FinancialForce, which has just completed its two-day annual event — virtually this year, of course — is something of a barometer for the health of the IT industry. Much of its business comes from professional services organizations, whether independent consultancies and integrators or the in-house services operations of technology vendors.
The FinancialForceX event therefore became an occasion both for reflection on lessons learned and also for the introduction of new functionality to address challenges that have come to the fore during the business disruption of COVID-19.
The overall takeaway is that COVID-19's interruption to business-as-usual hasn't dampened overall spending on technology. While some businesses have put plans on hold, others have recognized a new urgency to speed their journey online. FinancialForce CEO Tod Nielsen summed this up in his opening keynote:
When I think about digital transformation and COVID-19, that has been a wake-up call for many customers that are early in the journey saying, 'Man, I've got to jump on this and make things happen.'
Nielsen spoke about his own takeaways from the past few months, building on strategies he explored in an article for diginomica two weeks ago. His keynote set out a framework for managing in turbulent times. The core principles are to streamline delivery, listen to signals, put them in context, and create continuous, seamless business flow that's optimized for your core mission. FinancialForce plays its part in enabling that framework, he concluded:
It's in our DNA of FinancialForce, to be able to track the most important business signals, give you context, and enable you to act swiftly on them.
Staying on top of revenue, cash flow and resources
For example, the vendor today announced its Risk Tracker tool, now available free-of-charge on the Salesforce AppExchange, which monitors signals related to COVID impact and helps organizations assess risks to their revenue and cash flow. Originally built to monitor signals within FinancialForce's own business, it aggregates operational signals from unstructured data in Salesforce CRM, FinancialForce PSA and FinancialForce ERP Chatter feeds. It then uses Salesforce Einstein Analytics to bring the data together in an executive-level summary of financial risk.
Other announcements included the company's Summer 2020 Release, due to be available to customers from early July, which adds two new analytics dashboards to target cash management and capacity planning:
- The Cash Flow Forecast Dashboard in the Cloud ERP product will provide greater visibility into cash outflows and inflows for better cash management.
- The Capacity Planning and Demand Dashboard for the PSA platform brings resource capacity together with demand to give resource managers a forward-looking view of capacity by role, with the ability to drill down to individual resources.
Dan Brown, Chief Product and Strategy Officer at FinancialForce says these new features were brought forward in response to customer demand as a result of COVID-19:
Based on customer input, we fast-tracked updates that give organizations the ability to quickly prepare and adjust forecasts and capacity so they can better meet the demands of the market and make more informed decisions about cash needs, investments, expenditures, and resources.
FinancialForce continues to add to its catalog of role-based workspaces, rolling out new workspaces for procurement and billing, particularly relevant in current times. There are also new pre-built KPIs in the Cloud ERP product for subscription bookings, aimed at SaaS vendors and others in the customer base who are increasingly turning to the subscription model. These make it easier to track annual recurring revenue (ARR) and monthly recurring revenue (MRR), customer renewal rate and customer churn.
Distributed working and customer success
FinancialForce also announced an integration with bank data network Plaid — recently acquired by Visa — which will help customers connect their bank accounts directly to FinancialForce Accounting and use imported bank statements for reconciliation. The new feature will launch later this year in the US and Canada, with additional countries added as future updates.
To support the sudden spike in remote working in the professional services sector, there's also a new Zoom connector for PSA. This will allow geographically dispersed professional services teams to quickly convene Zoom meetings while collaborating on projects in FinancialForce PSA. It also integrates with Chatter, which currently remains the default channel for chat on the Salesforce platform, until the roll-out of Salesforce Anywhere, which launched today.
FinancialForce also unveiled a partnership with customer success platform provider Gainsight, which recognized the vendor with an award earlier this year for its integration of Gainsight metrics into the Risk Tracker app. The Gainsight integration will bring together data from both platforms to extend visibility into customer experiences at different touchpoints. For example, customer payment metrics and data from FinancialForce ERP can be highlighted within Gainsight's predictive health scorecard, triggering customer success actions based on the data and established thresholds.
Risk Tracker and the PSA Zoom Connector are the first solutions to emerge from the newly launched FinancialForce Labs, an innovation hub in which experts from FinancialForce collaborate with customers to speed the release of new technologies. It takes on projects to meet specific needs raised by customers or to address external events and trends that are outside of, but complement, FinancialForce's established roadmap.
Today the company previewed future product directions and technologies, including Project Keystone, which Brown defines as a tool for managing customer engagement, whether from opportunity to renewal, or opportunity to next engagement. This will pull together all the various revenue streams and other metrics that help track the health of the customer relationship.
Everyone is still learning how to successfully present virtual events. FinancialForceX has been one of the better ones, with a lively chat feed alongside the presentations and a decent number of live sessions, particularly the many that have involved customers — we'll have more reports from those sessions in the next few days. The vendor also set up EMEA-centric panels that went out in the afternoon local time, before the main US agenda which started an hour and a half later. It was particularly impressive to see Stuart Monk, VP & General Manager EMEA, introduce today's session with comments about the heat wave that peaked here in England today. You can't fake that sense of presence.