Appirio aims new SaaS app at large services businesses

Tool is built on top of Salesforce.com's Force.com platform, differentiating Appirio from potential rival, on-demand ERP vendor NetSuite

Appirio, a company known for helping companies adopt cloud-based software, is launching a SaaS (software as a service) application for large services providers.

The application, Appirio Professional Services Enterprise, is built on top of Force.com, the native development platform of a key Appirio partner, on-demand CRM (customer relationship management) vendor Salesforce.com.

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There is a wide array of PSA (professional services automation) offerings available in the market, with many tuned for specific verticals.

To this end, Appirio has made it easy to extend and modify facets of its application's "four pillars" -- people, projects, customers, and numbers -- to suit a particular industry or business, said Ryan Nichols, vice president of product management and marketing.

Using Force.com as an underlying platform gives Appirio a leg up on other PSA vendors, since it can focus solely on application features instead of the grunt work of assembling and maintaining a technology stack, Nichols said.

Appirio's Force.com ties also differentiate the company from a potential rival, on-demand ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor NetSuite, which recently purchased two PSA vendors, OpenAir and QuickArrow.

NetSuite therefore must divide its research and development resources across multiple PSA applications, Nichols said.

Meanwhile, overall the SaaS delivery model has specific advantages for PSA applications, said Ray Wang, a partner with the analyst firm Altimeter Group.

SaaS offers faster deployment than on-premise software, which is valuable "in cases where you need to quickly put a project together," Wang said.

It is also beneficial for "cases where your team members are located far away from each other," Wang added.

Pricing for PS Enterprise starts at $45 per user per month for organizations with more than 100 users.

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