SaaS tool puts the hammer down on spreadsheet workarounds

Many people use email for project management and communication, but if a faster and more efficient method were available, most organizations would jump at the chance. Some companies have made this move with a new Web-based project planning and management system from Daptiv (formerly eProject). The on-demand Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application gives users an alternative to Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, manua...
By Karen Abramic-Dilger, contributing editor (kadilger@comcast.net) November 1, 2007

Many people use email for project management and communication, but if a faster and more efficient method were available, most organizations would jump at the chance. Some companies have made this move with a new Web-based project planning and management system from Daptiv (formerly eProject) .

The on-demand Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application gives users an alternative to Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, manual workarounds, and homegrown project and resource planning programs. By streamlining project and workforce management and improving collaboration with team members, organizations can better meet long-term corporate goals.

“eProject allows users to align daily work activities to business strategies,” says Tim Low, marketing director for Daptiv. “It gives them greater visibility and a centralized environment that keeps everyone on task throughout a project life cycle.”

Users create and manage project estimates, and download documents and forms—all while integrating with enterprise, human resources, and financial systems. “Resource management allows users to determine who has the right skills for a particular team, maximizing workforce output,” says Low.

Low says Daptiv boasts $16 million in bookings for last year, and averages 30 to 50 new users per month. They are charged a monthly subscription rate that gives them access to the entire project management suite, including data repository, discussion boards, alerts, and notifications.

The system is being used across market segments ranging from electronics manufacturing to federal agencies. The target market is companies with revenues between $50 million and $1 billion.

The dynamic application tool set is the system’s signature module, allowing users to create applications themselves by tapping into the software’s platform. For example, they can choose a date format or long text to create their own routings and workflow, says Low.

Austin Hardware , a Kansas City-based industrial hardware distributor, uses the solution for its new product development process. Workflow approvals incorporate steps or “gates,” with users issuing “stop” or “go” decisions.

“To move forward in the process, managers must ask about market size, or determine if there is enough need to support a specific product,” says Mark Jeffries, chief engineer, Austin Hardware.

Jeffries believes the detailed workflow and review process has led to conserved resources and less waste. “It forces us to ask the tough questions before we commit to the next stage of resources,” he says. “Using eProject, we can make preliminary models to show customers before we get to the next commitment level.”

The system also allows the company to hold its 30 salespeople accountable for their projects.

“Prior to using the system, we wasted nearly two and a half years on projects that never came to fruition,” says Jeffries. “We invested time and money on projects that never yielded results because products failed or customers lost interest. We didn’t have a way to compile information and communicate with sales, engineering, and customers.”

Although Austin primarily uses Daptiv for new product planning, it will expand its use to nonproduct-related tasks. The solution

With 10 U.S. locations, Austin relies on its customer base for new product ideas. Since the company has its own engineering department, it develops some of its own products, but also relies on suppliers for industrial parts.

Austin recently standardized its processes and simplified decision-making, says Jeffries. “We keep better track of request-for-quotes and estimating. We cross-reference part numbers with drawings for better control. One engineer can start a drawing, and another can finish it.”