Here is another cross post on enterprise 2.0 tools from the FASTForward blog. As I continue to look at products in the Enterprise 2.0 space, I recently talked with Tim Low, VP of Marketing at eProject. The firm began as an online project management suite in the late 90s as part of the Web 1.0 wave. They survived the dotcom bust and have grown significantly recently as they have transitioned to web 2.0. They are now moving beyond managing projects to broader enterprise collaboration around business processes but their PM origins shows through in positive ways. EWEEK named them a finalist in their excellence awards in the Enterprise Collaboration category for 2007.
As part of their offering, eProject is now supporting the integration of personal productivity tools, like MS Office with the their Enterprise 2.0 platform, allowing for broader enterprise access to data that was formerly locked up in siloed applications. This also allows employees to work within the familiar Office applications and have their data and content uploaded into the enterprise collaboration platform. Tim mentioned that this is designed to provide a system of record for the work of the enterprise. At the same time, the enterprise authentication and security operates behind the scene to provide control over this integration.
This productivity tool integration also includes Outlook’s calendar and task functions allowing task updates and appointments to be created in Outlook but automatically shared with the enterprise eProject application. This integration, like the one with Office, allows users to stay within Outlook but have their actions recorded in eProject. For example, you can update eProject tasks from within Outlook, assign time worked on a task to specific days in timesheets from within Outlook, and manage eProject appointments from Outlook or eProject.
Another capability is the ability of business users to create custom applications. eProject calls this toolset for building new applications “dynamic applications”. This allows work group to design applications that wrap around their business processes rather than requiring work groups to conform to the processes embedded in enterprise tools. It also allows them to build these applications themselves without relying on IT, if necessary. Open XML-based APIs allow for integration with other web tools. The project management origin of eProject provides robust support for the definition of these processes. Tim described these process centered as ‘mid-office’ in contrast to the back office of ERP and front office of tools like CRM. The mid-office area has traditionally been overlooked from an enterprise IT perspective. This land of interactions is perhaps the most strategically important of the enterprise as McKinsey reported a while back in The Next Revolution in Interactions. Enterprise 2.0, in part, is about bringing proper technical support to the relatively neglected mid-office.
They have an eProject blog. One of the recent posts was Top 10 Ways to Use eProject DeskDocs. This feature gives you a Windows Explorer view of all the documents in all the projects you have permissions for, again allowing for access through familiar tools. It is part of their MS integration. The post discussed various ways to use the Windows Explorer interface to interact with eProject applications, such as creating a desktop shortcut and having team members drag and drop docs into it for uploading to the eProject app. You can also access files stored in eProject folders from Office tools such as Word. I like this bridge between old and new. It will help with broader adoption of Enterprise 2.0. In my next post I will provide some success stories with current clients.