Latest FinancialForce release adds FP&A as the company locks onto services economy growth

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright April 13, 2022 Audio mode
Summary:
CEO Scott Brown reports record growth as FinancialForce unveils its spring release, including its recently launched FP&A product.

Scott Brown CEO FinancialForce - from Zoom call
Scott Brown, FinancialForce (from Zoom call)

FinancialForce ships its spring release today, with updates to resource management, internationalization, revenue recognition and other capabilities. This is also the first release since the cloud-based financials and PSA vendor introduced its new financial planning and analysis (FP&A) offering, part of a growing set of Salesforce-native offerings tailored to the needs of the service economy as it bounces back from the pandemic. Scott Brown, CEO at FinancialForce, says the company is seeing balanced growth across the board, both geographically and across all industry sectors:

What we're really seeing is a lot more people beginning to see growth in the service economy, more people out there actually utilizing service-based companies as the economy grows. And then as the labour market tightened, it put more and more pressure on folks that are providing consulting, outside services, the type of things that our customers specialize in. There was a lot more pressure on them to step up and actually provide additional assistance there.

As a private company, FinancialForce doesn't publish its financial results, but Brown says its latest fiscal year to the end of January set new records, showing faster growth than any prior year in its history, record expansion with existing customers, and churn at its lowest-ever level. The company is expanding its workforce to drive growth and is boosting investment in R&D as it expands its functional and product footprint. Scott sums up:

We're going to continue to press hard, both on internal innovation as well as innovation that we're bringing in inorganically; we're going to push hard on international expansion; we're going to be pushing hard on vertical expansion; and then on the go-to-market side to continue to expand our coverage around the world.

FinancialForce Planning, the new FP&A product, is an example of that "inorganic" innovation, based on the acquisition last year of a Salesforce-native application. It now brings collaborative budgeting, forecasting and variance analysis capabilities which can be applied across both FinancialForce and Salesforce Sales Cloud and Service Cloud datasets. Budget and forecast data from FinancialForce Planning can be integrated into financial reports using FinancialForce's existing Financial Report Builder. The company says that having all of this data on a single platform will help finance teams accelerate the planning and forecasting cycle, as there's no need to re-map data across a third-party integration or export to spreadsheets.

Updates to ERP Cloud and PS Cloud

The spring release includes a range of different updates to functionality to both the financials product, now dubbed ERP Cloud, and the Professional Services Automation (PSA) product, known as Professional Services Cloud (PS Cloud). Updates to ERP Cloud include:

  • New localizations for Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria, along with improved functionality for Germany and Australia.
  • Further improvements in support for multi-entity organizations, such as making it easier to create multi-company sales invoices, visualization of group structures to ease the preparation of consolidated financial statements, and the ability to record taxes due from intercompany tax transactions.
  • Enhancements to Financial Report Builder including the ability to view and drill into subtotals by different dimensions, greater support for cash flow statements, and export to PDF and Excel.
  • A unified dashboard for revenue recognition and the ability to set an automated schedule for revrec.
  • Expanded access for procurement teams to analyze spend both overall and across categories, and support for inbound PEPPOL invoices.

The main updates to PS Cloud include:

  • Adding intelligent automation to speed the process of matching staff resources to the skills, location and other requirements of specific projects.
  • User experience improvements including a new Work Planner enabling simple drag-and-drop assignments.
  • An enhanced Skills Capacity Dashboard that provides insight into potential future skill gaps, to inform hiring decisions.
  • Improvements to the new services estimating product introduced last year, with more precise estimate contours, greater control around rates and discounting, and deeper sales-to-service automation between PS Cloud and Sales Cloud, with new analytics to provide insights into the estimate-to-project cycle.

FinancialForce also continues to develop its Customer Success offering, the third of its new products introduced in the past year. This provides templates for defining playbooks that set out the components of a company's customer success processes, such as overseeing go-live, managing changes in key customer contacts, and so on. These are then the basis for assigning activities to team members and tracking completion. KPIs track metrics such as the number of playbooks open, risk analysis, milestones achieved and cycle times. In future, success teams will also be able to get insights on which playbooks have the greatest impact, what ROI they achieve, and areas for improvement and optimization.

My take

It's a good moment to add FP&A, as many companies have realized the need for more agile, continuous financial planning and budgeting. Doing this on the Salesforce platform so that customers can plug in data from Salesforce as well as the financial data in FinancialForce helps to reinforce the vendor's unique positioning in this respect. I'm a big proponent of end-to-end processes and data as one of the core principles of Frictionless Enterprise, and while connections between best-of-breed applications are routine these days, there's still a lot to be said for bringing together core data on a single platform.

I also have strong opinions on the nature of customer success. With its strong focus on the service economy, it's good to see FinancialForce including this product offering, but I feel it's still very vendor-centric in its scope — 'Is the customer successful with our product/service?' rather than 'What outcomes is the customer seeking to achieve and are they succeeeding?'. However in fairness that reflects the vendor-centric view of customer success that's prevalent in the market, and so FinancialForce is simply serving that market demand. It will be interesting to see how this particular offering evolves over time.

Overall then, there's evidence of steady progress from FinancialForce, with good news on net retention and growth, suggesting that it's striking the right balance of new customer acquisition alongside expansion within existing customers. The post-pandemic recovery is a rising tide that lifts all boats, but companies like FinancialForce that offer the digital engines to propel that recovery should be able to prosper.

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