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FinancialForce Services-as-a-Business Is What Their Customers Need To Drive Growth

services, FinancialForce services-as-a-business

Service businesses must keep finding new ways to add value to existing clients while removing barriers that slow growth. Overcoming the challenges of outdated HR planning and human resource management (HRM), contract management, and CRM systems are table stakes for staying competitive.

FinancialForce’s Summer 22 release aims to turn those weaknesses into strengths with one of the most comprehensive releases they’ve had lately. “Organizations continue to be buffeted by market disruptions, from spiraling inflation to new COVID variants and unanticipated supply chain issues,” said Scott Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer of FinancialForce. “Our new Services-as-a-Business approach delivers the automation, intelligence, and innovation that services organizations need to become more agile so they can expertly turn disruption into opportunity.”

Improving Opportunity-to-Renewal Is Key  

FinancialForce’s Summer 2022 release reflects how services businesses need to gain greater visibility and control across to their opportunity-to-renewal process while growing more resilient to spiraling costs, uncertain supply chains, and chronic labor shortages. They need to take on these challenges and keep growing. FinancialForce believes its Business-as-a-Service unified platform can strengthen services’ traditionally weak areas (integrated HR, CRM, & contract management) without giving up on how fast they can react to new opportunities.

CEOs and COOs running several leading professional services firms spoken with recently say that tight labor markets, rising prices, and blind spots in the opportunity-to-renewal cycles are hurting revenue. As a result, they’re seeing a drain in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) and Customer Lifetime Value at risk. They also see that the blind spots in Contract Management, Configure, Price & Quote (CPQ), Resource Management, and Financial Planning & Analysis (FPA) across opportunity-to-renewal grow wider the more diverse their client bases become. What’s needed is a 360-degree view of the opportunity-to-renewal process that encompasses every aspect of service operations, from sales to delivery to customer success management, financial management, and planning.

FinancialForce Services-as-a-Business

FinancialForce’s Summer 22 release introduces Business-as-a-Service to bridge the gaps in the opportunity-to-renewal process, improving customer experiences, and driving faster growth by enabling greater real-time collaboration and visibility organization-wide.

Skills Matching & Scheduling Speed Is A Services Killer App

In the Summer 22 Release, FinancialForce strikes at the heart of what challenges services businesses face the most regarding getting staffing right. Skills matching is new in the release, providing Resource Managers with the insights they need to identify skills related to open roles as either Essential or Desirable. The goal is to bring greater accuracy and speed into the assignment process to control for costs, usage rates, and margin impacts while assigning associates to one project versus another.

FinancialForce Services-as-a-Business

Optimizing project schedules and seeing potential scheduling conflicts in real-time helps improve scheduling efficiency by identifying potential project conflicts early and alleviating them by balancing available hours.

A New Streamlined UX Pays Off For Services CPQ 

The Summer 22 release marks the first time FinancialForce ERP Cloud and Professional Services (PS) Cloud run entirely on the Salesforce Lightning Experience (LEX). During the FinancialForce analyst briefing, Heidi Minzner, Vice President, Product Management (ERP Cloud) at FinancialForce, demonstrated how users could create, manage and update line-level data on requisitions and purchase orders in a single view. Additionally, LEX is evident across the entire platform.

Of the many improvements announced in the Summer 22 release, updates to Services CPQ are noteworthy. The updated Services CPQ interface built on LEX has streamlined estimates creation and provides options for defining date-driven rates. Reflecting how services businesses need more role management capabilities, the Summer 22 release can enable role requests from templates and also supports pass-through of needed skills.

FinancialForce Services-as-a-Business

Services’ CPQ improvements are based partly on the platform’s flexibility LEX provides.

William Spice, Senior Director of Product Management says that Services CPQ and Customer Success Cloud are born in LEX, providing FinancialForce with the flexibility of using the latest Salesforce visual UI to deliver greater simplicity of workflows. “Services CPQ shows us extending the footprint across the whole services lifecycle, allowing our customers to build up a range of different estimates for professional services work, widen the selling and opportunity phase, and then seamlessly be able to transition these into a delivery model,” William said.

“Customer Success Cloud is really focused on making it simple and automatic to create playbooks, which are means for anyone across the organization to help ensure that we’re treating our customers with all the respect and impact they would expect from us. And finally, performance to scale sees us continuing to invest and make sure that our applications scale faster than any of our customers can, and focusing on enterprise-level integrations like linking out of the box with JIRA and Concur, for example,” William concluded.

Improving Opportunity-to-Renewal With More Intelligence

Services CPQ’s improvements reflect revenue managers’ need for greater visibility into their sales pipelines and more insights into the propensity to close by client. FinancialForce takes that a step further by providing insights into which factors are most and least affecting opportunity-to-renewal performance.

Current FinancialForce customers have access to dashboards that deliver utilization performance and staffing efficiency and can be configured to provide revenue forecasting. Also announced is a project burn-up dashboard that visualizes work completed and enables teams to be more cost-efficient during project delivery.

Improving Services Revenue With Real-time Visibility And Control

Business-as-a-Service is predicated on the design goal of enabling any business to migrate into providing services profitably. As a result, product-centric companies’ transition to services is commonplace. Nearly every major equipment manufacturer is now selling the value delivered by their machinery as a service.

The many improvements FinancialForce has made in their platform’s Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) areas reflect how this area is core to getting service revenue right. Of the many announcements made in this area of their platform, highlights include providing FP&A teams with the option of performing headcount planning at the resource level to better understand how compensation adjustments will impact future budgets. In addition, flexible budget templates for improving headcount planning alignment with company goals and objectives are now included.

Also announced is a new Planning Workspace where FP&A teams can collaborate and analyze budget information and potential scenarios. The value of having the entire platform on LEX is evident in how FP&A managers can immediately use financial data to accelerate planning cycles which also drives more accurate forecasting within the Planning Workspace. Also introduced is a new machine-learning-based component to the ERP product suite. Its Intelligent bank reconciliation solution provides accounting teams the agility to match a single bank statement transaction to multiple accounting transactions. It’s also supporting a more extensive end-to-end intelligent transaction matching that streamlines reconciliation procedures. That’s welcome news for accounting teams that need the time for more intensive tasks and would like to be free from the repetitive nature of reconciliation work.

Conclusion

FinancialForce’s decision to change its cadence from four to three releases a year shows its product strategy is delving further into where the gaps are in the opportunity-to-renewal process. Concentrating on three significant releases gives their DevOps and engineering teams the time they need to develop new features while revamping the entire platform to the Salesforce Lightning Experience (LEX). Leading with usability on Services CPQ and Customer Success Cloud makes sense as services businesses need to excel in each area to grow and retain customers. Additionally, a new UX will help accelerate the ramp-up times of new users. FinancialForce enters a new era with the Summer 22 Release, closing gaps in platform strategy while helping customers do the same.

FinancialForce’s Spring 2022 Release Defines the Future of FP&A In Services

Economic uncertainty sends shock waves throughout businesses, with service organizations seeing its brunt. The recent drastic drop-off in Netflix subscribers is a case in point. Services CFOs say there is an urgent need to track how well their overarching planning strategies linking finance and operations perform. However, getting the data to analyze has been challenging for even the largest services businesses.

As a result, CFOs need Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) integrated with operational planning applications to make it easier to track plan performance across all P&Ls and financials. FinancialForce’s decision to launch a fully-featured FP&A on their ERP Cloud platform shows they read the services market clearly and listen to their customers’ CFOs on what matters most.

CFOs Want To Know The Financial Impact Of Every Planning Decision

Even during economic stability, finance teams struggle to get operations planning teams the data they need to predict the financial outcomes of decisions. Line-of-business leaders look to finance to provide accurate, detailed information on the financial implications of every planning decision. By having FP&A use the same data accounting, reporting and planning have, CFOs, COOs, and their teams get greater visibility and control over every aspect of budgeting and forecasting.

One of FP&A’s greatest shortcomings in the past was relying only on siloed financial data alone with little visibility into operational planning. Financial teams need access to all available data across finance and operations to do their jobs well and create accurate forecasts. Getting FP&A right with any ERP platform needs to start with the goal of delivering integrated business planning. Sales management and their teams also need visibility into FP&A reporting and analysis to manage revenue. FinancialForce’s decades of experience on the Salesforce platform combined with the integration expertise Salesforces’ MuleSoft acquisition brought to the company four years ago will increase the probability of their FP&A solution gaining adoption.

Services companies’ CFOs are grappling with new economic uncertainties every week. As a result, they’re most interested in getting greater visibility and control over the planning process, including version control, more automated multi-planning options, and more real-time enterprise-wide collaboration, all on a single platform. FinancialForce’s DevOps and product management teams deserve credit for identifying these challenges and including them in their FP&A application delivered in the Spring 2022 release.

FinancialForce

FinancialForce’s long-awaited FP&A solution enables analysts to create multiple what-if scenarios using calculation rules and mass functions, create dynamic plans and stress-test assumptions, and better anticipate their return by area and investment.

The future of FP&A Is An Integrated Cloud

Service organizations are quicker to migrate to the cloud versus their product-based counterparts. That’s because procurement, order-to-cash, and supply chain management workflows tend to be less complex than product-based businesses. Services organizations also need financial management, procure-to-pay, and Professional Services Automation (PSA), all on the same platform to support operational planning with FP&A.

FinancialForce’s Multi-X functionality is expanded in the Spring 2022 release to simplify the consolidation of financial statements and meet the needs of multi-entity organizations. In the latest release, it’s possible to record taxes due from intercompany tax transactions, accelerating the intercompany process for taxation and reporting. The Spring 2022 release also streamlines the creation of multi-company sales invoices and simplifies consolidated financial statement preparation with consolidation group structure capabilities.

FinancialForce

Multi-X enables the recording and sharing across a multi-tier or multi-entity business.

New localization features that are essential to running a global business were added, including support for Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria, as well as enhanced business operations in Germany and Australia. In addition, multi-X supports multi-company invoicing support and advanced invoice consolidations for multi-revenue billing. Calculating and recording tax on intercompany transactions and enabling cash matching process across companies are also supported.

FP&A’s future is an integrated cloud, further validated by FinancialForce’s’ launch of ERP Cloud, Professional Services Cloud, and enhancements to its Customer Success solutions. “In today’s business environment, organizations must be able to respond to disruptions quickly while continuing to innovate and deliver tangible outcomes to their customers,” said Dan Brown, Chief Product and Strategy Officer at FinancialForce. “Our Spring 2022 release gives our customers a richer toolset to help pursue their primary goal, delivering exceptional customer outcomes while improving the customer experience across the opportunity-to-renewal journey.”

New Professional Services (PS) Cloud additions in the Spring 2022 release include customer-requested improvements to skills and resource management, services estimating, and project management capabilities. FinancialForce’s customers have also requested improved resource management to scale their efforts to train and retain their workforce. As a result, the Spring 2022 Release adds intelligent automation to the staffing process by enabling auto-assignment of resource requests that meet specific criteria and an expanded capability to model ideal staffing scenarios across a project, opportunity, or region. These enhancements improve PS Cloud’s resource optimization capabilities and enable resource managers to deploy ever larger and more complex teams efficiently and cost-effectively.

Conclusion

Services organizations are looking for cloud-based professional services ERP systems that deliver greater forecast accuracy, faster forecasting and budgeting, and improved accountability, visibility, and control. Integrated clouds are the future of FP&A for all these factors and the need all services organizations have to improve revenue and operations performance. In addition, given the growing economic uncertainty today, CFOs also want to increase better predictability and better risk management strategies while also supporting more collaboration. All these factors combined are defining the future of FP&A in an integrated cloud, which is what FinancialForce has been doing for decades on the Salesforce platform.

How Services CPQ Helps Close Revenue Gaps

How Services CPQ Helps Close Revenue Gaps

Bottom Line: Professional services (PS) organizations need to close the gaps in their CPQ selling strategies to win more deals, capture more revenue and protect margins from ongoing price pressure.

Why Services CPQ Is Too Slow Today

When PS organizations compete in sales cycles, the first competitor to have a complete quote with accurate pricing, schedules, and an engagement plan will often win. However, getting a complete quote out fast is a major challenge for most PS organizations today. Many PS organizations manually create their quotes by taking into account a broad base of factors that include the following: talent profiles of employees and the market value of their skills; utilization rates; direct and indirect engagement costs; typical gross margins by type of engagement; and, competitive pricing. The average PS organization takes six weeks to deliver a quote or proposal. John Ragsdale’s excellent recent article Automating Services Quote-to-Cash: Emergence of CPQ for Services provides useful insights into what needs to change for PS quoting and selling to increase its velocity.

Getting Services CPQ Right Is Hard

Gaps that drain revenue and margin grow wider when PS organizations attempt to use product-centric CPQ platforms to sell services. Too often, PS organizations attempt to wedge their quoting, pricing, and revenue management into a product-based CPQ system – and get mediocre results at best. Earlier in my career, I led a product management team that defined, created, and launched a quoting system for professional services inside a large IT organization. The most valuable lessons learned from that experience include the following:

  • PS bundles only work if they have simple, solid direct cost structures. Adding a synthetic SKU that represents a PS bundle only works for the most simple, automated PS engagements. Think of those PS engagements with long-standing direct cost structures that are simple, clear and easy to implement. Attempting to group PS bundles can easily lead to quoting mistakes that drain margin when a product-centric CPQ system is used for PS.
  • The greater the differences in PS revenue management, the more the need for a new CPQ platform. Many PS organizations are making a mistake by attempting to make product-centric CPQ platforms work for their unique costing, pricing, and selling needs. My team and I learned that the more a PS revenue model is unique and one-of-a-kind, the more it requires a unique CPQ platform.
  • Getting product-based CPQ rules and constraint logic right is hard in PS. Our teams’ biggest challenge in recycling IT’s CPQ app for PS was how difficult it was to get the rules-based engine to work for the wide variety of variables in a common service engagement. Rules created for transaction velocity needed to be reworked for greater variety. PS engagements didn’t follow a common logic structure like a product, making the constraint logic code only somewhat usable.
  • Only launch after CRM and Revenue Management integration is complete. Our team was handed a project that had languished in IT for nearly a year because PS selling teams wouldn’t use it. The problem was that the quoting module ran batch updates to a series of databases to get customer records and fetch the latest price tables off of a mainframe. In addition, CPQ wasn’t connected in real-time to CRM or Revenue Management.

Closing Long-Standing Services CPQ Gaps

The more a Services CPQ app can close the gaps between CRM, PSA, Revenue Management, and CPQ apps and their workflows, the more effective it will be stopping margin and revenue leakage. Having APIs that share data in real-time between CRM, PSA, and Revenue Management within each quote creation session has the potential to save thousands of hours a year. FinancialForce’s recently announced Services CPQ shows how a platform-based integration strategy works. The following graphic shows how revenue potential increases as a Services CPQ’s systems become more integrated.

How Services CPQ Helps Close Revenue Gaps

FinancialForce’s approach to taking on the challenge of providing an enterprise-grade Services CPQ is noteworthy for several reasons, including the following:

  • Real-time visibility and control of Services CPQ Effectiveness. Having Services CPQ, PSA and Revenue Management on the same Salesforce platform provides the visibility and control PS sales managers need to track quoting effectiveness by program, geography, customer segment, and rep. The more real-time the data integration across these systems the greater the potential for revenue growth in existing accounts and winning new ones.
  • Changing professional services quotes in real-time without impacting sales cycles is possible. Due to the integrated design of Services CPQ, one change made anywhere on a quote will replicate through the entire system and change all related factors immediately.
  • Getting in control of professional services engagement dates and utilization rates by associates helps reduce time-to-market and assures better time-to-customer performance. Keeping track of the myriad of factors that influence a services quote using a manually-based process is too slow for how quickly engagements are decided. Instead, having a single, unified data model that can track effectiveness and provide updates on how they impact engagement project plans is needed to excel at selling with Services CPQ. Adopting an agile CPQ strategy that relies on an integration thread to unify all systems is the secret to scaling and selling more with an agile approach to services CPQ.
  • Pricing needs to be one of the core strengths in an integrated Services CPQ platform. Realizing how a customers’ requested changes to a professional services engagement will impact costs and margins gives PS teams with an integrated system a formidable pricing advantage. FinancialForce’s approach to solving the Services CPQ challenge shows the potential to take on this challenge and provide its PS customers with the insights they need to upsell engagements – and not lose margin doing it.
  • A must-have for any Services CPQ platform is support for channel partner collaboration and team quoting. For any Services CPQ to scale up and deliver its full potential value, there needs to be support for customizing partner selling experiences while providing for team selling and quoting. FinancialForce solves this by relying on the Salesforce platform. By closing the gaps between the systems Services CPQ relies on, the channel selling teams and partners gain greater flexibility in defining customized products.

Conclusion

Services CPQ needs to scale out on a platform to achieve its full potential by providing the analytical insights to track engagement lifecycles and customer lifetime value by engagement. FinancialForce has proven they can do this in their Spring 2021 release. Taking on the most challenging aspects of a Services CPQ architecture starts by providing insights and guidance on how best to optimize the mix of associates and their utilization and billing rates, locations of each engagement, margin threshold levels, and the expected duration of each engagement. Additionally, the world’s leading professional services organizations could use an automated Services CPQ solution as many of them don’t rely on enough data, letting revenue leakage happen without knowing it.

 

FinancialForce’s Spring 2021 Release Shows Why Being Customer-Centric Pays

FinancialForce's Spring 2021 Release Shows Why Being Customer-Centric Pays

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.  

FinancialForce's Spring 2021 Release Shows Why Being Customer-Centric Pays
Knowing every customer’s impact on revenue and profitability from all revenue streams will make managing services engagements much more accurate, easier to manage, and more profitable. 

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.

Conclusion

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.

How FinancialForce Is Using AI To Fight Revenue Leakage

How FinancialForce Is Using AI To Fight Revenue Leakage

Bottom Line: Using AI to measure and predict revenue, costs, and margin across all Professional Services (PS) channels leads to greater accuracy in predicting payment risks, project overruns, and service forecasts, reducing revenue leakage in the process.

Professional Services’ Revenue Challenges Are Complex

Turning time into revenue and profits is one of the greatest challenges of running a Professional Services (PS) business. What makes it such a challenge is incomplete time tracking data and how quickly revenue leaks spring up, drain margins, and continue unnoticed for months. Examples of revenue leaks across a customers’ life cycles include the following:

  • Billing errors are caused by the booking and contract process not being in sync with each other leading to valuable time being wasted.
  • When products are bundled with services, there’s often confusion over recognizing each revenue source, when, and by which PS metric.
  • Inconsistent, inaccurate project cost estimates and actual activity lead to inaccurate forecasting, delaying the project close and the potential for bad debt write-offs and high Days Sales Outstanding (DSO).
  • Revenue leakage gains momentum and drains margins when the following happens:
    • Un-forecasted delays and timescale creep
    • Reduced utilization rates across each key resource required for the project to be completed
    • Invoice and billing errors that result in invoice disputes that turn into high DSOs & write-offs
    • Incorrect pricing versus the costs of sales & service often leads to customer churn.
    • Revenue leakage gains momentum as each of these factors further drains margin

Adding up all these examples and many more can easily add up to 20-30% of actual lost solution and services margin. In many ways, it’s like death by a thousand small cuts. The following graphic provides examples across the customer lifecycle:

How FinancialForce Is Using AI To Fight Revenue Leakage

Why Professional Services Are Especially Vulnerable To Revenue Leakage 

Selling projects and the promise of their outcomes in the future create a unique series of challenges for PS organizations when it comes to controlling revenue leakage. It often starts with inaccurately scoping a project too aggressively to win the deal, only to determine the complexity of tasks originally budgeted for will take 10 – 30% longer or more. Disconnects on project scope are unfortunately too common, turning small revenue leaks into major ones and the potential of long Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) on invoices. When revenue leaks get ingrained in a project’s structure, they continue to cascade into each subsequent phase, growing and costing more than expected.

The SPI 2021 Professional Services Maturity™ Benchmark Service published by Services Performance Insight, LLC in February of this year provides insights into the hidden costs and prevalence of revenue leakage. The following table illustrates how organizations with high levels of revenue leakage also perform badly against other key metrics, including client referencability. The more revenue leakage an organization experiences, the more billable utilization drops, on-time project deliveries become worse, and executive real-time visibility becomes poorer.

How FinancialForce Is Using AI To Fight Revenue Leakage

How FinancialForce Is Using AI To Fight Revenue Leakage

It’s noteworthy that FinancialForce is now on its 12th consecutive product release that includes Salesforce Einstein, and many customers, including Five9, are using AI to manage revenue leakage across their PS business. Throughout the pandemic, the FinancialForce DevOps, product management, and software quality teams have been a machine, creating rich new releases on schedule and with improved AI functionality based on Einstein. The 12th release includes prebuilt data models, lenses, dashboards, and reports.

Andy Campbell, Solution Evangelist at FinancialForce, says that “FinancialForce customers have access to best practices to minimize revenue leakage by scoping and selling the right product and services mix to allocating the optimal range and amount of services personnel and finally billing, collecting and recognizing the right amount of revenue for services provided.” Andy continued, saying that recent dashboards have been built for resource managers to automate demand and capacity planning and service revenue forecasting and assist financial analysts in managing deferred revenue and revenue leakage.

By successfully integrating Einstein into their ERP system for PS organizations, FinancialForce helps clients find new ways to reduce revenue leakage and preserve margin. Relying on AI-based insights for each phase of a PS engagement delivered a 20% increase in Customer Lifetime Value according to a FinancialForce customer. And by combining FinancialForce and Salesforce, customers see an increased bid:win ratio of 10% or more. The following graphic illustrates how combining the capabilities of Einstein’s AI platform with FinancialForce delivers results.

How FinancialForce Is Using AI To Fight Revenue Leakage

Conclusion

FinancialForce’s model building in Einstein is based on ten years of structured and unstructured data, aggregated and anonymized, then used for in-tuning AI models. FinancialForce says these models are used as starting points or templates for AI-based products and workflows, including predict to pay.  Salesforce has also done the same for its Sales Cloud Analytics and Service Cloud Analytics. In both cases, Salesforce and FinancialForce customers benefit from best practices and recommendations based on decades of data, which should be particularly interesting considering the “black swan” nature of 2020 data for most of their customers.

6 Ways Cloud ERP Is Revolutionizing How Services Deliver Results

  • 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. FinancialForceKenandy 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.
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