Niku: The Old-Timer Is New Again

By Joshua Weinberger Print this article Print

Niku swallowed up one of the best project-management tools on the market.

When managing projects with specialized software was still a fairly new idea, New York-based ABT was widely acknowledged as a leader in the fledgling field. At the time, "ABT was one of the companies spending the most on development," says TRW Automotive's Dale C. Stockman.

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 product—and its client-server delivery format—had grown rather clunky. TRW Automotive's Stockman, for one, was looking forward to a more intuitive, more easily accessible application—and 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."

Niku 305
Main St., Redwood City, CA 94063-1729
(650) 298-4600 / www.niku.com

Ticker: NIKU
Exchange: NASDAQ

Joshua Pickus
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.

Mark Moore
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.

Reference Checks

Royal Caribbean
Richard Shapiro
Mgr., I.T. Program Management Office
954) 517-5832
Project: Cruise line is upgrading to Niku 6.1 to help guide its technology steering committee.

Oakland County, MI
Janette McKenna
Chief, I.T. Internal Services
(248) 858-0893
Project: Municipal technology department began using ABT back in 1996.

TRW Automotive
Dale C. Stockman
Senior Manager
(734) 266-2755
Project: Auto-parts manufacturer wants to use Niku as a single point for project analysis.

Heath Daughtrey
VP, I.T. Services
(702) 407-6147
Project: Gaming company turned to Niku in 2002 for its financial strengths.

Bill Williams
VP, Contract Mgmt.
(404) 249-5225
Project: Information-services firm uses Niku to inform portfolio decisions.

Jack Probst
I.T. Process and Governance
(614) 677-9975
Project: Insurance giant uses Niku to track time as it relates to projects.

FOX Entertainment
Doug Goetz
I.T. Project Management Office
(310) 369-2974
Project: Media giant is using Niku as a single repository for system information.

Eastman Chemical
Paul Mitchell
Process Excellence Manager
(423) 229-8772
Project: Chemical manufacturer selected Niku's integrated suite after a 32-vendor search.

Textron Financial
Dave Raspallo
(401) 621-4402
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.

This article was originally published on 2003-10-01
Assistant Editor
After being on staff at The New Yorker for five years, Josh later traveled the world, hitting all seven continents in a single year. At Yale University, he majored in American Studies, English, and Theatre Studies.

eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.