Intacct partners with Salesforce.com, Clarizen on cloud ERP

Intacct's cloud-based financials software will be integrated with Salesforce.com's CRM application and project management software from Clarizen

Intacct is hoping to build on its stake in the cloud ERP (enterprise resource planning) market via a three-way integration with Salesforce.com's CRM (customer relationship management) application and project management software from Clarizen.

The strategy is also meant to target professional services companies that are based on project work, such as architects, marketing firms, builders, and systems integrators.

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The integration was announced Tuesday as part of Intacct's latest quarterly update to its financials software, which also includes some 225 improvements, according to the company. It also comes as privately held Intacct experiences significant growth, having added more than 1,000 customers this year, bringing its total to more than 5,000 said Dan Druker, senior vice president of marketing and business development.

Intacct has also aggressively grown its channel partner roster, adding about 100 so far this year, Druker said. These include VARs that have traditionally sold midmarket ERP applications from Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, and Deltek, as well as large accounting firms, he added.

Unlike other cloud ERP vendors, such as Workday, Intacct is focused strictly on smaller and midmarket companies, Druker said. It is seeing most of its direct competition from NetSuite, according to Druker.

NetSuite is taking a somewhat different approach to broadening its functional footprint than Intacct. It has its own CRM software as well as a development platform that it and partners are using to build industry-specific extensions. One benefit of that approach can be a uniform user experience as well as the potential for tighter integration between various modules.

But Intacct's decision to instead partner with Clarizen and Salesforce.com makes sense in its own right, Druker said. "We don't think we can build better CRM than Salesforce.com, we don't think we can build better project management software than Clarizen, but we know we make great financials software."

Moreover, the integration between each application is quite deep and allows various users, from project managers to accountants and salespeople, "to work with the tool that's right for them," said Dan Miller, vice president of product management.

Data is synchronized between Salesforce.com, Intacct and Clarizen in a way that provides relevant information for each end user. For example, a project manager working in Clarizen would receive data from Salesforce.com showing that a new deal has been signed, thereby letting the manager know they need to start assigning or hiring staff.

Intacct is now a direct distributor of Clarizen, and companies can buy the combined package from the company starting at $1,500 per month plus user fees. Support for both applications is handled by Intacct. However, customers need to contract with Salesforce.com separately.

One observer expressed a measured view of Intacct's strategy.

The vendor's partner-heavy model "plays well with the midmarket," which is used to buying software from local companies rather than a far-away vendor, said Frank Scavo, managing partner of the IT consulting firm Strativa.

But the Salesforce.com-Clarizen integration needs to be tested in the field, he added. "It sounds good on paper, and it certainly is a way to build out your functional footprint rapidly, but is the customer experience going to be as seamless as it looks on paper?"

Other new features in the release include real-time information on the total cost of a project; automated invoicing and milestone-based billing; improved value-added tax handling; a revamped, "consumerized" user experience; and an application marketplace where customers can buy add-ons from Intacct partners.

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

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