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TechMarketView: Kimble takes PSA to the Cloud

We’ve reproduced below the review which appeared today from TechMarketView on Kimble. For the full review and to read more from TechMarketView then click on the link to visit their website.

Kimble takes PSA to the cloud – by Angela Eager of TechMarketView on Wednesday 26th September 2011

With traditional software areas clogged (often with like-for-like applications), the best opportunities lie in the white space between those established offerings. That is what intrigued us about UK start-up Kimble Applications when we met the management team recently, because its professional services management application targets an area of white space between CRM, professional services automation, travel and expense management, and financial reporting solutions.

With its cloud and mobile credentials – a paid-for product built on the Salesforce.com Force platform and available from AppExchange, and freemium teaser expense applications for Android phones and the iPhone – Kimble looks, and in many ways is, like many other start-up companies benefitting from these disruptive technologies.

But in contrast to many providers on Force.com, it is tackling a complex back office area and is not just replicating the traditional approach but is engineering social networking capabilities into its application. Rethinking the application native support for social and mobile capabilities is a hallmark of new generation applications. The application also goes beyond automation – tracking the projects, resources and costs that are core to managing a professional services business – and is able to factor in multiple types of information (typically HR, financial and CRM) for real time diagnostics and KPI reporting to enable better business decision-making. Its aim is to help with business planning and visibility as well as project tracking which puts it into the ‘make information more useful’ application category rather than the transaction capture one.

It is very early days – the product was only launched on Force.com this month but leads are starting to come in. Kimble also has 10 foundation customers who paid real money for the product prior to its official launch, which is a notable achievement. Kimble also tells us it is eliciting interest from outside the professional services space.

The management team is as important as the product and Kimble’s founders have a good track record. Mark Robinson founded IT consultancy Fulcrum Solutions in 1997 with no external funding and grew it into an international business until 1999 when it was acquired for £30m. He then went on to co-found IT consultancy Edenbrook, which Hitachi snapped up in 2009. Sean Hoban has a long background in IT consultancy and was a founding employee with Fulcrum Solutions, going on to co-found the software company HindSite after Fulcrum was sold, before joining back up with Robinson at Edenbrook following the sale of HindSite.

Kimble is another member of the little British battler (LBB) club so we wish it well and will watch its progress with interest. However, we are concerned that as a back office application it will struggle to be heard amongst the front office-centric AppExchange clamor. It would benefit from being championed by Salesforce.com but Salesforce.com’s direct support for back office applications has been variable – the Unit4/Salesforce.com joint venture FinancialForce (providing enterprise financials) has only been an intermittent headline grabber. However, Salesforce.com is showing renewed interest in enterprise back office applications as indicated by its relationship with Infor (see Salesforce.com’s ERP by proxy), so the timing could work for Kimble.

Posted by Angela Eager at 07:41