Auckland-based software development company ProjectPartner.com is about to release a Rich Internet project management application, delivered as a software-as-a-service offering.
The main difference between this and similar products is that ProjectPartner is delivered to the desktop as an interactive Flash movie, so users do not need to all be running the same operating system or install anything on their local PCs, says Bruce Carley, the company’s web marketing manager.
ProjectPartner is built with Adobe’s ColdFusion and Flex on a SQL Server platform, and this allowed the company to include new features, such as dynamic dashboards, interactive Gantt charts and an engaging new user interface, says Carley.
One of Carley’s favourite features is the dynamic dashboard reporting. “A lot of work went into that,” he says. When a user selects one of the dashboard types, they can drill into the graphed results and look at them from a number of perspectives, for example, resource, project or client, and then drill even deeper to track that part’s contribution to performance, he says.
Because the product is offered as SaaS, it can be accessed from the company’s own servers over the internet, rather than requiring installation on the customer’s local server and individual users’ PCs, he says.
IT staff will be pleased to know that they won’t need to support the implementation or usage, as individual users only require internet access and a browser with the Flash Player plug-in, he says.
However, customers with strict data security policies may require installation on their own network, he says. “But the application would be delivered over the customer’s intranet, so there’s still no need to install anything on users’ desktops,” he says.
The company’s previous offering, Time Disciple, provided many of ProjectPartner’s features but was locked to the Windows environment, using the database platform “du jour”, says Carley.
“It also required complex customisation during installation, expensive licensing of the back-end database platform, and had to be installed on customers’ servers, as well as on each user’s PC.”
The decision to go down the RIA path was based on usability, and making the tool fun to use, says Carley.
“We’d seen what our competitors were doing with their SaaS offerings, and realised that even though we already had a very robust feature set, and great ideas for the new functionality we wanted to add, we needed to blow them out of the water in terms of usability.”
The business, now known as ProjectPartner.com, has been around in a number of guises since the early 1990s, most recently Time Disciple, and, before that, Pictdata Productions, says Carley.
The company has 10 staff, almost all of whom are developers.