Pacific Edge: Mom-And-Pop No More

By Joshua Weinberger Print this article Print

Pacific Edge has stayed its course since the mid-90's, hardly wavering from its founding principles.

Pacific Edge is no longer run on a day-to-day basis by its married co-founders, but longtime customers say it hasn't lost its personal touch. The key: Giving users what they want, especially the ability to easily exchange data from its project-management software with Microsoft Project, which many of its customers use.

Even so, Pacific Edge's ability to win new customers can be equal parts good technology and luck. "I went to Pacific Edge on a whim," says Brigham Young University's Ernie Nielsen. Yet he found that the company had done a good job of separating the management of individual projects from the management of a portfolio of projects. Plus, he found the company could track the use of the smallest unit of a resource—say, a single programmer—straight up to the returns generated at any given time by the overall portfolio of projects.

Nielsen "was most impressed that [CEO Rob Dickerson] understood the software was not a driving tool, but rather a supporting one—accommodating all levels of maturity within the same organization, and without forcing anyone beyond their maturity capacity."

Luck also helped bring Mercy Health Partners' Jim Albin into the fold: "I happened to be surfing the Web and came across the Pacific Edge environment; it met some of the requirements I had in my head," including how to prioritize projects and manage work flow.

At Baylor University, all expenditures have to support a campuswide vision statement. So "we hit on the idea that Project Office would be a good tool to manage this across the university," says Chief Information Officer Reagan Ramsower. Project Office scores each initiative by "how well it will achieve the mission by aligning with these goals." Pacific Edge "has been a very good partner in customizing to meet our needs," says Ramsower. In fact, Portfolio Edge "essentially does what we've customized Project Office to do." So Ramsower's in no rush to upgrade. "I don't want to retrain people on a new product. This is a huge cultural change."

Rick Len, of investment-management firm Russell Investment Group, says Pacific Edge faced some "resource challenges" some time back. As a result, Len says, one upgrade "didn't go as smoothly as we'd like." But an upgrade to the vendor's fourth version of project software went well: "They designated an internal-relationship management person, who became our advocate."

The personal touch was back.

Pacific Edge Software
2606 116th Ave. NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
(425) 897-8800 / www.pacificedge.com

Employees: 70
Rob Dickerson
President, CEO
Joined Pacific Edge in March 2001. Had been senior VP of products at Rational Software for four years, and an executive at Pure/Atria Software and Borland International. His first job out of graduate school was as the project manager on Microsoft's BASIC.

Peter Callaghan
VP, Worldwide Sales
Oversees business development, sales and professional services. Previously a senior vice president with Pivotal, he had also worked at Cognos, Sybase and Computer Associates.

Project Office (project management), and Portfolio Edge (Web-based portfolio management), supplemented by Connector, which transfers data to and from Microsoft Project, and Report Toolkit, which builds customized reports. Released a new version of Portfolio Edge in September.

Reference Checks

Baylor University
Reagan Ramsower
(254) 710-8788
Project: Texas institution's Strategic Planning Office has customized its Project Office deployment with many of the attributes now available in Portfolio Edge.

Mercy Health Partners
Jim Albin
(419) 251-1999
Project: The Catholic Healthcare Partners division has been using Pacific Edge software to help prioritize application-level development projects.

Vincent de Montmollin
I.T. Project Office Manager
+33 1 4600 5606
Project: Oil-services giant has been using Project Office for years as a pipeline-management tool—creating alerts and running statistical analysis—and has just decided to deploy Portfolio Edge.

Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon
Don Haas
Manager, Applications Development
(503) 962-4996
Project: Transit agency began using Project Office three years ago, mostly as a real-time resource-management system.

Brigham Young University
Ernie Nielsen
Managing Director, Enterprise Project Management
Project: The Utah university purchased Portfolio Edge at the end of 2002, and uses Microsoft Project in conjunction with Project Office.

Russell Investment Grp.
Rick Len
Dir., I.T. Program Management Office
(253) 798-5645
Project: An early Portfolio Edge tester, investment-management firm uses Connector and Project Office 4 with Microsoft Project.
Executives listed here are all users of Pacific Edge software. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

Founded: 1998
Major Customers: Airborne Express, AT&T Wireless, Boeing, Credit Lyonnais Americas, Dell Computer, Fidelity Investments, First Penn-Pacific Life Insurance, New York Times Co., U.S. Army 30th Signal Battalion, U.S. Coast Guard
Offices: Bellevue, Wash. (Corporate headquarters and international sales); Bethesda, Md.; Norwalk, Conn.; Reston, Va.; and Smyrna, Ga.

Venture Capital
July 1999 ($6 million): Northwest Venture Associates, Fluke Venture Partners, Matthew G. Norton, Onyx Software, private investors
May 2000 ($26.4 million): Foundation Capital, Sequoia Capital, Stanford University, Northwest Venture Partners, Fluke Venture Partners, Dain Rauscher Wessels, Matthew G. Norton Co., private investors

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.

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