The Fall 20 release from FinancialForce has landed. Dan Brown, Chief Product and Strategy Officer at FinancialForce, gave a presentation around the new features in what is usually the second major release of the year. In fact, the recent Summer release, in response to the current crisis and customers requirements, contained more enhancements than usual. This has barely impacted the content for Fall 20. The update has three underlying themes: Experience, Agility and Insight, each of which contained several updates.
Brown commented: “Our Fall 2020 Release is designed to deliver greater business insights and forecasting capabilities, as well a modern user experience. The need to quickly prepare and adjust forecasts to meet the demands of the market has never been greater. The Fall Release enables organizations to turn on a dime in times of change, while making better and more informed decisions about their cash needs, investments, and expenditures.”
All the new features in Fall 20 use the Salesforce Lightning Experience, and it delivered new functionality for both ERP and PSA using the modern Salesforce user interface. Brown confirmed that his team are on track to complete the migration to LEX in 2021.
Unlimited workspaces with new builder
FinancialForce continues to add new workspaces; there are now thirteen. These provide personalised dashboards that enable individuals in different roles access to the key elements of their job. In Fall 20 it has added Services Revenue Forecasting, Time and Expense, and Revenue Management.
Services leaders can use the Services Revenue Forecasting dashboard to slice and dice projected revenue quickly, helping them to identify anomalies and insights. It provides visually engaging charts that help to forecast future revenues more accurately.
The Revenue Management dashboard provides Financial Planning and Analysis professionals to monitor and manage revenue transactions as they are logged. It can also surface and help the accountant prepare for the period end, helping to monitor and manage journals. The Time and Expense workspace can help individuals track their time entries, or it can help managers identify the state of time tracking in their teams, enabling them to authorise submitted entries or prompt consultants to submit them quickly.
Greg Howell, President at Flexo Concepts, commented: “We’ve used Workspace Builder to create our own workspaces that are customized for our business and our employees’ roles. We focus a lot of energy on standardizing work and processes in all areas of our business. The workspaces allow us to surface anomalies in these processes and address issues in real-time.”
Howell also revealed that Flexo Concepts has taken and modified the Collections workspace for its Staff Accountant to provide visibility across her role. The company has also created new workspaces for its Engineering manager and sales teams, the former of which is not using data from FinancialForce but mainly Service Cloud data. It seems that Workspace Builder once understood opens many possibilities. Rarely is one role the same within or between different companies. Workspace builder is thus enabling administrators to build more personalized experiences across an entire workforce within Salesforce.
Improving the user Experience
Workspaces are not the only innovation to improve user experience that FinancialForce has developed. It has now added Summary pages. These draw together key information about a specific entity such as a project with data and analysis provided by Einstein Analytics. Alongside the summary page is an action card that enables the user to take immediate action on any insights highlighted.
Another addition is In-App prompts. These provide instant training on new features. They can surface a video about a new feature, or for use during onboarding and accelerating adoption.
Feature improvements under the tagline agility provide new and enhanced functionality for users. For PSA users this includes improved integration with Jira, a new integration with Zoom and an updated time entry process.
The new integrations see PSA integrated to Jira at a task level. This is not a continuous bi-directional synchronisation, but it does allow one-way sync in either direction. Thus companies can determine what the system of record is and ensure that data in both systems is the same. The new integration with Zoom enables users to create conferences within Zoom without leaving PSA; it includes visibility of calendars to confirm availability and the option to create both instant and scheduled meetings.
The addition of “in Context” time entry bring a level of automation to time entry. It fills in time cards where the system is aware of what the PSA user is doing at that point in time. This means that time tracking is more accurate and can also ensure that more time is tracked and reported. This should help to increase utilisation and accurate billing where appropriate.
FinancialForce continues to enhance its Accelerate program. It provides two new tools to assist with the implementation of FinancialForce. The first is interesting; it is a tool that provides organisations with an analysis of their existing Salesforce installation to identify any issues that might arise during the deployment of FinancialForce. This is a very useful tool and will help eliminate problems before they happen.
The second is the creation of best-practice deployment configurations. Brown described the reasoning behind this: “One of the things that we’ve been investing heavily in accelerate is the way that we think a business whether it’s a back-office function, or professional service function should operate best from a business capability and use our technology accordingly.”
What isn’t clear is whether FinancialForce is looking purely at functional best practice or whether it has created specific industry vertical best-practice configurations. However, those may follow.
FinancialForce continues to improve the capabilities of its dashboards with more simple to use analytics features. Under the covers, the solution is now able to track even greater numbers of consultants. With this release, FinancialForce set a new benchmark for scalability. The utilisation analytics are now tested and workable for organisations with up to 50,000 consultants. Brown indicated that by Spring 21 it would support 100,000 with a goal of supporting up to 500,000 consultants, large enough for the biggest organisations in the world.
Fall 20 also sees the introduction of new dashboards to provide more insights. The Cashflow forecasting dashboards helps leaders to visually see cash in and cash out both historically and into the future. This will help organisations to understand their future cash flows better. The services revenue forecasting dashboard provides leaders with the tool to see the projected segment by region or project.
It is possible to adjust future values and then assess the impact that may have on forecasts. Financial Force has also enhanced its Procurement and Inventory dashboards. These enable procurement managers to look at supplier performance, it can help to identify underperforming suppliers.
FinancialForce continues to leverage Salesforce Einstein Analytics to deliver more insights with the ability to take action immediately. This helps with both data-driven decision making in firms but also cuts the time down to make those decisions
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
While this update contains a lot of changes and improvements, there was a lack of a major new feature to focus on. The Workspace builder was announced in Spring. While it continues to deliver iterative improvements, the new features were significant though not huge. The In-App prompts are the introduction of existing Salesforce functionality. While the Zoom integration is new and delivered in a timely fashion Salesforce are not alone with creating that integration.
What is clear is that Brown’s team has focused on delivering the improvements that customers need during this current crisis, such as cash flow forecasting and revenue forecasting. But at what expense? This has meant a delay for some of the international localisations that were originally on the roadmap, but not for long.
Brown acknowledged this, saying “We moved resources to functionality that was more critical to existing customers as a result of the COVID crisis. This included cash flow analytics, procurement analytics, and payments flexibility. The localization for NL will be in our upcoming Winter ’21 release.”
Other localisations, such as Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, will no doubt follow soon after. This is a small set back for Alon van Wezel, the newly appointed Regional Vice President for Continental Europe, FinancialForce. However FinancialForce having accelerated one set of features, localisations will surely follow faster in the coming months if the requirement is there.