That's the argument from Clarizen, a project management software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor that is now trying to redefine itself as offering something broader, which it calls "work management." COO Guy Shani said the founders of the company had in mind to create a new brand of product management from the beginning. Most of them, including Shani and CEO Avinoam Nowogrodski, had previously run the product lifecycle management company SmarTeam Corp., where they worked with organizations that took project planning for the engineering sides of their businesses very seriously. But even those organizations "would invest very little in planning for the big picture," Shani said in an interview.
Formal project management processes also often have a hard time keeping up with reality, he said. "Organizations create these huge Gantt charts, and two days into the project it's outdated, just because nobody's gotten around to updating it."
Clarizen's idea of "work management" is to shift the emphasis toward execution of plans, not just planning itself. The software aims to make it easier for everyone involved to update their progress on projects and tasks, through a browser or email, so that managers can see at a glance what projects are on schedule or running behind.
Part of the idea also is to make the application lightweight enough that it can be used for a broader variety of activities, not just engineering projects or software development. Some customers are using it to handle public relations or marketing projects, things they would never have purchased conventional project management software licenses for, Shani said.
Major customers include Hertz, Lenovo, Roche, UPS, NBC Universal, and GE Healthcare.
Other product such as Teambox, Liquid Planner and Sprintr have gone farther in the direction of adopting the look and feel of social media, where project updates are posted almost like Twitter updates.
The project management market is shaping up with very formal tools, appropriate for big projects like building a bridge or a 747 on one side, and ad hoc tools that emphasize free form collaboration on the other, Shani said. The problem with putting the emphasis solely on collaboration is that "there is usually no structure and you can't really build a complex project with dependencies," Shani said. "We still stand more toward the enterprise side."
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