city of Chicago
SpringCM CEO Dan Dal Degan is a Chicago native. PHOTO: Grzegorz Zdanowski

Chicago-based SpringCM kicked off 2017 with a new $25 million round of venture capital and a new CEO, Dan Dal Degan.

The company markets a document and sales contract management solution for Salesforce customers.

Dal Degan worked at Salesforce from 2002 to 2012, contributing to growing the company of fewer than 150 employees and less than $50M in annual revenue to one boasting more than to 12,000 employees, more than $4 billion in annual revenue and more than 150,000 customers.

"It was a very rewarding time. There was a lot of growth for me personally. I made a lot of great friends, learned a lot and developed my skills as a leader. I built a network and met some great partners including SpringCM," he said.

CMSWire caught up with Dal Degan to get his thoughts on the company he now heads, as well as to get his perspective on a host of related topics, from Salesforce to life in the Windy City — his hometown.

"My wife and I have five children, we both come from big families and we always resisted the temptation to move to the Bay area. I have spent a lot of time, as you can imagine, on airplanes going back and forth," he said.

Transforming Start-Ups to Market Leaders

Dan Dal Degan
Dan Dal Degan

Roe: When did you first come across SpringCM?

Dal Degan: I had my first introduction to SpringCM while I was still at Salesforce, originally around SpringCM’s cloud-based document management system.

Salesforce is built for data. It's still built on a relational database so it's about rows and columns. Salesforce wasn’t built to manage documents, certainly not large scale document management.

SpringCM launched SpringCM for Salesforce through the Salesforce.com AppExchange in 2007 and has been providing document management for Salesforce ever since.

I knew the original investors. I knew the founding team, including Greg Buchholz, who is now president and Chief Operating Officer and partnering with me to run the business.

Around 2009 or 2010, there was a use case that kept coming up and that use case was contracts and contract management.

Even though I was still at Salesforce, I was interested in partnering with SpringCM. So we developed this use case identity around contract management, which became successful and popular, and got a lot of attention from Salesforce.

Roe: What then?

Dal Degan: Fast forward to 2013. I took a sabbatical for about six months, then came back and decided I wanted to do something different. I become president of a digital marketing software company (Ensighten) and did that for about two years.

But I decided I wasn’t going to keep flying to San Jose every week to be president of a company in the Bay Area.

Roe: But you wanted to stay in management?

Dal Degan: I still had a management itch that needed to be scratched and take the next step in my leadership development. Then I took another sabbatical, this one for almost a full year.

When I came back, I wanted to do board work. You’ve probably heard it before. You think working on a board is going to fun, it’s going to be glamorous. You’re going to be giving advice based on your experience.

Then you find that people ignore your advice. I was thinking "I’ve got teenage kids – if I want to have my advice ignored, I can just stay at home!" So I got some advice from a mentor and dear friend. He told me to be as thoughtful about the company you select to serve on the board as selecting a full-time employer. Keep in mind you might want to join the company's leadership team somewhere in your trajectory with them or even become CEO, he said.

So I joined two boards. Samanage, another Salesforce partner — a customer help desk based in Tel Aviv – and SpringCM. In both cases, I joined the board to do operational work, so I operationally engaged.

I loved it. It was great to be more engaged, to roll up my sleeves. At SpringCM, I also agreed that by the end of 2016 I would decide next steps. So I decided this was the time. I joined the company full time and was then asked to be CEO.

Roe: When were you appointed CEO?

Dal Degan: Officially in January, but we were talking about it late last year. It didn’t make sense for me to take the job until the funding was in place to facilitate the plans I have for talent, expansion and development.

We (SpringCM) are going at a nice clip. We are actively following the Salesforce ecosystem and I am using all the contacts I have there.

There’s no mystery about the team, either, because I’ve been here for about a year now. So it’s the best situation I could ask for — an opportunity to be CEO and remain in Chicago, too.

Roe: Is there an organic link between SpringCM and Salesforce?

Dal Degan: We tightly integrate with Salesforce as a document management platform — integrate with the Salesforce data model, and the Salesforce sales cloud and service cloud. Those are the typical deployments.

Where we get very actively involved in Salesforce is when they bring us in for contract management in the context of what Salesforce calls ‘Quote-to-Cash’ (QTC).

Let’s take a big company like Accenture. Accenture has all its salespeople and legal people driving client engagement. When it’s time to negotiate a contract with the client, SpringCM with its contract management platform integrates with Salesforce and Sales Cloud and their QTC, which Salesforce got from a company called SteelBrick that it bought at the end of 2015.

When Salesforce bought Steelbrick that was a real catalyst for us as we had a strong relationship with SteelBrick already.

(Next week: Dal Degan goes deeper into his plans for SpringCM and shares his perspective on digital transformation.)