By Susan Belknapp, California Business Journal
Software development company Project Insight (PI®) began when Steve West, CEO and co-founder, started doing custom web development for brick-and-mortar businesses and internet startups in the late 1990s. This was during the rise of the dotcom boom, and soon the originators recognized the need for a collaborative platform for project management. The company was established in 2001, just as the boom began to wane, and PI as a software was introduced the following year.
“At the time,” West says, “people were still not used to applications on the web. In fact, they weren’t used to any of this.”
Once the product launched, the company began to shift their focus on developing “the best SaaS project management software in the industry,” he says. “We now call ourselves ‘work automation’ and it’s more than a project management tool as the services and capabilities have expanded so much.
Though PI originated as a sophisticated project management platform, its new capabilities take it far beyond the standard PM tool. This is due to its ability to aggregate other tools and solutions across multiple platforms to provide an extremely comprehensive, customizable “work automation” tool.
Integrate Your Current System
PI now serves as a “collaboration hub” for companies that can range from a few people (PI#team™) to thousands worldwide (PI#enterprise™). It can organize and expedite workflows and interconnections no matter what additional tools your company is using. The platform can be used for simple project management functions including keeping track of projects, tasks, reports and time all in one place. Or, depending on how complex your organization’s process is, PI can be customized to integrate ERP software such as SAP, Oracle or Sage.
“Whether you need to centralize your project process from initiation to close, or aggregate data from multiple applications, PI helps you fill in the gaps and unify project data across all departments and tools used,” West says.
“There are more tools coming out all the time and the individual teams want to use the best for their processes, so we’re saying, ‘Go ahead and do that.’ We don’t want to stop companies from using the tools that make sense to their business. We’re aggregating the key pieces of data so executives can still see the overview and reporting but the teams can still use the platforms they prefer.”
Whether it’s a time and action calendar or budget spreadsheet, all the elements can be organized by PI so that workers are spending more time performing the tasks they’re hired for and not creating spreadsheets that can take hours and days away from their performance time.
West calls this “work automation.”
“Our system allows the people who are actually doing the work to do what they need to do rather than administering the work,” he says. “We want to make it so the workers are more efficient with a streamlined flow of information, including reporting and budgets. These are all the things people tend to still do manually and they take time. The more time spent on organizing, the less time your workers have to actually do and create.”
Choose Your Own Communication Preference
Other ways that PI is innovating is through communication preferences. As modes of communication evolve, the preferences for which individuals prefer grows more distinct. Most of us want to be communicated with in specific ways via specific modes.
“My kids don’t use email; they see it as a place where they store their passwords,” West says. “This is why we have developed a ‘Slack’ integration. It’s like Snapchat for messaging. Younger workers intuitively get this method.”
PI released a patent-pending VirtualPM™ (virtual project manager) to keep workers informed every step of the way. For instance, at the beginning of the day, a user will receive a Slack message showing the user’s tasks for the day. At the end of the day, they will receive a Slack notification or “reminder” to update their daily tasks. The team member can then update each task in Slack and it will automatically sync to PI without ever having to log into the PI platform.
“The visibility that Project Insight provides our management teams has enabled us to address issues earlier, fine tune processes and work to improve the accuracy of project forecasting whilst ensuring that the project program remains under complete control,” says Paul Page of Civica Group.
Allow Clients to View Status
On the roadmap for 2019, PI plans to roll out two new features: one is a Client View that allows organizations to invite their clients to access and update projects on their end.
“That option is free for users to add for our customers, which is a relatively new possibility through all the integrations we’ve added,” West says. “We also have a system that can generate quotes via Salesforce, NetSuite or other enterprise-resource planning (ERP) platforms. We can pull in a quote to PI and use that quote to build a project off of it and it can report back to your ERP system. It does require some development but we can still report back to the origination place, such as the sales team, so it’s automated in that respect.”
As tools grow and innovate, it’s impossible for companies to keep up unless they’re able to use multiple platforms at once, yet this runs the risk of departments getting siloed with no ability to bring all the key components together under one core system. Project Insight solves this by allowing teams to use whatever they need and switch out what they don’t, while still tracking, compiling and keeping everyone updated through one core platform.
“The bottom line is that we’re here to make our clients’ lives easier,” West says. “We understand that today’s business goes in multiple directions at any given time and project managers are trying to keep all the threads together, which is a skill in itself. PI is a tool that can help the entire enterprise run more efficiently and keep all the threads going through one central tool where all the components are just a click or two away.”
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