Community Member Spotlight: Andrew Morse on making the most of a strong user community
The FinancialForce Community is the de facto place for customers, partners, and FinancialForce employees to share, exchange, and answer questions to help each other with product and business success.
As with any community, it wouldn’t be possible without people like Andrew Morse, Systems Administrator at Longbottom Coffee & Tea and one of our most active members. Andrew has been a member since we launched in 2014 and has since become an integral part of the Community. In this special interview, we asked him about his involvement with FinancialForce Community, how he uses the forum to benefit his business, and his experience with FinancialForce solutions.
Andrew: I have lived in Portland all my life and studied journalism at the University of Oregon but was always passionate about computers and using technology in creative ways to solve business challenges and enrich our experiences. I am also an avid amateur musician and play guitar, mandolin, melodica, piano, and ukulele. Uke is my current favorite. I believe that playing music sharpens your mind and is a great stress reliever. Everyone should do it!
Tell us a little about Longbottom Tea & Coffee and your role there.
Andrew: Longbottom has been roasting premium specialty coffee for independent coffee businesses all over the U.S. since 1981. We source the very best beans available, working with trusted importers to ensure that this food is grown, processed, stored and transported with the utmost care. We were also one of the first coffee roasters in the U.S. to be certified as a USDA/NOP organic processor.
I am a Systems Administrator, Salesforce Administrator, and our Organic Compliance Officer. I work closely with leadership to ensure all our systems support our strategic goals. Salesforce and FinancialForce play a key role in that success.
Which FinancialForce products do you use and what benefits do you see from them?
Andrew: We added Salesforce in 2011 and FinancialForce in 2013. I was involved in the initial implementation and migration from our previous ERP/accounting platform (Sage/Accpac).
Longbottom uses the FinancialForce Accounting (FFA) and Supply Chain Management (SCM) applications to run our daily operations. As a food processor in an increasingly challenging regulatory environment, these apps play a key role in maintaining the integrity and quality of our coffee and meeting the diverse needs of our customers.
We selected the SCM apps to solve the many technical challenges around sourcing our coffee and managing our small batch, made-to-order production process. On the accounting side, we run multiple brands as separate companies and the FFA multi-company and object model was a better fit for our inter-company accounting than our previous ERP solution.
Being able to customize our business accounting to fit our process instead of the reverse is very important to us.
How important do you think communities are these days in terms of helping product users become successful?
Andrew: A strong user community is essential to hosted solutions, particularly those that employ an agile development philosophy. A customer-centric business model depends on us as customers providing frequent feedback to help set priorities and get the most benefit from each new version.
Are you a member of any communities other than the FinancialForce Community?
Andrew: Salesforce Community Ohana is also a huge asset to our business and to my own personal development as an IT professional. It was one of the primary reasons we selected Salesforce in the first place, and going with FinancialForce was a logical extension of that decision.
I actually participate in groups related to just about any product or service I use personally or professionally. Online support forums are usually the first thing I look at when I am evaluating any software product. One of the hallmarks of a good company for me is an active and engaged user base.
How often would you say that you visit the FinancialForce Community?
Andrew: I rely on push notifications on topics I am interested in. I would say I check in multiple times each week depending on what sorts of questions or ideas get posted. Sometimes I may simply connect to bookmark a new post or idea.
What compels you to contribute?
Andrew: You can learn a lot from the real world experiences of users. These are usually the best way to keep abreast of developments and get the greatest benefit from any product or service. Since I get a lot of value from the contributions of others, I want to pay that forward.
What would you say is the most valuable part of being a member of our Community?
Andrew: I get a lot of benefit from the questions that people post. It may not directly relate to us at the time, but they will often get you thinking proactively about problems or solutions I may not have thought of or encountered yet. Everyone has unique business challenges, but I can usually get something of value from every post, even if it is just learning about FinancialForce products we haven’t added yet. Our adoption of Conga was driven in large part by recommendations from other community members. FinancialForce ClickLink would be another example. I find a lot of value in learning about changes in each new version and what ideas and cases are solved.
Which area would you say you use the most?
Andrew: Probably the product-specific group discussions and the online knowledge base. We open a fair number of cases too when we get stuck on something not covered by group discussions or FAQs.
Can you give us an example of the kind of value you’ve received from our Community?
Andrew: After we migrated, we spent a lot of time getting oriented and learning the conceptual differences of FFA from our previous accounting package. Asking questions and reading others’ questions helped accelerate that process for us. Some simple tweaks like the sidebar company selector widget and customizing the SCM action queues made a big difference. Community discussion helped me quickly adopt FinancialForce Action Views (reporting) and Personalized Input Forms too.
What tips do you have for newer members, or people not yet engaged there, on how to get the most out of the FinancialForce Community?
Andrew: Use the search function and collect key terms and tags from posts you find valuable. Use these to make your searches more effective. Searching before posting will often help you find relevant information previously shared. One challenge of online forums is the tendency for the same or slightly different questions to get posed and answered in different threads. This makes it harder to gather information. If I can find a relevant thread and post there, I have a greater chance of getting a response. It increases the visibility of the conversation and makes it easier for others to engage with you and helps FFA learn what common challenges their customers are experiencing.
The same thing goes for ideas. Search them first and consider voting and commenting on existing ideas that are already on the radar of support. Look at the status of an idea which is already under initial review or better yet “Included In Release!” Finding related ideas and viewing their status lets me know if I can add anything of value to the process or not.
Follow active community members to get useful tips and information. This includes FFA staff who are active too!
Thank you for reading! If you are a FinancialForce customer and not yet in the Community, you can find us here!