When FinancialForce announced the acquisition a few months ago of the Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution created by Appirio – it seemed an obvious fit. FinancialForce is the financial solution of choice on the force.com platform, while a huge number of service professionals utilize the salesforce application itself. Tying all three together (CRM, ERP and PSA) is  compelling offering – especially when all three are built on a consistent platform.

FinancialForce are today showing their hand and indicating where this is going by announcing what they are terming Services Resource Planning – the provision of an end-to-end solution for service professionals. But more than a branding exercise, this release is being touted as a new focus for FinancialForce, I talked with Tom Brennan, VP Marketing from the company, and he said that this is the first of future developments that will see FinancialForce change its scope from being a financial software company, to being more of a broader application platform company.

FinancialForce told me that their own studies have found that fully 40% of services professionals use salesforce as their CRM, a statistic that undoubtedly can be questioned, but one that is indicative of the rise of salesforce in this sector. Brennan, in an approach reminiscent of NetSuite’s “hairball” campaign, talked of the inefficiencies attendant in using disconnected systems; the use of spreadsheets in place of integrations, the breaking of core processes and the siloing of data.

Brennan was quick to differentiate this offering from NetSuite’s similar play with their OpenAir product. In his words NetSuite/OpenAir is more of a combined interface, whereas the FinancialForce offering is what he calls a pure-play, deep integration.

There is little inherently new in this offering – the PSA offering from Appirio was pre-existing, and obviously both salesforce and FinancialForce go back awhile – what it does however is wrap all three up in a consistent offering, with one price ticket. $55 per user per month gets professionals access to the SRP product, with users who need full accounting access paying $175 per month.

The automation of professional service’s operations is becoming more important as firms look or a point of differentiation. This packaged offering from FinancialForce should prove to be a compelling proposition in the marketplace.

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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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