Primavera Systems: Engineering a New Direction
After more than 20 years spent cornering the project-management needs of the architecture, engineering and construction market, Primavera is looking to broaden its scope. Part of that leap means stitching together formerly disparate technologies, including the software now embedded in TeamPlay, and Evolve (which was acquired in March).
Bechtel's Bruce Hubal says Primavera "has the capability to handle resources in a more sophisticated waybut in many cases, the user isn't sophisticated enough to take advantage of it." One area in perpetual need of improvement, though, is the presentation of information. "We always ask for better and better graphicsbut it has improved over time."
Hubal acknowledges that asking for software changes is easier when you're a customer the size of Bechtel. As the market leader, Primavera runs the risk of neglecting smaller customers or clients in industries with which it has less experience. "When you're a supplier to a broad group of clients, you can't please everybody. You have to make choices," says Frank van Meel, of pharmaceutical company Organon. "It would be nice if our industry could have a stronger voice." To that end, Organon is working with Primavera to build a users' community within the drug industry.
"Primavera has a good, strong scheduling engine," says Banknorth project office manager Dave Houghton, who briefly worked for PlanView. It's also "pretty flexibleyou can slice and dice it and report on it any way you wantwhich really enables you to get to project management sooner rather than later." Van Meel adds that Primavera "can handle really large databases in quite some detail."
But as tools grow more and more powerful, it's not always about functionality. At Banknorth, for example, where Primavera beat out a number of competitors, including PlanView, the fact that "the salesperson was more attuned to [our] needs" made the difference, Houghton says. That attention continued after the sale as well. "Primavera's support has been much better. They're interested in where you're going with the product, and interested in making sure you get the biggest bang for the buck."
The bang better be there, too. "If you look at the pricing of various plans, Primavera is on the expensive end of things," Hubal says. As Primavera branches out, some customers may not be as eager to pay.
3 Bala Plaza West, #700
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
Ticker: Private; founded 1983
Employees: 450 worldwide
Joel M. Koppelman
A professional engineer by training, he started Primavera after 13 years at conglomerate Day & Zimmermann. He also co-authored Earned Value Project Management and spends his free time sculpting in stone.
Richard K. Faris
Has led new-product development for more than 17 years. Was also VP at engineering consultancy Transportation & Distribution Associates, and a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton.
Project Control Mgr.
Project: Engineering and construction firm uses P3e/c for scheduling projects of any complexity.
Project Manager, PM Development Program
Project: The construction and engineering giant has been using Primavera since the early 1990s, but not on a companywide level. (Individual Bechtel projects, however, are often the size of small companies.)
Manager, Project Office
Project: Chain of New England-based community banks is looking to manage all its technology projects within Primavera, and hopes to expand to portfolio management this year.
Project: The petrochemical company uses Microsoft Project for small needs, and P3 (as part of Aspen Technology's Icarus software) for projects larger than $10 million.
Frank van Meel
Director, Portfolio Management & Planning
Project: The largest of Dutch giant Akzo Nobel's three pharmaceutical units uses P3 for the development of planning tools and is considering upgrading to Primavera Enterprise.
Process Excellence Manager
Project: The manufacturer of plastics, fibers and polymers uses Primavera in its engineering division, but has PlanView and Niku elsewhere.
Executives listed here are all users of Primavera software. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.