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Executives and managers want to be able to track the time, costs, and people involved in their companies' projects. Professional-services automation and resource-management software can help do that. But the easier it is to get employees comfortable using the software and the less support they need, the sooner companies will benefit from the software.
"People are always hesitant to use new software. One of the biggest factors in deploying new software is, how much training will people need to get up to speed?" Aberdeen Group analyst David Hofferberth says.
Automation Centre Inc.'s Tracker Suite R6 resource- and project-management software makes it "very easy" for companies to track the components related to projects because it's "very intuitive" and is one of few (if not the only) professional-services automation products that runs on Lotus Notes 6.0, Hofferberth says.
Employees at financial-services firm Jefferies & Co. began using Tracker Suite in January to track the expenses, time, and people resources of all IT projects launched this year. There are 150 Jefferies IT staffers and consultants using Tracker Suite, and it required little more than a group conference call to explain to them how to use the software, says John Pillsbury, Jefferies' VP of project office management. "All of the users were also Notes users, so it was very easy for them to learn Tracker Suite--it's so tightly integrated into what we had," he says. The company already has its return on investment, he says.
At Jefferies, Tracker Suite replaced homegrown intranet-based legacy software that didn't let project managers drill down to see items such as travel or hardware costs for their projects. "This ties everything together: people costs, consulting costs, travel, anything that's involved with a project," Pillsbury says.
A new business-intelligence engine featured in the newest version, which was released in late January, takes "unstructured information and puts it into a structured format," giving execs and others a customizable dashboard to find the project information they're most interested in, Automation Centre CEO Steve Birchfield says.
The software also requires little IT resources, says Jeff Papows, CEO of Maptuit, a company that helps truckers optimize fuel, routes, time, and costs. "There's so little overhead needed for Tracker Suite. It takes five calories of IT effort to implement over Notes and to support it," he says. Papows, a former CEO of Lotus and the champion of Notes while he ran the company, says Maptuit is using Tracker Suite to track its own internal engineering projects.
"It fits in with Notes so well that you can pretty much use it out of the box," he says. "Tracker Suite is brain-dead simple to use."