FinancialForce has announced its Spring 18 release with improvements to both financials and professional services automation. The news comes a week ahead of Salesforce World Tour in New York and a couple of weeks before TSW in San Diego.
This is a busy week for FinancialForce. It has announced the opening of a flagship office in New York and recently expanded the footprint of their office in Harrogate. This is also the first significant product release that has had Dan Brown, Chief Product Officer driving it fully.
Boosting Financials in Spring 18
FinancialForce has one of the leading revenue management solutions. This release is more about improving and updating functionality than completely new functionality. This is not a bad thing. It demonstrates the maturity of the product as the changes add support for new regulations and further improves automation for corporate financial operations.
The new release allows companies to continue to maintain ASC605 contracts and also supports the new ASC606 standard. This includes cost allocations such as the ability to include sales commissions in revenue contracts and allows the amortisation of them both in a consistent way.
Raphael Bres, vice president product management for Financial Management at FinancialForce commented: “As private companies are working towards compliance with the upcoming Revenue Recognition standards, we’re implementing features to make it easier for them to meet the January 2019 deadline.
“With our new Revenue Management enhancements, companies can have full visibility of their revenue processes and reporting at all times and maintain an efficient, automated and auditable system that works intuitively across all revenue streams.”
Organisations can deploy Revenue Management as a stand alone module but is more powerful alongside FinancialForce Cloud Financial Management. Over 200 customers are already using revenue management and seeing the benefits.
Shaun de Lacy, Director Global Financial Systems, INTO University Partnerships commented: “Six US entities each used to take 1-2 days every month using spreadsheets. One person now does all the work in just 6 hours. That’s a 90% reduction in accounting effort and we also saved a chunk of audit fees!”.
Addressing the Services economy
When Enterprise Times spoke to Fred Studer, CMO at FinancialForce he reiterated the company’s focus to address the “services economy”. He placed FinancialForce as being the customer centric ERP. The Spring 18 release takes this view a step further. It has improved support for complex charge models as clients deliver an increasing mix of services. It’s complex pro-ration calculations are automated allowing customers to re-price, at any time, including mid-term and without the concern that financial compliance calculations will take complex spreadsheets to achieve.
FinancialForce has additionally improved the functionality in the FinancialForce Financial Management Community. Customers using FinancialForce are now able to deliver a self service capability to their customers. It enables them to view and manage subscription and usage-based services. The user experience (UX) has only improved with FinancialForce developing the latest version with Salesforce Lightning components.
These features include Payments Plus a new accounts payable and payment processing feature. It automates much of the accounts payable process, the user journey is enhanced through the use of wizards. This both increases efficiency and reduces errors.
Services companies such as NewVoiceMedia can see the advantages this now offers. Emma Holmes, Purchase Ledger Controller, NewVoiceMedia enthused: “The added payment flexibility and time saving user interface is just what we asked for with PaymentsPlus.”
PSA sees the biggest feature growth
The Professional Services Automation product sees the widest set of updates. The UX is enhanced with more lightning themes included. The first integrations with ADP Workforce Now are also included. Absence management data from ADP is now fully integrated into the PSA solution. Onboarding is now supported. As new hires are added to ADP they become available to the PSA solution for resource allocation.
This is first sign FinancialForce applications are integrating with ADP since the partnership was announced. Importantly FinancialForce are using standard API’s to achieve it. This means that for customers in the UK and Australia who are also awaiting a announcement around an HCM partnership they should not have to wait too long for the functionality to appear.
Resource management also sees improvements. FinancialForce is delivering improvement for both projects based and managed services businesses. Resource management functionality is improved with better skills mapping and an increased number of criteria for resource managers to find the right person for the allocated task. Once configured this improves the speed at which resource management can be completed. The new Lightning themes also improve the visual cues to resource managers with colour coding supported. Service providers now have access to reusable templates and notifications to rapidly set up or modify shift rotas as needs change.
It has also improved the forecasting capability, with greater visibility across the sales pipeline and unscheduled backlog. With greater visibility comes the ability to improve utilisation as they can predict the required resources for projects and scale up or down appropriately. Mark Conklin, Director of Operations, Salesforce commented: “One of our biggest wins was pushing in utilization. Now we couldn’t live without FinancialForce PSA. It’s ingrained in what we do. Being able to work out headcount and utilization split by region/practice/group has impacted the entire business, not just Services Operations.”
What does this mean
While there may appear to be no major improvements with this release there are significant ones. The integration with ADP is the first stage of the strategy to remove HCM from the FinancialForce core solutions and integrate with partner solutions. The generic API approach is a sensible one. While it may have taken longer than many customers had hoped, it expect more functionality and deeper integration in the next major release. The improvements to resource management are also important with both Mavenlink and Kimble strengthening their products in this area. The Oracle NetSuite PSA solutions SRP and OpenAir are likely to announce significant product enhancements next week at SuiteWorld.
Missing from these announcements was further progress around AI and Salesforce Einstein. It may be that these are still in development and their may be an early glimpse of what FinancialForce are working on at their annual user convention in June, Community Live. This release should strengthen FinancialForce’s credentials in the US, especially for its Financial Cloud solution. Dan Brown commented: “The new services economy has been growing at an astounding rate, and everything-as-a-service (XaaS) business models are disrupting countless industries. Legacy business systems built for a manufacturing-centric and product-centric era are unable to support the new XaaS world. Our design principles from the start has been to help companies thrive in these emerging business models.”
Brown is leading the FinancialForce product, not in a new direction, but in a more focused one. This should allow Tod Nielsen, CEO and Fred Studer to realise the growth that they are aiming to deliver.