Recently, I spoke with Patrick Tickle, EVP of Products for Planview. Planview is an Austin, Texas-based project-portfolio management (PPM) solution provider. I'll admit I have a soft spot for Austin tech companies, as they are near so many relatives, friends, and the family ranch.
I've covered Planview before. It's got some really nice functionality beyond the core PPM space — one notable product is its NPD (New Product Development) solution. Its product line covers IT project/portfolio management, NPD, finance portfolio management, and services management. This call with Patrick was mostly about the new version of its PPM solutions: 11.
In our conversation, Patrick identified three trends the company is seeing that are having a big impact on PPM:
Rapid uptake of cloud solutions
A more BYOD, mobile, etc. enabled executive wanting information anywhere, everywhere, and anytime
Solutions that impact the entirety of an enterprise, not just a specific function or division
To that end, Planview put a lot of effort into upgrading the user interface (UI) in this new release. Application software vendors everywhere have come to realize that people, especially mobile (smartphone or tablet) users, don't want to enter information following some set of panel forms found in most desktop applications. Older client-server solutions that are now hosted on a cloud server are sometimes the most painful to use today, as the UI and UX (user experience) are so out of step and clunky when accessed on mobile devices.
New UI and UX solutions should provide the information a user needs at point of need. They should anticipate many data needs and process steps. Forcing users to adhere to a pre-defined, and possibly low/no value-added, process flow is also bad UI/UX design.
Planview's new UI was designed for the mobile user. The products now use HTML 5. Planview used over 100 customers to test out the new UI flows and designs. These users clocked in over 1,000 hours banging on the new UI. The result is a market-relevant product.
Planview also souped up its decision making/reporting for mobile and other users. The data is served up (via cloud capabilities) in a really clean manner. One area where its reporting gets really interesting is in big data. Portfolio management technologies are computationally intensive. There can be thousands of variables that need to be simultaneously "solved" to identify an optimal business result. By doing these calculations in-memory via a big data analytics solution, businesses can run all manner of "what-if" simulations, in real time, to see the impact of different projects on the corporation. Planview has also added visualization reporting capabilities to these outputs.
(For a really radical approach to UI/UX, see what Infor (www.infor.com) has done with its product line this last year.)