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FinancialForce.com repositions itself as the latest cloud ERP player

The joint venture between Salesforce.com and Unit 4 heads to battle with NetSuite, SAP and others

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Salesforce.com-backed FinancialForce.com is taking a leap into the burgeoning market for cloud-based ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, offering a suite that combines its core finance software with modules for human resources, supply chain management, procurement and other areas.

FinancialForce.com gained much of these capabilities through a series of acquisitions in the past year or so, including Vana Workforce and Less Software. Both of those companies built their products, like FinancialForce.com, on Salesforce.com's Force.com platform, and even before the acquisitions there was a level of integration between the three, FinancialForce.com CEO Jeremy Roche said in an interview.

The ERP suite announced Thursday also includes the professional services automation software it bought from Appirio. That application, too, is built on Force.com.

While FinancialForce.com has had all the suite's pieces for some time now, Thursday's announcement is meant to cement the company's strategic direction, Roche said. It also reflects the additional work FinancialForce.com has done to give the different modules a common look and feel.

If Roche had it his way, he might not even call the suite ERP. That term "is what the market understands," but can also be evocative of "backward-looking technology," he said. FinancialForce.com's ERP should be viewed as a software suite that is tightly integrated with Salesforce.com and "designed to speak to the customer," Roche added.

FinancialForce.com isn't trying to cover all types of ERP, such as manufacturing. "We're still of a partner mindset," Roche said, referring to manufacturing-specific cloud ERP such as Rootsock.

Nor does Roche expect customers to remove their existing ERP systems and install the full breadth of FinancialForce.com's suite. Customers will be able to start with one or two modules and add more as they desire.

"There should be less rip and replace cycles," Roche said. If a customer wants to buy it all, that's fine. But customers should come to this from someplace that's driving their business." For example, a company might sign up for FinancialForce.com's professional services software and later decide to add the financial component.

FinancialForce.com is the result of a joint venture Salesforce.com made with Unit4 in 2009.

While saying growth is substantial, Roche declined to reveal how many customers FinancialForce.com has now or its revenue.

Most customers are in industries that tend to involve lots of direct interaction with customers, such as services, he said.

While FinancialForce.com has a global currency engine, the software isn't fully localized. Most customers remain in North America, Canada, the UK and New Zealand, with some growth in mainland Europe, Roche said.

Further localization is a priority, but at the same time "we've got a long way to go in the core markets we're established in," Roche added.

Pricing for FinancialForce.com ERP varies depending on the mix of modules a customer chooses.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com



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