IT management, MSP

FinancialForce Launches PSA Communities

What if there was a way for MSPs and IT service providers to interact with customers, partners and subcontractors on specific IT projects? The new FinancialForce Professional Services Communities aims to do exactly that.

FinancialForce PSA Communities is "a social project management platform for professional services organizations (PSOs), their customers and partners." It's built on the Salesforce Community Cloud. The ultimate goal: Give all parties -- IT service providers, their partners and their customers -- real-time visibility into projects.

Among the potential benefits: Reducing and/or eliminating back-and-forth emails on status updates, budgeting and other time-consuming, administrative tasks, FinancialForce asserts.

FinancialForce Professional Services Communities: What's Inside?

Lori Ellsworth
Lori Ellsworth

FinancialForce, which claims to be the fastest-growing cloud PSA platform, says the community platform also offers:

  • Document sharing along with version control;
  • Partner visibility allowing MSPs and IT service providers to share data with partners and subcontractors; each party can enter time and expenses directly into the system;
  • Access rights so that specific parties can only see specifically approved project areas;
  • White label branding;
  • Social collaboration built atop's Chatter; and
  • mobile access.

Lori Ellsworth, general manager of professional services automation at FinancialForce, walked me through the system last week. It looks pretty slick though I realize demos and actual experiences can vary.

PSA for MSPs, IT Service Providers

FinancialForce is a general-purpose PSA system -- built for all types of service organizations. Generally speaking, VARs and MSPs are more familiar with purpose-built systems like Autotask, ConnectWise, Tigerpaw Software and an emerging set of alternatives.

No doubt, the word "community" means different things to different people in the PSA and IT services sector. For ConnectWise, it often means the IT Nation conference, regional user groups and ConnectWise University. For Autotask, it typically means Autotask Community Live along with the company's cloud-based services. For Tigerpaw, community typically means Tigerpaw Conference and online training.

For the most part, the interactions involve MSP-to-MSP education. Frankly, I'm not sure if those respective PSA systems allow MSPs to collaborate and track projects with each end customer and/or subcontractors in real-time. (I'm checking.)

Shifting PSA Landscape

Overall, the PSA market continues to evolve. ConnectWise was the first major PSA provider to own an RMM (remote monitoring and management) platform; rivals like Autotask, Kaseya and SolarWinds N-able have since followed with their own "single vendor" PSA-RMM solutions.

I don't see FinancialForce going that route. But the company does have growing momentum with IT service providers, according to a customer list I saw as part of the communities briefing.

Meanwhile, the list of PSA alternatives also continues to grow.

On the one hand, I'm not sure the IT services provider market can support so many different options. But on the other, the overall PSA market is expected to double between 2014 and 2016, according to Grand View Research.

Clearly, FinancialForce sees online collaboration as its path to more market share...

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.