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    11 / 20 / 2014

    How We Work: Social Collaboration across Processes and Departments

    CollaborationWe began a series of articles about How We Work nearly a year ago, where we touched on the history of workflow, the effect of technology on workflow and collaboration, and the impact of social media-style collaboration software on how we work together. Right around the time we posted about social media and collaboration tools, we began to use and experiment with Salesforce Chatter here at AcctTwo. 

    We did this in part because of the advantages that the collaboration tool could provide for our sales and support teams, but also in anticipation of Intacct's integration of Chatter into its accounting software (we're an Intacct partner and value-added reseller).

    Well that integration has arrived - it's called Intacct Collaborate, and we thought we'd share some thoughts on the subject. Stay tuned as we post more about how it's received here within the company. We are most definitely excited about it, both as a sales differentiator and as a tool we can use within our own organization.

    So Many Social Collaboration Options

    There is no shortage of social collaboration software for businesses these days, both from start-ups (Huddle.net and Convo, for example) and within bigger enterprise software providers (Microsoft's Yammer and SAP's Jam). A cursory internet search for a list of key players in this burgeoning market found me instantly overwhelmed. Every article seemed to have a different list. All the bloggers touted them as the next big wave in productivity. Meanwhile the comments sections were full of naysayers telling us they think that Outlook does just fine!

    As a telecommuter, I can tell you that chatting or instant messaging with Chatter can be a much needed alternative to email and phone tag. It's also nice to have conversation threads so readily visible, instead of buried within email folders. We've used Chatter as a tool for broadcasting company-wide announcements. The ability to "follow" people like one does on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn is helpful too, but more helpful is the ability to follow records. We can follow leads, sales opportunities, support cases, client accounts, as well as documentation so that we can keep up with the latest on whatever we need to keep up with.

    This functionality seems simple and, for long-time Facebook users, it's probably a no-brainer, but for those of us non-millenials, it can be a productivity game-changer.

    Less Sizzle Maybe, but More Steak

    So the various new collaboration tools are in an arms race of functionality. I watched a demo of the application, Convo, and was truly amazed at what the tool can do - all the Facebook-style functionality plus incredible real-time document editing, image cropping, highlighting and underlining even external web pages, and manipulating Google Maps.

    But while these bells and whistles are impressive and useful in some situations and within certain industries, what impresses me most about Chatter and its integration with Intacct's accounting and financial management software is not that it does specific tricks, but that it can tie together an entire enterprise. From Marketing to Sales to Implementation/Delivery to Support to Finance and Accounting, Intacct Collaborate and Chatter connect the customer records from start to finish.

    Instead of spawning separate and external email threads, employees can conduct conversations right inside Intacct’s cloud financial management application, directly on specific records such as journal entries, accounts, projects, invoices, purchase requisitions, and more. For companies leveraging Intacct’s tight integration with Salesforce Sales Cloud, conversations appear simultaneously in both systems – enabling Sales to collaborate from the system they spend the most time in, while Finance has access to the conversations from the accounting system of record they work in. Even customers can get involved. We outsource accounting processes using the Intacct platform, and Intacct Collaborate will allow us a new level of interaction and collaboration with our clients.

    Best-in-Class Gets Even Better

    This is more than just a sales pitch - this continues to justify a philosophy. We believe in the cloud and we believe in the best-in-class approach, where organizations can pick and choose the best solution for each of their business needs, knowing they will integrate and work together in a best-in-class SaaS ecoystem, like Intacct does with Salesforce and so many other applications. For those leaning toward a suite solution like NetSuite or a legacy system like MS Dynamics or SAP, just know that you don't have to give up choice for enterprise-wide functionality, compatibility, OR collaboration.

     


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