Niku: The Old-Timer Is New AgainBy Joshua Weinberger Print
Niku swallowed up one of the best project-management tools on the market.
Niku bought ABT in 2000, around the same time rivals such as Lawson Software and Microsoft were also snapping up small vendors to get a bigger foothold in the developing market. "Niku was looking to expand functionality around their project-management tools," says Eastman Chemical's Paul Mitchell, "and seemed to have much more vision" than the competition.
To the erstwhile ABT platform it had inherited, Niku added features to better track project costs, but customers claimed the overall productand its client-server delivery formathad grown rather clunky. TRW Automotive's Stockman, for one, was looking forward to a more intuitive, more easily accessible applicationand the newly Web-based Niku 6 fit the bill.
"The product's gotten better," says Textron Financial's Dave Raspallo, who uses Niku to present statistics quickly and effectively, a task that might otherwise require a host of applications. "Without it, we couldn't have tripled in size, and I couldn't run a steering committee for this size business with this volume and velocity," Raspallo says.
Niku is phasing out what used to be the ABT software. Now, version 6.1 of its project- and portfolio-management software allows users to collect and report information through "portlets,'' which are in effect small intranet portals. Royal Caribbean's Richard Shapiro says the approach reduces his company's reliance on other tools, such as Actuate's business-intelligence software. Shapiro also finds the new version "highly customizable," which allows him to query the database directly, codify best practices and improve his company's own particular planning process.
The software's clunkiness is also disappearing. Doug Goetz of Fox Entertainment says that better organization of elements on screen helps make version 6.1 "much more visually compelling and user friendly." To Heath Daughtrey of Harrah's Entertainment, "6.1 is a quantum leap over 6.0."
That tells customers such as Shapiro that they're "being heard by the right people, not just a sales rep.'' Shapiro says he feels "very comfortable with [his] access to Niku's movers and shakers."
Main St., Redwood City, CA 94063-1729
(650) 298-4600 / www.niku.com
Chairman, CEO, President
Served as CFO for nearly two years before November 2002 promotion. Had been at Bowman Capital Management.
Michael J. Sayer
EVP, Worldwide Sales
Joined in August after a stint as CEO of startup Hipbone. Before that, led sales efforts at Remedy Corp. and Lucid Inc., among others.
EVP, Products and Services
Handles architectural direction and new-technology integration. Helped found music-directory Web site Listen.com.
Niku 6, the latest version of the suite, comprises seven modules: Portfolio Manager, along with Projects, Workbench, Resource Planner, Financial Manager, Studio and Author.
Mgr., I.T. Program Management Office
Project: Cruise line is upgrading to Niku 6.1 to help guide its technology steering committee.
Oakland County, MI
Chief, I.T. Internal Services
Project: Municipal technology department began using ABT back in 1996.
Dale C. Stockman
Project: Auto-parts manufacturer wants to use Niku as a single point for project analysis.
VP, I.T. Services
Project: Gaming company turned to Niku in 2002 for its financial strengths.
VP, Contract Mgmt.
Project: Information-services firm uses Niku to inform portfolio decisions.
I.T. Process and Governance
Project: Insurance giant uses Niku to track time as it relates to projects.
I.T. Project Management Office
Project: Media giant is using Niku as a single repository for system information.
Process Excellence Manager
Project: Chemical manufacturer selected Niku's integrated suite after a 32-vendor search.
Project: Commercial lender is using Niku to improve its 6 Sigma processes.
Executives listed here are all users of Niku software. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.
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