PSA contenders

Asta Development

Headquarters: Telford, UK
Established: 1996
Flagship customers: Balfour Beatty, Berkeley Homes, Severn Trent Water

Asta bills itself as a provider of “project programme and resource management software”, and is used primarily by construction and engineering companies. It focuses on providing a ‘middle layer’ of project and resource management applications to companies that have already deployed front- and back-office software products.

Augeo Software

Headquarters: Nijkerk, Netherlands
Established: 1998
Flagship customers: Daimler-Chrysler, Rabobank, Carrefour

Arguably the most high-profile European PSA company, privately held Augeo claims that sales grew 35% in 2001. However, the company also closed down its direct operations in the UK during the year. Augeo’s product is a broad PSA suite that aims to provide “an enterprise backbone” for professional services organisations.


Headquarters: Ontario, Canada
Established: 1992
Flagship customers: Dell, NCR, Sprint Canada

Changepoint is highly praised by analysts for its optimisation of both processes and individual employee performance, and for its strong reporting tools. The product also offers a range of mobile functions. With the release of Changepoint 7.0 in November 2001, the company introduced survey management and new financial control features.


Headquarters: Emeryville, California
Established: 1995
Flagship customers: Ericsson, Sun Microsystems, EDS

Struggled with dwindling revenues in 2001, but the release of Evolve 5 in March 2002, with its strength in resource management, along with some recent Fortune 20 wins, will “alleviate concerns about Evolve’s viability”, say analysts at Forrester Research. Evolve embeds portfolio management function from Prosight for strategic planning and execution.

Lawson Software

Headquarters: St Paul, Minnesota
Established: 1975
Flagship customers: Schlumberger, Lucent Technologies, Fluent

Lawson is better known as a supplier of enterprise resource planning software, but its PSA software builds on technology acquired in its July 2001 takeover of PSA specialist Account4. The product is particularly strong in resource management and offers enhanced work request features, say analysts.


Headquarters: Redwood City,California
Established: 1997
Flagship customers: Bear Stearns, British Telecommunications, Eastman Chemical

Niku’s eponymous ‘service relationship management’ software focuses on “the middle office”, bridging front-end (customer facing) and back-end (financial settlement) operations, and incorporates project management tools acquired in its August 2000 acquisition of ABT.


Headquarters: Pleasanton, California
Established: 1975
Flagship customers: Ford Motor Company, BEA Systems

PeopleSoft’s Enterprise Services Automation (ESA) offers strong time and expense and human resource (HR) functions, reflecting the ERP company’s roots in HR software, while its acquisition of Skills Village in May 2001 has added services e-procurement capabilities to the portfolio.


Headquarters: Austin, Texas
Established: 1989
Flagship customers: Allied Irish Bank, Bausch &Lomb, Adidas-salomon

A project management specialist, PlanView claims 170,000 licensed users since its first multi-thousand implementation in 1993. While Forrester Research analysts praise PlanView’s product for is flexibility and scalability (its largest clients approach some 10,000 users), it nonetheless still has “a project management look and feel”.


Headquarters: Austin, Texas
Established: 1998
Flagship customers: Vignette, WebMethods, Cardiff Software

Aimed at mid-size IT services organisations, QuickArrow’s product, Enterprise Consulting Suite (ECS), has proved popular with software companies. QuickArrow is strongly focused on Microsoft environments, offering bi-directional integration with Microsoft Project 98 and 2000.


Headquarters: Radlett, UK
Established: 2001
Flagship customers: Midas Kapiti, IBM Global Services UK, UK MOD Defence Estates

SharpOwl focuses primarily on the financial aspects of running services organisations, and Aberdeen Group analysts praise the company’s strong project costing and billing functions. Following a EU9.8 million investment from UK venture capital group 3i, SharpOwl was spun off from its parent company, Foundation Systems, in June 2001.


Headquarters: Montreal, Canada
Established: 1992
Flagship customers: Zenith Industrial, Whirlpool, John Deere Harvester

Systemcorp still touts itself as a project management tool – “and it shows in a very work breakdown-oriented interface”, say Forrester analysts. Nevertheless, the company’s rich workflow, advanced resource management and graphical portfolio views appeal to manufacturing and engineering services companies.


Headquarters: Quebec, Canada
Established: 1995
Flagship customers: Johnson &Johnson, US Steel, Astra Zeneca

Unlike large-scale, ‘end-to-end’ PSA products, Tenrox’s product is designed for modular and incremental deployment. Lacking in its own project management and scheduling functions, Tenrox focuses on close integration with Microsoft’s Project product. It also offers wireless options for time and expense, and customisable workflows for capturing and tracking change requests.


Consolidation time

Software markets that are over-populated with numerous companies all attempting to address a broad range of functional needs are ripe for consolidation – and the PSA market is no exception. During 2001, a number of software suppliers found out to their cost that there are simply not enough PSA deals to go round – with a resulting slide in revenues at these companies. In July 2002, two such suppliers, Portera and Novient both announced they were being acquired.

In Novient's case, Australian company Solution 6 came to the rescue. While Novient has focused on project-based services automation, Solution 6 specialises in the financial aspects of services automation for non-technical professional services companies, such as law firms and accountancy practices. Solution 6 plans to retain the Novient brand – extending it to encompass its own Cabs2000 suite. Cabs2000 offers a number of functions that Novient has historically lacked: time and expense processing, billing and invoicing. Functionality aside, the deal offers Solution 6 the chance to expand its North American operations, but will do little to help it in Europe – Novient recently closed down its international operations in the region.

Portera's professional services business, meanwhile, was acquired by Exigen Group, a serial acquirer of troubled companies. Portera's ServicePort suite, a subscription-based set of web services, combines resource management, task tracking, accounting, collaboration and reporting capabilities that are accessible through a standard web browser. In addition to offering ServicePort as a standalone PSA suite, Exigen has announced that it will incorporate ServicePort capabilities into its Business Process Utilities (BPU) services for insurance, telecommunications and financial services firms. Exigen's BPU model is designed to allow companies in a given industry to leverage a shared infrastructure to lower the cost of non-differentiating business processes. In addition to the ServicePort suite, Exigen reports that it will benefit from Portera's deep expertise in multi-tenant hosting operations and delivery of enterprise software over the Internet.

In both cases, the financial terms of the acquistion were not disclosed – although it is unlikely that Novient and Portera's investors have seen a healthy return on their substantial venture capital investments.



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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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