I’ve been writing about FinancialForce ever since… well, ever since it has existed, to be honest. The company, a by-product of a love fest between European ERP vendor Unit4, and CRM behemoth Salesforce has been going now for nearly a decade. When it was created, FinancialForce was seen as a logical extension for the Salesforce platform – by building a native ERP on top of Force.com, the idea was that customers who needed both an ERP and a CRM could enjoy a single data set and common platform and user experience.

Fast forward to today and much has changed. New financial applications have been built on the Salesforce platform (most notable Kenandy, since acquired by Rootstock) and FinancialForce has become more focused, in particular specializing on the professional services automation (PSA) space. Much of its PSA smarts were (ironically, as we’ll later see) developed from an IP swap in which Appirio, a huge Salesforce services company, gave up its own product ambitions, and sold its PSA offering to FinancialForce.

For its part, Appirio was built in the shadow of Salesforce and specializes in helping large enterprises in their journey to the cloud. Initially, that was pretty Salesforce-centric, but in recent years has branched out into other cloud-based solutions. Appirio itself was acquired by massive services company Wipro a few years ago.

Back to the future

Which takes us to today. Appirio is a subsidiary of a much bigger company that places demands on the underling in terms of growth. FinancialForce is growing, but perhaps not quite at the rapid clip that its investors (which, confusingly enough, includes Salesforce) would like. A change of leadership (FinancialForce founder Jeremy Roche returned to the Unit4 mothership, replaced by Tod Nielsen. At the same time Fred Studer, famously of Microsoft and NetSuite fame, joined the company as uber-marketeer), and some marketing spend are designed to accelerate that growth.

Also accelerating that growth is a partnership being announced today that sees Appirio sign on as implementation partner for FinancialForce. The partnership, officially termed a Global Systems Integrator one, should help FinancialForce, in particular in its acquisition aims for professional services organizations. Appirio has historical skills in the PSA space (it built the tool that would eventually become FinancialForce PSA< after all), FinancialForce is a specialist in building tools for the space and the Salesforce connection is obviously a compelling joint story.

Indeed, to make this love circle even more perfect, Appirio is actually a customer of FinancialForce PSA. This is the very definition of recursive. Outside of the irony of it all, Appirio is a pretty good proof point in using FinancialForce to build a professional services business.

MyPOV

FinancialForce needs to grow faster – it’s a great company with awesome products but it hasn’t yet delivered upon its promise. This despite the very real benefits that being such a Salesforce poster child brings. I’d imagine this partnership will help both FinancialForce and Appirio to scale their respective businesses.

 

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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