Oracle Apps strategy gets the nod from Forrester Research

A new research report out of Forrester titled Which Has The Better Apps Strategy: Oracle Or SAP? (subscription required) was recently published.

The last time Forrester published a comprehensive strategic review of the vendors was in 2006 and as noted in the new research report, much has changed since that time.  Back in 2006 they called it a “battle of the architectures” and SAP was given the nod by Forrester.

Since that time however Oracle has closed the gap in terms of enterprise apps revenue (with a 33% compund annual growth rate versus SAP’s 13% ignoring currency fluctuations) and out of eight criteria for success identified by Forrester, Oracle has the advantage in 4 and SAP only 3 (one resulted in a tie).

More importantly, the criteria where Oracle is considered the leader shows that we have the focus on the most important aspects of our customer’s businesses.  For example we lead in Vision, Support for Openness and Standards and the Path to Dynamic Business standards – all of which point to a better future for our customers with Oracle than with SAP.

The traction we’ve gained since 2006 is starting to pay off and the momentum will continue going forward.  I can’t wait to see what Forrester thinks in 2010!

Oracle Buys Primavera

See the full press release here.

 

Oracle Buys Primavera

Creates First, Comprehensive Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solution for Project-Intensive Industries

Redwood Shores, CA – October 8, 2008

News Facts:

Today, Oracle announced it has agreed to acquire Primavera Software, Inc., a leading provider of Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions, to accelerate its momentum in delivering mission-critical operational applications.

Primavera’s PPM software helps companies propose, prioritize and select project investments, and plan, manage and control the most complex projects and project portfolios.

Together with Oracle’s applications and infrastructure software, Oracle expects to provide the first comprehensive enterprise project portfolio management solution that helps companies allocate the best resources, reduce costs, meet delivery dates and ultimately make better decisions, all by using real-time data.

Oracle Enterprise PPM will be tailored to project-intensive industries such as engineering and construction, aerospace and defense, utilities, oil and gas, manufacturing, and professional services.

Primavera employees and management are expected to join Oracle to form a global business unit (GBU) focused on Enterprise PPM, and to help ensure a smooth transition for Primavera customers and partners. Primavera’s CEO Joel Koppelman is expected to lead the business unit as Senior Vice President and General Manager.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second half of 2008. Until the deal closes, each company will continue to operate independently. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Distractions and confidence? What do they have in common?

I said a little while back that I was going to review some of the Project Management software out there.  Funny how quickly things become a little while back, then turn into a longer while back, then it becomes too embarrassing to even bring it up again.

This is a good segue into one of the first products that I thought had some really interesting features.  A company called Devshop has focused their sights on planning for Software projects.  Even though they have a narrow focus, that doesn’t detract from the value of some of the features they built into their product.

The first one, which relates to why I’ve been remiss in updating this blog, is all about distractions.  Who doesn’t have distractions these days with the ability to be contacted by almost anyone in numerous ways throughout the day.  When you’re trying to focus on completing project tasks the amount of distractions that come your way directly affects productivity, your progress and then of course the on time delivery of your project.  This is handled in Devshop by allowing you to tag tasks as distractions.  These are non-project related tasks that pull your resources away from completing their project tasks.

I remember my days when implementing PeopleSoft at customer sites back in the later 90’s.  Using a mouse and Windows was often a new experience for some of our manufacturing customers.  They were used to the green screen systems.  So a large part of my time was spent teaching them how to use a mouse, how to open and utilize multiple windows, where to find the Solitaire game, etc etc.  Being able to show my PM all of the distractions that happened during the day would have been a great way to raise the visibility of those time sucking tasks.

Also, by being able to track the distracting tasks and make them visible to project executives, it makes it easier to get change control items approved.  Of course anyone could create new project tasks to track distracting activities, but I like how Devshop has considered this and built it right into their product.Another key feature I think they’ve built in is the confidence factor.  Anyone can create a plan with dates and say when they believe the project will be done.  That doesn’t do PM’s or executives any good though when dates keep shifting as the project moves along and tasks slip.  If decisions are made based on those dates, wouldn’t you want to know how sure the PM is that those dates are truly achievable, and how much of it is pie in the sky, best case scenario?The confidence factor in Devshop is directly tied to how many requirements, designs and time estimates are in approved or unapproved status.  The more that are approved, the higher the confidence level and therefore the more ‘confident’ you can be in your plan dates being hit. 

The simplistic beauty of this confidence index number is that when someone asks a PM for a finish date on a task or the project overall, the PM can give them an answer along with a caveat based on the confidence number.  Now you’re giving more information to the decision makers.  Do they want to go ahead and order some expensive new equipment when a dependency task has only a 10% confidence factor that it will be done on the current scheduled date?  If that confidence factor is 80% how would they feel?

The other important thing to remember is that these confidence scores come from actual work being done and approved.  They aren’t just a best guess of the task owners collectively so you can put some faith in the number.

A bevy of Project Management software abounds

There was an interesting conference in San Francisco last week called Office 2.0.  I was sad not to be able to go, for one because every attendee got a free iPhone (the obsolete 4 GB sadly), but more importantly because they had a specific session on Project Management.

The goal of the Office 2.0 conference is ‘aimed at discovering the future of online productivity & collaboration.’  They still claim it’s in an experimental phase, which probably makes it a lot more interesting than your average conference.  If you want screw ups and snafus to go along with your push the envelope kinds of ideas, I think they had all of those in spades.

Disappointingly there is very little information about what went on during the Project Management session and they didn’t even bother posting an abstract.  Given the conference motto of  ‘discovering the future of online productivity & collaboration’, nothing screams project management as much as that line.  Project management is all about teams collaborating on a collective goal and productivity is key to achieving that goal in your resource and time budget.   If anyone out there reading this happened to attend I’d love to hear back what was discussed.

It was an interesting lineup of speakers however.  I know Marc O’Brien and he has been around the Project Management world for some time.  His new product, Projity,  looks like a Microsoft Project killer.  (OK, that’s a bit dramatic but it’s an excellent alternative) 

One very useful link provided however was a laundry list of online tools for project management.  As I scrolled down the list there were some familiar names and some not so familiar.  Basecamp has been getting a lot of press lately, and Projity that I mentioned earlier, but many of the names were new to me.  In total there were 27 different companies linked as an online project management tool!  I’m sure this isn’t even a comprehensive list of all of the competition out there.  I was surprised that eProject and @Task weren’t on the list.  Maybe the fact they’re more established than the majority of the companies at Office 2.0 means they didn’t want to lend credence to the viability of the smaller players.  Or Web 2.0 isn’t their ‘gimmick’.

I started drilling into some of these smaller upstarts however to see what is it that makes them all think they have the next killer app for project management.  After getting through several of them, I was impressed and also disappointed at various times.  While each of them bring a slightly different feature set to the market and target a niche they hope will set them apart, the offerings aren’t all that useful, especially from an enterprise standpoint.  (Remember my bias?  Read my 411 if you forget!)  In some cases they just webify (webenize?) tools people have used to track projects for a long time – ie. Excel and email.  Yes, of course online collaboration is much more efficient, but how many of these companies are really going to be able to find enough customers and be able to charge enough to pay the bills?  There will likely be some consolidation going on in the near future.  That might be the best answer for some of the incomplete offerings to survive anyway – partner up with another vendor who complements your features.

Ideally each of these products will be used by small teams or individuals that can work alone as an island, not in a highly integrated enterprise setting.  And if that’s what your small company is, or your small team inside a big corporation, then these tools might just solve some of your day to day headaches when trying to track projects and work in a collaborative environment.  There is certainly no shortage of good ideas that even enterprise software companies can look to borrow.

In my next few blogs I’ll start to document some of my favorites.

Oracle sweeps 22 industries @ Forrester

In a recently released report titled “Introducing Project-Based Solutions”, Forrester Research showed that compared to 14 competitors Oracle was the only vendor with a “High” rated product in every one of 22 sub-industries examined.

Forrester’s inaugural coverage of project-based software solutions (PBS) identifies a new category of software designed to manage and support project-based business processes, provides a business justification for PBS, and assesses the key vendors and their solutions. Use of a project-based solution will be one of the key competitive differentiators for successful enterprises competing in a people-centric marketplace. 

Forrester interviewed 32 customers and 15 vendor companies representing 17 solutions, including: Agresso, BST Global, Computer Methods International Corp. (CMiC), Deltek, Epicor Software, IFS, Lawson, Maconomy, Meridian Systems, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle, Primavera Systems, Sage Software, SAP, and Tenrox.

Oracle Press release

Forrester Research article excerpt