Analytics

Best of show goes to FinancialForce’s new advanced analytics for PSA and Financial Management using Salesforce Einstein Analytics.  Unlike other vendors who are just starting to experiment with AI-powered analytics, both Salesforce and FinancialForce have created pre-configured dashboards which are delivered out-of-the-box.  This means their clients do not have to hire an army of data scientists to make sense of it all or to make it work.

In the Spring 2019 release, FinancialForce delivered six new Advanced PSA Analytics dashboards powered by Einstein for real-time visibility into the overall organization, utilization, capacity, backlog, forecasting, billings and total project margin.  Einstein Analytics provides new levels of business insight for sales, orders, service delivery, and financial data across the opportunity-to-revenue lifecycle.

With Einstein Analytics, PSOs can make critical decisions based on actionable data. The application creates personalized dashboards with multiple perspectives by customer, region, practice, and group. Seamless views from a single project to the entire portfolio, make it easy to view, analyze and take smarter actions using business insight.

FinancialForce has plans to extend PSA Analytics into customer feedback and add more forecasting corporate visibility and granularity.  Eventually demand planning, staffing trends, pipeline trends and predictive views by role will be added. 

Accelerate Supports the Entire Customer Lifecycle

FinancialForce has realized that technology is only important if it is used to drive business insight and improvement.  Businesses cannot improve unless they can see problems, understand them and have employees who are empowered to do something about it.  In its early days, significant professional service expertise was required to implement and customize the product, often resulting in lengthy deployments.  With the launch of the Accelerate Application Lifecycle platform, FinancialForce has brought experts from Sales, PS, Customer Support and Product Management together to codify and repurpose best practices and lessons learned from 100s of customer projects.  Taking a page from NetSuite’s SuiteSuccess, the goal is to reduce time to value by at least 50%.  Early adopters have seen their implementation projects shrink from 80 to 40 days. 

The focus is on five stages of a customer’s lifecycle:

  • Evaluation – best practices, simplified pricing and solution architecture
  • Implementation – SmartStart fixed time, fixed fee implementations plus Expert Services for more complex problems, training and healthchecks
  • New customers – preconfigured administrator workspaces, documentation, on-demand training, video tutorials, release materials and the FinancialForce product roadmap
  • Seasoned customers – Healthchecks, Continuous Updates, Customer Advisory Boards and Advocacy
  • Adoption – new MyFinancialForce Customer Portal and Communities to share best practices plus a Premier Success plan to keep informed and escalate issues

Much more work needs to be done but the team appears to be fully committed to support a cross-functional team in more quickly unlocking and productizing the value of FinancialForce.

What’s New in PSA

Clearly FinancialForce has made major strides in articulating a cogent, clear and predictable product roadmap.  Releases now come out on-time with promised functionality.  FinancialForce PSA has no trouble scaling to meet the needs of some of the largest service organizations like HP and Dell.  In the past twelve months PSA functionality has been significantly advanced in the following areas:

  • Data Analytics and Intelligence
    • 6 Einstein-Powered, personalized PSA dashboards
    • Predictive time-series views
  • Enterprise class
    • Interactive revenue forecasting
    • Forecast scheduling enhancements
    • Next-generation Gantt chart integration to facilitate planning to the task level
    • Enhanced resource planning with redesigned filters
  • Productivity enhancements
    • Integration with Concur to facilitate expense management, project profitability analysis and invoicing
    • Enhanced time entry
    • Billing enhancements
    • Enhanced mobile expense entry and management using Salesforce Mobile
    • Project management workspaces incorporating new lightning UI provide insights into projects, key metrics and predictive time series project margin analysis

What’s New in Customer-Centric ERP

Not to be left behind, the spring release of Customer-Centric ERP includes significant new functionality for consolidated billing and collections, new support for mobile expense management, and role-based workspaces with embedded analytics.

Key new features include:

Consolidated Invoicing and Billing 
To support the new services economy with hybrid business models, FinancialForce provides a simplified and consolidated billing engine with support for subscription and usage-based billing.

Collections Workspace and Automation 
New role-based Collections Workspace with embedded analytics helps reduce collection time.

New Mobile Expense App 
New Mobile Expense application built on the Salesforce Mobile platform enables users to capture receipts and related expenses while on the go using any smartphone.

Consolidated Financials and New Financial Analytics Powered by Einstein 
New functionality to aggregate multiple companies and entities with dynamic financial statements, including eliminations and special periods, delivered through a new experience, powered by Einstein, that will further accelerate the financial close process. Along with Financial Statements, the new Financial Analytics powered by Einstein Analytics includes a new User Interface, and filters. New dashboards and KPIs include DSO and a new recurring revenue bookings dashboard featuring time series predictions.

A Modern, Personalized User Experience with Salesforce Lightning 
This latest release further leverages the Salesforce Lightning development framework to deliver a modern, cohesive design that empowers users to personalize their experience.

Conclusions

FinancialForce is growing up!  A new, experienced management team is making their mark on the company with more sophisticated product planning and messaging.  FinancialForce seeks to parlay its dominant position in the service industries to become the financial platform of choice for the services economy.  Increased emphasis on complex billing and sophisticated revenue recognition is paying off as companies move to “everything as a service”.

FinancialForce PSA, first developed as a powerful application to manage the Salesforce Professional Services organization, has grown into the platform of choice for services businesses who already rely on Salesforce CRM to power their sales and marketing organizations.  New functionality to support complex business models, billing and revenue recognition will particularly resonate with IT services and technology companies as they move to take advantage of new forms of subscription services and billing. 

FinancialForce is one of a handful of cloud-based vendors focused on the specialized needs of the Professional Services market.  It has uniquely built out its core Professional Services Automation functionality by taking advantage of new Salesforce innovations in analytics, reporting and collaboration.

Service Performance Insight has had the opportunity to meet with scores of FinancialForce clients who are reaping the benefits of aligning sales, service and finance on the Salesforce platform.  No other vendor provides as deep a level of out-of-the-box integration between Salesforce CRM and FinancialForce PSA. This alignment provides both sales and service a 360-degree view of opportunities, clients, contracts, resources and projects.  Our benchmarks show this tight integration drives superlative performance in terms of growth and profit.

By sticking with the Salesforce Platform and ecosystem, FinancialForce has been able to avoid the complexity, overlaps and intricacies of competing enterprise-class application suppliers who spend more time trying to make disparate acquired products work than on developing new ones.  Having all of its solutions built on the industry-leading Salesforce platform makes FinancialForce a desirable choice for professional services organizations that look to achieve greater alignment between sales, service and finance while enhancing visibility and performance as they grow.

The new FinancialForce management team is bringing more process and structure to a rising star.  These investments are starting to pay off with a predictable product roadmap and enhanced services to accelerate time to value. Now the team must shore up sales and marketing to ensure FinancialForce’s newly rediscovered mojo translates into industry-leading revenue growth!