Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: Workbooks

A small team of Cloud Computing entrepreneurs founded Workbooks Ltd. in 2007, realizing that future is in cloud-based technologies and applications. John Cheney (CEO), James Kay (CTO), Jenny Robb (CFO), and Edward Berks (Sales Director) were among those European business people who successfully started technology companies before 2007 but their new start-up was entirely cloud-based, offering web-based CRM and business applications delivered via Software as a Service (SaaS).

The flagship products of the UK-based company include Workbooks CRM and Workbooks Business that were developed with SaaS in mind (John Cheney founded one of the first SaaS companies in the late 1990s).
Workbooks solution features advanced CRM functionality along with traditional resources integrated in such a software product. The CRM allows recording of information related to people and organizations and enables categorization according to roles and interests. Interactions, including activities, emails, opportunities, cases, orders and invoices are showed on a single screen while activities and meetings can be recorded against any record type. The system features information and contacts sharing with systems like Outlook, Google and Lotus Notes.

Notes & Attachments module allows notes to be written utilizing a rich HTML editor and access control is provided. Workbooks CRM offers functionality to track relations between organizations and people with extended ability to track third party relationships. Built-in global search secures acceptable search-ability within the entire database created by the system.

Email templates enable users to create various types of standard email messages with the system allowing customers to send outbound email from Workbooks’ own system or through existing company email infrastructure. The product can be integrated with Outlook securing synchronization of contacts, activities and emails. Users can create custom rules regarding which records will be synchronized.

Workbooks CRM offers options to record leads in Workbooks and allocate them to individuals or queues allowing tracking against marketing campaigns. The software features web to lead capabilities, enabling users to capture leads from different websites, creating different forms to capture different types of leads. Campaigns functionality can be used to group prospects together and create targeted marketing activities. Additional feature allows users to track which leads convert into orders and invoices, a powerful tool for measuring marketing investment.

Pipeline Management and the Forecasting tool are advantageous in creating sales forecasts for different periods, while sales opportunities can be converted into PDFs, enabling creation of quotations. Other tools include sales orders, invoices, purchase order tracking, supplier purchase orders, and transaction documents. Reports and Dashboards can be used for all transaction types with ability to export all documents to PDF. The product is also able to export to Csv and Excel and imports CSV format files.

The multi-company feature would be of benefit to people managing more than one trading entity, allowing also trading in multiple currencies and tax regimes.

Overall, Workbooks CRM is a good business application that offers all typical advantages of cloud-based systems, such as no need to install and support software, and reduced costs of licensing fees. The company delivers good value for money which helped it in securing two rounds of funding so far.

In 2008, the Reading-based company attracted GBP 2.1 million in its first round of funding that was completed through the Government Enterprise Investment Scheme. A new round of funding followed in 2010 when Workbooks managed to get GBP 2 million secured by angel investors. John Cheney, CEO and founder of Workbooks.com, explained in a press release that the company will use the funds to invest in technology.

SMEs typically don’t have the spending power to make huge investments in integrated IT systems and as a result, are often left with a mish-mash of different applications for accounting, sales and marketing that can’t communicate with one another. The result in most cases is a confusing mess and despite the best efforts of managers building spreadsheets to plug the gap, all-too-often business opportunities are compromised or missed altogether. With this additional funding, we will be able to deliver enterprise-class business process functionality at SME prices to even more organizations, helping them to shorten the prospect-to-cash time line and ultimately grow their businesses more quickly,” he added.

Thus, the company is targeting even broader customer base, while betting on an innovative business model that seems to be working for Cloud Computing start-ups like Workbooks. The company is definitely a rising star showing potential to compete on equal grounds with the big market players.

By Kiril Kirlov

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