Primavera Systems: Old Kid on the BlockBy Baselinemag Print
Primavera's an old-timer in the field with a solid, mature product. But some say it needs better hooks to Microsoft apps.
Primavera is no spring chicken: It's been building project management software for 22 years. Customers say those decades have given it stable and mature products—but some feel the company could improve its ability to work with Microsoft applications, and others say its support services sometimes seem overextended.
For BNSF Railway, Primavera's system is able to manage 450 projects a year involving 1,000 employees without breaking a sweat, says Jeff McIntyre, assistant vice president of technology services for the railroad."It's pretty rock solid," he says.
Chris Morris, manager of program management at communications chip maker Agere Systems, also has found Primavera to have "extremely stable products." And the software has taught him a thing or two: "Quite frankly," he says, "a lot of our processes revolve around the functionality in the product." For example, Agere began requiring team members to enter an "expected finish date," because the Primavera system tracks that metric.
On the downside, past versions of the product didn't provide a "clean process" for importing data from Microsoft Project, says Mike Covalt, project support manager at retailer Cabela's, who uses an older version of Primavera software.. For example, he says, if someone is listed as "JSmith" in Primavera's system but as "John Smith" in Microsoft Project, Primavera creates another entry that must be corrected so the person isn't double-booked. "There's a tremendous amount of cleanup we have to do to make the data consistent," Covalt says.
Mike Shomberg, Primavera's vice president of marketing, says "there will always be translation issues" between the two vendors' products, "just like between English and Japanese." He adds that Primavera 5.0, released in August, includes a tool to check for duplicate entries.
Meanwhile, Primavera's technical support at times seems to get stretched thin, says John Daniel, director of SAP projects at Bell Helicopter Textron: "They have good people working there, but there are sometimes not enough people."
But Agere's Morris has had the opposite experience. "The support organization is annoying because they won't get off the phone with you—they're very service oriented."
In any case, Daniel says, Primavera's strengths, particularly for project planning, outweigh any complaints. "What I like about Primavera more than anything," he says, "is that it looks out the front windshield, instead of the back windshield."
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Pharmaceutical: Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Merck & Co., Wyeth
Technology: Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Motorola
Government: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Navy
Sources: Company reports, BASELINE research
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