interviewed eProject, an on-demand Project Management company. More than 100,000 users at 650 companies currently use eProjectÄôs solutions. They run the gamut from Fortune 500 companies to medium-sized fast growing organizations.Recently I
The product is used across industries, but has some sweet spots of adoption in highly regulated industries such as insurance and other financial services, healthcare, and other ÄúIP heavyÄ? businesses and organizations.
I have always liked "Project Management" as the organizing principle for Collaboration, and while Microsoft's Sharepoint and LiveMeeting are the leaders in Collaboration, I have said before that Cisco's Webex acquisition gives them a splendid opportunity to enter this market in a big way. eProject's bread-and-butter project management application could be a great addition to Cisco's portfolio, and is a compelling competitor to Microsoft Project - due to its broader collaborative approach, rather than just gnatt charts.
Context and Collaboration
In this post, however, I will discuss their Dynamic Application development capability. In so doing, I need to refer back to something that I have been harping on about forever: Context. When we think about Collaboration, we tend to collaborate around a Context. Let's take an example.
A Director of Marketing is running a PR Campaign and needs to collaborate with his colleagues and the PR Agency, as well as keep track of all the reporters that the team has pitched to. He also needs to keep track of the idiosyncrasies of the various reporters, as cliff notes, so that the people who do the interview (e.g. the CEO or the VP Marketing) know what to emphasize. Finally, he needs to keep track of the follow-up schedule. In this case, the Context is this PR Campaign project - so a collaborative "custom" project management application is created on the fly!
Ease of use - business users can bypass IT
In eProject's Dynamic Application environment, a business user (in this case, the Director of Marketing) can create this application without the help of an IT person. No need to know any technology at all. It's entirely wizard-based. It's impressive usability and gives Salesforce.com a run for its money. It also enables eProject to sell their SaaS product to departmental users, without having to go through IT. Finally, eProject also comfortably handles Extended Enterprise projects.
Honeywell needed a versatile PPM solution, powerful enough to handle diverse projects from teams spanning the globe. They found eProject to be the fastest and easiest to deploy. So due to eProjectÄôs ease-of-use and high user adoption, Honeywell Specialty Materials quickly expanded to over 1500 seats. Many other customer successes have enabled eProject to build up a serious revenue stream and strong user adoption.
Differentiators: Scalability and dynamic app dev
One of my readers Chris McArthur wrote in response to my interview with the eProject CEO:
"Fascinating interview. However, as a VP R&D in a small company my personal experience with eProject was that it requires too much time and effort to introduce. IÄôve been looking for PPM tools for the SME for quite some time and find none.
I found Central Desktop to be easy to use and rather functional, but it is only adequate for simple projects and not for complex R&D projects (even in a small company). Clarizen is still in stealth mode, but according to their CEO, it certainly seems theyÄôre taking a more robust approach."
It's true that Clarizen and Central Desktop handle simple PPM, but the difference between them and eProject IS in the scalability, as well as in the dynamic application development capability. The latter, in fact, positions eProject against Salesforce.com - rather than the lightweight PPM vendors. So it hints at a potential company strategy that is far more ambitious and capable than a pure play SaaS application.
This post was written by Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Strategy Consultant Sramana Mitra. On her blog Sramana Mitra on Strategy, she writes about entrepreneurship, venture capital, emerging markets, strategy, policy, leadership and sundry other business topics. Sramana Mitra has been the founder CEO of 3 startups, Interim VP of Marketing of 7 startups, and has consulted for over 70 companies including public companies such as SAP, Cadence, Webex, and others.