Sage Intacct, Oracle ERP Cloud, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP are the three highest-rated ERP systems by their users.
86% of Unit4 ERP users say their CRM system is the best of all vendors in the study. The survey-wide satisfaction rating for CRM is 73%, accentuating Unit4 ERP’s leadership in this area.
85% of Ramco ERP Suite users say their ERP systems’ analytics and reporting is the best of all 22 vendors evaluated.
These and many other insights are from SoftwareReview’s latest customer rankings published recently in their Enterprise Data Quadrant Report, Enterprise Resource Planning, April 2021. The report is based entirely on attitudinal data captured from verified owners of each ERP system reviewed. 1,179 customer reviews were completed, evaluating 22 vendors. SoftwareReviews is a division of the world-class IT research and consulting firm Info-Tech Research Group. Their business model is based on providing research to enterprise buyers on subscription, alleviating the need to be dependent on vendor revenue, which helps them stay impartial in their many customer satisfaction studies. Key insights from the study include the following:
Sage Intacct, Oracle ERP Cloud, Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP, Acumatica Cloud ERP, Unit4 ERP and FinancialForce ERP are most popular with their users. SoftwareReview found that these six ERP systems have the highest Net Emotional Footprint scores across all ERP vendors included in the study. The Net Emotional Footprint measures high-level user sentiment. It aggregates emotional response ratings across 25 questions, creating an indicator of overall user feeling toward the vendor and product. The following quadrant charts the results of the survey:
80% of Acumatica Cloud ERP users say their system helps create more business value, leading all vendors on this attribute. How effective an ERP system is at adapting to support new business and revenue models while providing greater cost visibility is the essence of how they deliver business value. The category average for this attribute is 75%. Of the 22 vendors profiled, 12 have scores at the average level or above, indicating many ERP vendors are focusing on these areas to improve the business case of adopting their systems.
86% of Sage Intacct ERP users say their system excels at ease of implementation, leading all vendors in the comparison by a wide margin. Implementing a new ERP system can be a costly and time-consuming process as it involves extensive training, change management, and integration. Ease of Implementation received a category score of 75% across the 22 vendors, indicating ERP vendors are doubling down investments to improve this area. Just 11 of the 22 ERP vendors scored above the category average.
Bottom Line: Customer revenue lifecycles are the lifeblood of any services business, making FinancialForce’s Spring 2021 release timely given the services-first revenue renaissance happening today.
The essence of an excellent services business is that it can consistently create expectations clients trust and the business regularly exceeds. Orchestrating the best people for a given project at the right time, tracking costs, revenue, and margin across all services revenue, including those associated with a client’s assets, is very challenging. Customer revenue lifecycles are in the data, yet no one can get to them because they’re hidden across multiple systems that aren’t integrated. Knowing how efficient a services business is at turning customer engagement into cash is what everyone needs to know, but no one can find. The challenge is equally as daunting for long-established services providers and those rushing into new services businesses to redefine themselves in the hope of profits that are more consistent and fewer price wars.
How Much Is Customer Engagement Is Worth?
Services businesses face the paradox of exceeding client expectations with every engagement but not knowing if extra time, resources, and staff invested are paying off with more revenue and profit. FinancialForce’s Spring 2021 release looks to solve this problem. What galvanizes the ERP, PSA, and platform announcements is a fresh intensity on customer centricity, both for the services business adopting the Spring 2021 release and the customers it’s intended to serve.
Knowing if and by how much a given customer engagement and its revenue lifecycle generate cash, and its potential is one of the core focus areas of the Spring 2021 release. It’s badly needed as many services are flying blind today, overcommitting resources for little return and too often losing control of client engagement and paying the price in lost margin and profits. FinancialForce sees that pain and wants to alleviate it with better financial visibility on all aspects of customer services revenue. FinancialForce aims to provide customer-centric financial reporting down to the revenue stream and costing measure level.
Key Takeaways From The Spring 2021 Release
Customer centricity seen through a financial lens is the cornerstone of FinancialForce’s latest release. One of the primary goals of this release is to update more applications to Salesforce Lightning to provide FinancialForce users with a more consistent user experience across all applications. Salesforce has been doubling down for years on Lightning and its user experience technologies, with FinancialForce reaping the benefits for over a decade. FinancialForce is transitioning their core Professional Services Automation (PSA), Billing, Accounting & Finance and Procurement, Order and Inventory Management to Lightning in this release in response to their customers wanting a consistent user experience across the entire FinancialForce suite of applications. The Spring 2021 release reflects how FinancialForce strives to provide a real-time understanding of customer lifetime value for their ERP and PSA customers.
Additional key takeaways include the following:
FinancialForce sees reducing days to close as one of the highest priorities they need to address today. The majority of new feature announcements center on how the days to close cycles can be streamlined, especially across multi-company and multisite locations across geographic and currency-specific regions of the world. Multi-company currency revaluation will help FinancialForce customers who operate across multiple geographies that operate in different currencies and will be especially useful for those clients creating new global channels and considering foreign acquisitions. Further showing the high priority they are putting on reducing days to close, the Spring 2021 release also includes automated eliminations, multi-company period close for software closes, which are designed to temporarily close out a financial report and revenue schedules that can provide a future view in revenues – a key factor in knowing customer revenue lifecycles.
New features and a new Lightning interface for Accounting, Billing Central, and Inventory Management simplifies complex transactions for users. FinancialForce has one of the most customer-driven product management teams in enterprise software. The depth of features they have added to inventory management, transactional and reconciliation processes for accounting, drop-ship use cases, and enhancements for adding products to billing contracts show how much FinancialForce is listening to customers.
AI-enhanced financial reporting that works with any Einstein data set. FinancialForce leads the Salesforce partner ecosystem when it comes to integrating Tableau CRM (formerly known as Einstein Analytics) into its platform. Now thirteen releases in, FinancialForce’s Spring 2021 release reflects the intuitive, adaptive intelligence that the product management team aims to achieve by integrating Einstein into their financial reporting workflows.
Professional Services Automation (PSA) Applications Including Resource Management, Project Management, and Time & Expense upgraded to Lightning. Transitioning three of the core PSA applications to Lightning will help broaden adoption and make them easier to upsell and cross-sell across the FinancialForce customer base. It will also help existing customers using these applications get new employees up to speed faster on them, given how much more streamlined Lightning is as an interface compared to previous versions.
Intelligent Staffing solves the complex challenges resource managers face when assigning the best possible associates to a given project. Designed to filter and intelligently rank potential resources based on region, practice, group skill sets, and availability, Intelligent Staffing is designed to get resource managers as close to an ideal match as possible for a given project’s requirements. This is a much-welcomed new feature by FinancialForce customers who are large-scale services providers as they’re facing the challenges of assigning the right person to the right project at the right time to ensure project success.
Integration of Salesforce AI’s Next Best Action (NBA) will raise the level of project expertise at scale across customers. Part of the customer centricity focus in Spring 2021 is focused on providing customers with new technologies and applications to share expertise and knowledge at scale. Next Best Action provides prescriptive guidance for the project manager and will see heavy use in new associate onboarding across services businesses and achieve greater corporate-wide learning at scale. This is consistent with the focus in the Spring 2021 release on bringing greater space and speed to mid-size and larger services customers.
FinancialForce defines customer engagement and centricity from a financial standpoint in the Spring 2021 release. Too often, services businesses commit to large-scale projects without a clear idea of the customer revenue lifecycle. With FinancialForce, they can stop and ask if the level of customer engagement they’re committing to is worth it or not – and if it isn’t, what needs to be done. FinancialForce is doubling down on user experience and accelerating time-to-close, two areas their customers want innovation to and look to them to deliver. Look for FinancialForce to scale out with more MuleSoft and Tableau integration scenarios, all aimed at capitalizing on their expertise developing on the Salesforce platform. There’s a bigger challenge to customer engagement on the horizon, and that’s providing a real-time view of financials across all customers with all available data across a business, making MuleSoft integration key to FinancialForce’s future growth.
Cloud ERP is the fastest growing sector of the global ERP market with services-based businesses driving the majority of new revenue growth.
Legacy Services ERP providers excel at meeting professional & consulting services information needs yet often lack the flexibility and speed to support entirely new services business models.
Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) is quickly emerging as a must-have feature in Services-based Cloud ERP suites.
From globally-based telecommunications providers to small & medium businesses (SMBs) launching new subscription-based services, the intensity to innovate has never been stronger. Legacy Services ERP and Cloud ERP vendors are responding differently to the urgent needs their prospects and customers have with new apps and suites that can help launch new business models and ventures.
Services-based Cloud ERP providers are reacting by accelerating improvements to Professional Services Automation (PSA), Financials, and questioning if their existing Human Capital Management (HCM) suite can scale now and in the future. Vertical industry specialization is a must-have in many services businesses as well. Factoring all these customer expectations and requirements along with real-time responsiveness into a roadmap deliverable in 12 months or less is daunting. Making good on the promises of ambitious roadmaps that includes biannual release cycles is how born-in-the-Cloud ERP providers will gain new customers including winning many away from legacy ERP providers who can’t react as fast.
The following key takeaways are based on ongoing discussions with global telecommunications providers, hosters and business & professional services providers actively evaluating Cloud ERP suites:
Roadmaps that reflect a biyearly release cadence complete with user experience upgrades are the new normal for Cloud ERP providers. Capitalizing on the strengths of the Salesforce platform makes this much easier to accomplish than attempting to create entirely new releases every six months based on unique code lines. FinancialForce, Kenandy and Sage have built their Cloud ERP suites on the Salesforce platform specifically for this reason. Of the three, only FinancialForce has provided detailed product roadmaps that specifically call out support for evolving services business models, multiple user interface (UI) refreshes and new features based on customer needs. FinancialForce is also one of the only Cloud ERP providers to publish their Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) already to support their current and next generation user interfaces.
Cloud ERP leaders are collaborators in the creation of new APIs with their cloud platform provider with a focus on analytics, integration and real-time application response. Overcoming the challenges of continually improving platform-based applications and suites need to start with strong collaboration around API development. FinancialForce’s decision to hire Tod Nielsen, former Executive Vice President, Platform at Salesforce as their CEO in January of this year reflects how important platform integration and an API-first integration strategy is to compete in the Cloud ERP marketplace today. Look for FinancialForce to have a break-out year in the areas of platform and partner integration.
Analytics designed into the platform so customers can create real-time dashboards and support the services opportunity-to-revenue lifecycle. Real-time data is the fuel that gets new service business models off the ground. When a new release of a Cloud ERP app is designed, it has to include real-time Application Programming Interface (API) links to its cloud platform so customers can scale their analytics and reporting to succeed. What’s most important about this from a product standpoint is designing in the scale to flex and support an entire opportunity-to-revenue lifecycle.
Having customer & partner councils involved in key phases of development including roadmap reviews, User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and API beta testing are becoming common. There’s a noticeable difference in Cloud ERP apps and suites that have gone through UAT and API beta testing outside of engineering. Customers find areas where speed and responsiveness can be improved and steps saved in getting workflows done. Beta testing APIs with partners and customers forces them to mature faster and scale further than if they had been tested in isolation, away from the market. FinancialForce in services and IQMS in manufacturing are two ERP providers who are excelling in this area today and their apps and suites show it.
New features added to the roadmap are prioritized by revenue potential for customers first with billing, subscriptions, and pricing being the most urgent. Building Cloud ERP apps and suites on a platform free up development time to solve challenging, complex customer problems. Billing, subscriptions, and pricing are the frameworks many services businesses are relying on to start new business models and fine-tune existing ones. Cloud ERP vendors who prioritize these have a clear view of what matters most to prospects and customers.
Live and build apps by the mantra “own the process, own the market”. Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) and Quote-to-Cash (QTC) are two selling processes services and manufacturing companies rely on for revenue daily and struggle with. Born-in-the-cloud CPQ and QTC competitors on the Salesforce platform have the fastest moving roadmaps and release cadences of any across the platform’s broad ecosystem. The most innovative Services-focused Cloud ERP providers look to own opportunity-to-revenue with the same depth and expertise as the CPQ and QTC competitors do.
Enterprises are only realizing 35% of the total potential value of their cloud deployments according to a recent Bain & Company study.
Companies that moved development to IaaS and PaaS clouds from Amazon Web Services (AWS) reduced downtime by 72% and improved application availability by 3.9 hours per user per year.
These and other key take-aways are from the recent Bain & Company study, Tapping Cloud’s Full Potential. The full report PDF is available for download here (free, no opt-in). The following graphic from the report illustrates the currently realized value of cloud deployments in enterprises today according to Bain & Company.
The researchers found several critical drivers of cloud value with one of the most important being the strengthening and clarifying of a product and service focus. The following graphic illustrates the critical drivers of cloud value.
Cloud Service Providers Give Manufacturers The Ability To Stay Competitive
Cloud-first strategies designed to accelerate and strengthen shifts in emerging business models is paying off according to Bain’s research results.
Manufacturers choosing to pursue a cloud-first strategy are focusing on evolving their business models, processes, systems and performance quickly to stay in step with customers’ needs. For many manufacturers, their customers’ pace is faster than internal IT organizations can anticipate and react to. CSPs are helping to close that gap.
Here are five ways CSPs are making manufacturers more competitive:
Bringing industry expertise to the shop floor level. The best CSPs serving manufacturers today have management teams that have decades of combined manufacturing experience in specific industries. The CEO of a specialty tools manufacturer remarked that his company’s cloud strategy was more focused on accelerating plant floor performance first. Working with a CSP that had expertise in their industry, this manufacturer was able to gain greater supply chain visibility and improve forecast accuracy, all with cloud-based apps.
Solving legacy and 3rd party system integration problems so that cloud-based ERP, CRM, supply chain management (SCM) systems can scale quickly. When a rust-belt based manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems had the opportunity to grow their business by expanding into build-to-order customized products, their CSP partner made it possible to integrate an entirely new product configurator and cloud-based ERP system module to manage quote-to-cash. Today, 30% of corporate-wide profits are from build-to-order selling strategies.
Knowledge-sharing supplier networks are becoming more attainable for manufacturers thanks to cloud technologies and CSPs. All manufacturers have strategic plans that include greater integration of their supplier networks, with many seeking to create knowledge-sharing networks. One of the best studies of how to create a knowledge-sharing network is from Dr. Jeffrey Dyer and Dr. Kentaro Nobeoka based on their intensive work with Toyota. Their study, Creating And Managing A High Performance Knowledge-Sharing Network: The Toyota Case is a great read. The following graphic from the study illustrates the evolution of a knowledge-sharing network. Manufacturers are relying on cloud platforms and CSPs to enable shifts in network structures and nurture change management to create self-sustaining systems.
Two-tier ERP adoption in manufacturing is growing as CSPs master cloud ERP systems. CSPs are moving beyond providing basic services, specializing in cloud ERP, CRM, SCM, pricing, services and legacy system integration to keep pace with manufacturers’ demands. In one high tech manufacturer, their CSP partner orchestrated the procuring and launch of their cloud-based two-tier ERP system integrated to an SAP instance in their headquarters. Today they operate production centers in Asia, North America and Australia, all coordinated through the main SAP instance in the U.S. headquarters.
Making Service Level Agreements (SLAs) more relevant to manufacturing business models. Instead of just getting SLAs for uptime, security and system stability, manufacturers are getting advanced manufacturing intelligence dashboards that provide visibility to the plant or production center level.
Bottom Line: Manufacturers are increasingly relying on CSPs’ cloud, industry and integration expertise to support the transition many are making to new business models and get greater than 35% of the value from their cloud investments.