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Niku: The Old-Timer Is New Again

By Joshua Weinberger  |  Posted 2003-10-01 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.

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.

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