Small businesses with an investment in the cloud customer relationship management (CRM) application from Salesforce.com might want to consider a companion service that handles both accounting and professional services automation.
The service, delivered by FinancialForce.com, was developed using the force.com cloud-software delivery platform. What that means, in a nutshell, is that the modules for the application are embedded into the Salesforce.com application, so that users only need one log-in and the interface conventions look the same. Workflows can be passed back and forth.
The benefit from a back-office standpoint is that sales pipelines being managed in Salesforce.com can be kept in closer synchronization with invoicing, billing and expense workflows, said Tom Brennan, vice president of product marketing for FinancialForce.com. "You don't see the lines between one and another," he said.
So, for example, expense reports associated with customer prospecting activities could be generated as the salesperson is updating the prospect or account record with information about the visit.
FinancialForce.com is targeting businesses are primarily services based with its application; to make its cloud application more appealing, it has created a series of mobile components, such as time entry, that can be used on the Apple iOS platform. Unlike some other accounting application, FinancialForce.com was also built from the ground up to handle multinational business or accounts, Brennan said.
One other noteworthy feature: FinancialForce makes use of the Chatter collaboration tool, enabling users to comment on accounts or annotate workflows. FinancialForce.com suggests several potential uses for this feature. For example, a sales team could alert a series of employees about the progress of an especially large deal, including not just the sales personnel but also the finance team, which might offer pricing suggestions or payment terms that might help close the deal.
FinancialForce.com exited its beta test phase in mid-September 2011; it now has more than 20,000 users on its cloud services platform. A typical one-year subscription cost for FinancialForce.com would run about $9,000 for one year, depending on the number of users being supported, according to Brennan.