Magazine article CRM Magazine

Sales-Finance Synergy in the Cloud Leads to Growth, Efficiency and Profitability

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Sales-Finance Synergy in the Cloud Leads to Growth, Efficiency and Profitability

Article excerpt

Sales and finance have traditionally been two distinct business functions with seemingly very different missions. One drives revenue, the other watches the bottom line. They're often even at odds: sales can view the targets and restrictions imposed by finance as barriers to its own objectives. Conversely, finance is concerned with credit checks, billing accuracy and recording transactions in accordance with accepted practices.

But the best-run companies today are discovering synergies between the two that lead to greater growth, efficiency and profitability.

In the past, online sales tools like CRM have been separate from accounting software, which has traditionally been in the back office and required significant infrastructure and maintenance to keep it up to date and running.

But today's cloud computing tools, primarily from salesforce.com, make it easier than ever before to merge the two functions. Instant access and response times and collaboration tools make it possible to view a single customer from numerous perspectives. Sales and Finance can work together to understand customer credit balances, invoice more efficiently and accurately, and collect cash more quickly. That not only benefits the company, it can improve customer service as well.

In fact, in the cloud, the customer is No. 1, as it should be. All the functions that work towards revenue and profitability--including marketing, professional services automation, orders and billing and others--can coordinate seamlessly together to achieve common strategies and goals.

Furthermore, the interconnectedness of functions enables multi-layered, multidimensional analyses that wouldn't be possible any other way. But to achieve that capability calls for a world-class financial accounting tool that complements the capability of the Force.com environment.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

NIMBUS: A NIMBLE CLOUD ACCOUNTING USER

One company that has seen the benefits of using cloud accounting software in conjunction with CRM is Nimbus Partnerships. Nimbus provides Business Process Management software and proven implementation methodology, training and consulting services to clients globally from its 10 offices around the world and through its certified partners.

Up until April 2010, Nimbus relied heavily on Salesforce CRM on the front end and Excel and Sage Line 50 for its financial applications. Lucy Mills, Product and Partner Manager, estimated that 65% of the company's critical accounting information resided in Excel spreadsheets and the rest in Sage Line 50. The systems tapped only about 5% using of the customer information contained in Salesforce CRM.

"We didn't share information apart from what was contained in some Excel spreadsheets," she says. "Sales would only see around 10% of the data they needed, and that's if they could make sense of the massive Excel sheets. Even then, the data wasn't always accurate, since each department was capturing the same information at different points. Sales would raise a new opportunity and a purchase order. If those matched--and often even if they didn't--finance would raise an invoice and add it to an Excel spreadsheet. The Word version would be scanned and posted into our Sage accounting system, and then we would update Salesforce CRM manually. Now all we have to do is to check that the opportunity matches the invoice and click a button."

Last year, Nimbus turned to FinancialForce Accounting, the first cloud computing accounting solution on the Force.com platform and designed specifically for Salesforce CRM customers. After just 10 months, the company is already seeing a significant business impact. Highlights include:

* A single Salesforce CRM system supports multiple finance departments throughout the organization, unified through cross-company reporting

* Shared data improves data integrity and enables rapid real-time data access

* Dashboards and monthly management and board reports are delivered on-demand

* One-button access improves efficiency

* Dual currency support and deferred revenue accounting provide optimal support for an international business offering a flexible range of pricing terms and delivery models

* Invoices that used to take 45 minutes to produce are now done in just seconds

Mills says that the process of moving to cloud accounting and centralizing its systems has shown Nimbus that there is no need to keep the sales teams away from financial data. …

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