FinancialForce has unveiled its first major release of the year, Spring 2021. The release is generally available today. As with previous releases, the company has produced enhancements across both its ERP and PSA solutions. It also continues to enhance FinancialForce Accelerate, its customer success model with technology enhancements that aim to help increase adoption of its solutions.
Dan Brown commented: “A big focus for this Spring 21 release is how do our customers equip their people with the best tools. Part of that is with modern experiences. Modern experiences translate into productivity, giving people the data they need, giving them familiar user experiences, and so on. So they’re effective, and so that they can engage their customers and create value for them.”
Usability to the next level
FinancialForce has a multifaceted approach to user experience, which includes:
The latest updates all fall into these categories as it continues to develop and improve the user experience. The FinancialForce team has worked hard to migrate its solutions from the Salesforce Classic to the Salesforce Lightning interface. There are updated Lightning UX features for Inventory Management, Accounting, and Billing Central. Enhancements include completed drop ship use cases for inventory management, transactional and reconciliation processes for accounting, and enhancements for adding products to billing contracts.
Once migrated to Lightning the work is not stopping. This release has added more workspaces and even more Lightning features. FinancialForce now aims to deliver the user an in-context experience wherever they are in the application. A new navigational bar, consistent across the application, enables the user to switch focus quickly.
For any new feature, FinancialForce now includes in-app prompts as well as tips and best practices. This speeds up adoption and also ensures a shorter onboarding time for the new features and the wider platform generally for users.
Accelerate is acceleration implementations
There are enhancements to the CLX hub. Deployments are speeded up with the visibility of the Salesforce org to check everything is configured correctly for a deployment. There is also a new permissions workbench that enables administrators to create and maintain permission sets for users.
Accelerate, including the CLX Hub, is having a big impact on implementations. Scott Brown, CEO FinancialForce commented: “65% of our customers implement under 100 days. It is the best and fastest implementation timeframe we’ve ever had.” Brown also shared that with its new partner-centric focus it is also training partners on the same methodology. FinancialForce will also add certifications to its channel program soon.”
What is in Spring 2021 for ERP users
Within the ERP applications, there has been a focus on delivering enhancements that larger organisations expect and need. The primary development focus was ensuring that the period end process is as short as possible. Several enhancements addressed this:
- Enhancement to multi-company currency revaluation
- Autonation of intercompany eliminations through the ability to create elimination rules
- The ability to soft close an entity, enabling the finance team to reopen the period if inter-entity journals are required, for example
Another enhancement is to the revenue schedules. Revenue Schedules now automatically provide detailed information down to the account level for new contracts and service engagements.
FinancialForce has also made its next-generation Financial report builder available with this release. The new report builder provides the expected traditional reports and also offers the user the flexibility to view the data interactively through different lenses. Users can add columns and calculated fields on the fly, further enhancing a standard template report. They can also create reports from scratch. Built on Tableau CRM (Einstein), the solution will let accountants filter and modify reports simply. More advanced users can leverage the more complex capabilities as easily. Brown noted: “It is our next generation Financial Report Builder. We’re very excited about it. We think it’s game-changing.”
FinancialForce has also delivered Customer Engagement, piloted in the Fall 20 release it enables users to see the complete impact of a customer engagement from opportunity to renewal. It provides an analysis of revenue and costs across all revenue streams including services, subscriptions, and tangible goods across an entire customer portfolio. This delivers a better understanding of a customers net worth. It solves the challenge of identifying the importance of a customer, for example, when complaining about a single product delivery missed.
What is in Spring 2021 for PSA users
Updates to PSA includes enhanced usability for Resource Management, Project Management, and Time & Expense that now take advantage of Salesforce Lightning. FinancialForce has also delivered intelligent staffing. This takes its resource management features to a new level. Dan Brown explained the challenge saying: “What do we mean by intelligent staffing? Well, historically, resource requests have been typically based on a filtering of resources, based on region, practice group, on the skill sets, availability, and so on. Filtering like this is great except when you don’t have an exact match. A lot of times a resource manager, if he or she can’t find an exact match, will change filters, so that they can find resources that are close to an exact match.”
The new solution enables a resource manager to create a list in the old way that highlights the applicable resources for the task. If the pool is not large enough they can then extend the list further using intelligent staffing. This takes into account a configurable weighting system by different criteria including region, office. An extended list of potential resources is ranked in order of relevance. Enterprise Times asked Brown whether this includes criteria such as whether the consultant had worked with the customer before. He answered: “Spring ’21 does allow filtering and use in Intelligent Staffing for ‘worked with customer before’.”
A boost for Intelligent Staffing
FinancialForce will continue to enhance Intelligent Staffing but Brown has a cautious approach to introducing more flexibility. He commented: “The one thing that is tricky about flexibility with this optimization is making sure that the customer understands how the match was made. There’s a balance here between flexibility and understandability. That’s something we’ll be working with customers on to find that right balance.”
The second major enhancement for PSA is that PSA is now taking advantage of the Salesforce AI feature Next Best Action. The first element it applies to is budgeting thresholds. The solution will now automatically trigger a change request once a budget threshold is hit. Having rolled out the first use case expect more to follow.
More to come
One of the areas that Brown alluded to was for future integrations. First to other Salesforce products such as Tableau and Mulesoft. Brown commented that the engagement with Tableau is further along. Enterprise Times also asked about integrations to third-party applications. Brown confirmed that it would announce some new integrations at X Summit, a virtual event which this year is between June 22nd and 24th.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
This is another solid update from FinancialForce. The company continues to leverage the Salesforce Technology stack in ways that impress. There are also signs of what will become significant future updates. The introduction of Next Best Action is a case in point. One suspects that this is the thin end of a massive wedge.
There were some omissions from this update, notably more geographic expansion. However, it seems that the focus has been on developing functionality for multi-national and Enterprise companies first, which would enable FinancialForce to leverage any future localisations quickly.