deepens integration with

The Summer '12 release of's cloud software is now tied into's Service Cloud has broadened its integration with, now tying into its Service Cloud customer-service software, the company announced Tuesday. and Unit 4 Agresso formed in 2009 as a joint venture.'s applications for accounting and professional services organizations are built on top of's development platform, and had previously been tied into its core CRM (customer relationship management) application.

It made sense to connect's accounting software to the Service Cloud, said Tom Brennan, vice president of marketing, in an interview.

For one, has said the Service Cloud is now a US$500 million business, which shows clear demand from customers, Brennan said.

In addition, "There's a lot a lot of financial activity coming from call centers and service desks," he said. "Companies are moving a lot of billable work to their call centers. There's chargeable activity coming off call centers. Companies are trying to make call centers more profitable." He cited the example of a tech company up-selling premium services to users that call into customer-support lines for help with a problem.

The integration between accounting and the Service cloud does away with the need to create special invoices and the manual sharing of documents between call center workers and finance, Brennan said. "Now when you're in the Service Cloud, you can create a case, push it into the workflow, and then into accounts receivable."

In another scenario, the service representative could automatically create a credit memo in order to resolve a customer complaint, according to's target audience for its accounting software are smaller and midsized companies which have outgrown QuickBooks, Brennan said.

But the professional services automation application can scale up to enterprise levels "very easily," he added. "Lots of product companies have added services arms. They've got 1,000 consultants and they're still using spreadsheets." competes on the PSA front with the likes of NetSuite's OpenAir. The various benefits of running on the platform, such as the ability to exploit its dashboarding, reporting and Chatter collaboration software, give the edge, Brennan said. "It comes down to, which cloud do you want to be on?"

An update to the PSA application was also announced Tuesday, with improvements including tools that help companies analyze their utilization rates, or the percentage of time employees are spending on billable tasks. is still in somewhat limited global availability, primarily being marketed and supported in English-speaking countries, Brennan said.

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

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