The grants management application space is pretty small. There’s Fluxx, FoundationConnect and various incarnations of GIFTS; maybe I’m forgetting a few others. A lot of our foundation customers use Salesforce for their Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) function. Not surprisngly, many of these foundations also use FoundationConnect for grants management. If your foundation is one of those, you’ll want to read on.
The roundCorner Acquisition
The blog post about the acquisition has the usual everything-is-great tone to it. But not far below the surface, it says some interesting things. By my reading of the post, customers were not happy with what they were getting from roundCorner. Most of what’s said has to do with NGO Connect and not FoundationConnect. But the rather frank admission that customers were not happy with the product makes me think that this acquisition was about protecting the Salesforce brand among non-profit’s and non-governmental organizations.
Acquisitions tend to happen for one of three reasons.
- Technology. The acquiring company wants to buy its way into a technical area. Examples would include Google/Nest and Adobe/Marketo.
- People. The acquiring company wants the staff (especially the engineering staff) at the acquired company. This is common in the world of technology startups. There’s even a word–“acqui-hire”–for it.
- Customers. The acquiring company wants to buy market share by acquiring the customers of another company. Oracle/Peoplesoft would be one example.
My take is that this acquisition was about customers, though more as a defensive move. Cloud4Good/Salesforce.org essentially said that this market segment is too important for them to risk customers leaving the salesforce platform for some other solution (NetSuite? Microsoft Dynamics?) because they can’t get what they want from roundCorner.
Should FoundationConnect Customers Worry?
What’s this mean for FoundationConnect customers? It may be beneficial if Salesforce.org can devote technical resources to FoundationConnect. It may be neutral if FoundationConnect is left to continue humming along. It’s possible that Salesforce.org might look to migrate customers to its Nonprofit Success Pack. FoundationConnect customers would be wise to learn more about Nonprofit Success Pack and talk to their Salesforce salespeople to see if there are any changes planned for FoundationConnect. If FoundationConnect isn’t working for you, understanding the roadmap for FoundationConnect would be a good step to take. If the roadmap doesn’t appear to offer any help, then it might be time to start looking at alternative solutions.
Customize at Your Peril
I’ll leave you with this. I see lots of organizations that want to customize their solutions. “We’re unique” is the common justification. That may be, but the costs of customization last forever. And companies like NPower and roundCorner don’t have the revenues to sustain a business model built on customization. So, before you jump to customize your grants management or other application, stop and ask if you couldn’t get by with a slight modification to your workflow instead.