Rich Internet Applications in the enterprise with Primavera Systems

I talked with Ed Park of Primavera systems about how they're using Flex 2 internally. It's an interesting look at how a better experience results in higher productivity and a better information flow. In this case, everyone in the company, from executives to customers, benefit from using a Rich Internet Application.
Written by Ryan Stewart, Contributor

Primavera Systems is a company that does Resource and Project Portfolio Management. They are a fairly large company and as with any large company they have a lot of processes in place to track travel expense reports and sales. They also have a lot of customers that use their software to track projects. I talked to Ed Park of Primavera about how RIAs have made a big difference in their workflow by providing a much improved user experience for everyone from customers to employees.

Primavera was a very early adopter of Flex 2.0, getting involved in the beta of the product and beginning to build out applications before it was released. What they've done is created an application that allows their customers and their employees to do their job better and with more information. They make heavy use of charts and the drag and drop that comes out of the box with Flex to make workers more productive and cut training times. In essence, they're showing that a great experience matters and can have a direct result on the bottom line.

Primavera Spreadsheet

The Primavera application is split into three parts; dashboard for executives and directors, project tracking for project managers, and a time logging application for team members. For their consultants, they wanted an application that focused on usability and made it easy to enter time and expenses so that they could spend more time on productive tasks and less time on the menial data entry. By using Flex, they accomplished the UI enhancements and because Flex is a front end technology, could leave their business logic alone. They used a typical spreadsheet entry system and Flex's native features allowed them to create a UI that looked and felt like a regular spreadsheet so it was intuitive to users. It included shortcut keys and drag and drop so that data entry was streamlined.

The dashboard and project tracking uses the charting features in Flex to present the data in a rich graphical format that makes it easy to read and manipulate on the fly. They've built a rich UI that allows the user to drill down into charts and see specific data points. It gives CEOs and project leaders a much better grasp of what is going on and where resources are being allocated. Any time you can make the CEO happy, it's a value add and the rich charting environment makes controlling data easy and intuitive.

Primavera Chart Dashboard

One of the drawbacks to using Flex is that you have to have Flash Player 9 installed, and when I asked if that was an issue, Ed told me that the IT team was able to deploy version 9 of the player easily and didn't have any qualms about it. I was surprised at how trusted Flash has become in an enterprise environment and I think it speaks well for Flex adoption. Ed also talked about customers who were using the old system and got a look at the new system. While customers usually tend to be skittish about moving to a new system, they found the Flex app much more usable and wanted to start on it right away. They described it as so usable that no retraining would be needed.

The movement of user experience into the enterprise is showing tangible results. CEOs enjoy using better looking applications just as much as workers and so everyone throughout the org chart is benefiting. It's great to see the value paying off for both Primavera and its customers.

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