While at DreamForce recently I took the opportunity to sit down and talk with BlueWolf a business process and strategy consultancy that does a lot of work with mid sized and enterprise customers helping them move their IT to a more agile way of doing things. BlueWolf has some 3000 customers across tech, financial services and media and has, for the past 12 years or so, its 700 or so consultants have been focused on three distinct areas;
- Salesforce implementations
- IT recruiting
- Managed services
I sat down for a discussion with Paulo Kaiser, COO of BlueWolf to understand their progression as an organization, and their use of cloud tools to help them grow. Until recently, BlueWolf was using QuickBooks, a manual expense management system, Salesforce for CRM and OpenAir as their professional services product. They’ve changed the way they do things however having moved financials to FinancialForce, and PSA to a custom application they created themselves of Force.com. Expenses have been moved to Concur.
In discussions with Kaiser, he identified the following benefits, problem areas and opportunities for the spread of products they’re using:
- With ten offices worldwide, moving to a cloud based financial system has improved performance. Previously BlueWolf was closing its monthly books about 20 days after month-end. Kaiser reports that the move to FinancialForce, and the ability to work on the books across the distributed offices has seen the time taken to close books half
- Invoicing is quicker and cheaper than before – by using the financial and PSA tools on a common platform, BlueWolf has the ability to give sales and credit staff insights into each others area. This cross-departmental visibility has reduced credit issues by allowing Sales and consulting staff to flag credit issues with customers during their regular contacts
- BlueWolf has seen the real breakdown of siloes – by adopting a consistent platform, data is able to be presented in actionable contexts across the organization
- One key failing of the platform is the real lack of analytics – BlueWolf would find it very useful to be able to gain analytical insights across the different products and departments
- Interestingly BlueWolf doesn’t use the FinancialForce PSA offering, Kaiser put this down mainly to the fact that it was, until it was acquired by FinancialForce recently, a product created and offered by Appirio. As such BlueWolf was loathe to embrace it. Beyond this however Kaiser did allude to the fact that their PSA requirements were not able to be completely met by the product, hence building an offering themselves.
The BlueWolf story is a copybook example of the benefits of cloud – of course BlueWold is a company that makes its money selling cloud products and hence could be expected to be an enthusiastic evangelist for the move – that said, numbers don’t lie and the benefits that BlueWolf is seeing in terms of efficiency and financial outputs is persuasive.
In terms of glaring holes – I’ve thought for awhile that analytics is an area that Salesforce needs to spend a lot of attention on. As a real enterprise IT platform player, it needs an analytics offering that sits across its entire platform – something that can identify patterns and draw insights across different product areas. In the same way that single sign on was an obvious (and recently announced) area of development for the company, I’m picking that the next 12 months will see this area built out strongly.
There’s always areas that a platform needs to improve upon but what impressed me most about the BlueWolf story is the way they’re using the salesforce ecosystem the way its been evangelized now for a couple of years – Force.com applications, third party offerings on the AppExchange alongside the core Salesforce offerings are all delivering integrated benefits to the company.
(Cross-posted @ The Diversity Blog - SaaS, Cloud & Business Strategy)