Projector PSA – Moving Upmarket with Innovative PSA
PROJECTOR PSA – A MARKET LEADER
Projector PSA (www.projectorpsa.com) might be one of the quietest of all Professional Services Automation (PSA) vendors, and has consciously chosen to prioritize its efforts into building its product rather than marketing it. The company has established itself as a leading independent provider of PSA solutions according to Service Performance Insight’s research over the past seven years. Supporting hundreds of professional services organizations (PSOs) and tens of thousands of users, Projector is well-positioned for future growth.
What is notable about Projector is how the average size of the organizations it serves has grown over the past five years. The company was originally viewed as a provider for PSOs with less than 100 employees. Now, Projector has more than doubled the average size organization it supports to well over 100 employees. A majority of Projector’s clients utilize its multicurrency, intercompany and multi-company functionality, which is generally not available from “smaller” application providers, and is one reason why it has been able to serve larger PSOs.
Projector was designed by professional services executives to solve a specific business problem, rather than by technologists in search of a need. Designed from its conception as a multi-tenant, Software as a Service (SaaS) application, it eliminates all the infrastructure, application support and upgrade headaches for its clients. In addition, the SaaS model allows new PSOs to implement Projector rapidly or adopt new features on demand.
Projector continues its strategy of providing visibility, control and integration across its suite of three core modules. These include resource scheduling, enhanced project management and project accounting. These modules, however, do not exist in a vacuum, but for the sole purpose of improving business performance. Because Projector has always been focused on operational improvement for PSOs, it has continually been a leader in SPI Research’s annual benchmark studies in terms of improving the most core project delivery-related key performance metrics. For example, Projector clients achieved the highest levels of billable utilization and on-time project delivery as shown in Table 1. Projector is one of only a few providers that prices its application on a monthly, metered, pay-for-what-you-use basis, making it appealing to PSOs that demand up-front value without a large long-term commitment.
In SPI Research’s latest benchmark study, Projector scored the highest among other leading vendors in terms of resource management effectiveness and on-time project delivery, and second highest in billable utilization. The team’s focus on these core areas of service delivery is one of the many areas which separate Projector from the competition.
Projector PSA’s rapid growth has been driven by continually expanding functionality and new services that enable users to maximize the benefit of PSA. Over the past eight months, Projector PSA has issued two new software releases. These releases focused on three core areas to make the solution more powerful, flexible and easy to use:
- Technology – Projector is migrating towards a browser-based user interface that enables users to work on virtually any system. This change relaxes the need for PSOs to be tied to any specific environment or platform.
- Usability – Projector PSA has worked hard to make the solution easier to learn for the novice user yet powerful for the proficient one. Projector has carefully architected the solution to ensure new users can get up and running fast while not limiting functionality.
- Functionality – Projector PSA has added additional capabilities and workflows based on customer feedback, enabling them to successfully manage increasingly larger, more complex, project-based organizations.
In September, 2013 the company introduced a number of reporting enhancements to make it easier to create and distribute reports in larger firms. No longer does one type of report need to be used by everyone. Each user has the ability to request customized reports, making it easy to tailor reports by role and preference. The Projector team has added functionality so that each individual receives their own customized report from a given set of data. This capability has been added through Projector’s “Smartfilters,” which reduce the need to create reports over and over again for different users.
The company also introduced a new reporting data services layer that provides all the data available within its reports to other systems in an easily consumable format. This makes integration with a firm’s preferred business intelligence or dashboarding tool much simpler (Figure 1).
In its efforts to support larger and more complex PSOs, the Projector team also introduced “Enterprise Configuration,” a new approach that allows the application to be configured differently for different parts of the organization. This approach is especially useful for larger multinationals that have grown through acquisition or that may have multiple business lines, each of which does business in slightly (or significantly) different ways from the rest of the firm. Enterprise Configuration allows workflows, fields, permissions and activities to be configured differently based on what part of the organization is using the system. It even allows Projector to be mapped to multiple general ledgers with different charts of accounts if necessary.
Another part of that configurability is the ability to track and manage utilization against predefined targets—targets that can be specific to different groups of people around the organization. This new functionality allows PSOs to set minimum and maximum utilization targets to ensure employees better manage their time. What SPI Research finds interesting is that these targets are not limited to billable work, but may include other chargeable, productive, or important non-billable activities. This allows Projector to support both traditional pure-play consulting organizations as well as embedded services firms that may also need to manage product development, engineering, or other non-revenue-generating groups. It is this focus on enabling PSOs to measure and manage key metrics like utilization that helps firms using Projector to perform as well in the benchmark surveys as they have proven to do.
In early 2014, Projector PSA migrated its time management functionality from its installed client (the Management Portal) to its browser-based client (Projector Web). This interface has been completely redesigned from both a technology and a usability standpoint, and now includes functional enhancements to provide more visibility, better control, and easier management of larger datasets required by larger organizations. It is a major step along the path to migrate all Projector functionality from the Management Portal to Projector Web.
To supplement its investment in its product, Projector PSA is also paying significant attention to further expanding upon its existing service offerings. Late last year, Projector introduced “Projector e3,” a program designed to better educate, engage, and empower its users. The program consists of a community made up of Projector experts, end users, and industry leaders that revolves around a series of webinars, presentations, round table discussions, forums, and conferences. e3 helps participants learn more about Projector, better understand key concepts, share best practices, suggest enhancements, review product designs, and more.
e3 complements Projector’s existing support and consulting activities, but serves a different need in a different way. Rather than isolated one-on-one discussions characteristic of support and consulting activities, e3 is intended to encourage broader, many-to-many, and peer-to-peer interactions. It also promotes an ongoing, proactive, continual education model targeted at helping users maximize the value out of their investment in Projector. Finally, it provides a balance between conveying broad strategic concepts with tangible tips and tricks in order to appeal to a broad range of participants playing a myriad of roles.
Projector’s e3 program also provides a key mechanism to allow the company to gather ongoing feedback from its user base. The team has already hosted several dozen events, including discussions around the overall product roadmap, conversations around the strategic direction of the company, design reviews of upcoming functionality, and in-person interviews and working sessions. Many of these events are intentionally structured as interactive dialogs designed to both communicate ideas as well as to gather feedback. In this way, Projector PSA appears committed to incorporating the voice of the customer into its product design process in a meaningful manner. Because of this commitment, over 90% of Projector PSA’s customers participate in some way in the e3 program.
Ten years ago, Projector was just one of many PSA solution providers. It survived the dot.com era and the acquisition craze that fueled the market for the large ERP solution providers. It has remained a self-funded, independent, successful, profitable and rapidly growing provider of PSA, and has always focused exclusively on the unique needs of project- and service-driven companies. Its commitment to the services industry has never wavered and today is stronger than ever, with a host of new functionality and enhancements. SPI Research considers Projector PSA one of the few leaders in the Professional Services Automation marketplace.
Its commitment to the cloud, with pricing to make it much easier to test and buy (no activation fees, no termination fees, no minimum contract terms, what the company calls “true SaaS pricing”) has helped Projector reach a much broader audience. Projector PSA must still work to improve its visibility in the marketplace, especially without the large marketing budgets its publicly traded competitors have. By selling to larger and more complex firms, Projector is becoming a household name with leading PSOs.
The future of project-based work will rely on the ability to plan, staff, execute and control resources and projects with any internet-enabled device. That future is now. Projector is well-positioned to meet the demands of both large and small PSOs, making it a must-see for any PSA evaluation.