Primavera Systems: Old Kid on the Block

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.

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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.”

I.T. Portfolio Management

Primavera Systems
3 Bala Plaza W.
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 667-8600

TICKER: Privately held


Joel Koppelman
Before he co-founded the company in 1983, he was an engineer with Day & Zimmerman, an engineering and construction firm, and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Richard Faris
The company’s other co-founder has overseen development of 12 project management products. Previously managed capital projects in transportation.

The company’s eponymous Primavera software (formerly called TeamPlay) tracks project progress against predefined goals and provides reports that help managers identify which information-technology projects to pursue. It also manages workers’ schedules, down to the hour, and includes collaborative features to let team members share project information and documents.

Reference Checks

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Charles Warner
Dir., I.T. Program and Project Management [email protected]
Project: Federal agency uses Primavera to manage 50 ongoing large projects involving roughly 3,000 employees and contractors.

Principal Financial Group
Scott Cahill
Dir., Project Management
[email protected]
Project: Financial services company tracks 100 projects and time worked by 4,000 employees with Primavera.

Agere Systems
Chris Morris
Mgr., Program Management
[email protected]
Project: Chip maker runs eight major projects with Primavera, including an upgrade to its Oracle enterprise resource planning system.

Bell Helicopter Textron
John Daniel
Dir., SAP Project Implementations
[email protected]
Project: Helicopter manufacturer uses Primavera to track roughly 60 projects, including 15 related to its SAP rollout, and 250 workers.

Mike Covalt
Mgr., Project Support
[email protected]
Project: Outdoor sporting goods retailer uses Primavera to track 200 information-technology staff working on 30 major projects.

BNSF Railway
Jeff McIntyre
Asst. VP, Technology Services
[email protected]
Project: Railroad manages 450 projects a year with Primavera, and is planning information-technology initiatives for the next five years in the system.U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Executives listed here are all users of Primavera’s products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.


Year-to-year growth67.0%72.1%72.9%


Financial: Aflac, AIG, Citigroup, Guardian Life Insurance, State Farm
Manufacturing: Boeing, Dow Chemical, DuPont
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

Bala Cynwyd, Pa. (headquarters); San Francisco;Naperville, Ill.; London

TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS BEA Systems, Citrix Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, MRO Software, Oracle, SAP, Sun Microsystems, Telelogic


Company founded

Buys Promacon Systems, a project-management software vendor, to which it had been paying
licensing royalties

Receives equity investment from Intel Capital

Acquires assets of bankrupt portfolio management vendor Evolve Software
for $13M