Primavera opens federal sales group

Primavera Systems, a developer of project management products and services, has launched a new division and a new product suite to reach public-sector customers.

The suite includes modules for earned value, project, resource and portfolio management, along with capital investment justification. The company believes that the time is right for such a product because of the increasing government focus on management.

Although the new public-sector office will help agencies deploy solutions, the company's strength is not in hand-holding, said Primavera's chief executive officer, Joel Koppelman.

"We do not run project management offices for people," he said. "We're more focused on the technology."

Nevertheless, Primavera boasts a staff of subject-matter experts, including Koppelman, who co-authored "Earned Value Project Management," a book published by the Project Management Institute.

Earned value management (EVM) is a mystery to many agencies, particularly on the civilian side. Using it as a management process means collecting data about projects as they unfold and comparing the actual status to earlier timelines and budget projections at multiple points throughout a project's life. EVM's proponents say the technique can keep large initiatives from going wildly off-track.

The concept is one that agencies will have to get used to, said Herb Strauss, a vice president at Gartner. The Office of Management and Budget just made EVM a requirement for information technology projects costing more than $20 million, and agencies must include their EVM strategies in their business cases for large IT projects. Under the OMB directive, agencies have until Dec. 31 to create policies for using EVM.

Primavera is "in the right spot at the right time, with the right track record. They're very visible in the space," Strauss said. "They do a lot of thought leadership [and] publishing. Their executives are very vocal."

The company has competitors, but it also has a wide-open market to tap, Strauss said.

"Integrators don't have a lot of experience" at marketing EVM services, he said. "They can make the shoes, but they can't sell the shoes. This is a pretty good way to go. [Primavera] may not keep the government group around forever, but this is an opportunity."

EVM was a niche market until recently, he said, making Primavera's commitment to it seem prescient.

For Primavera to spend resources developing EVM capabilities "was risky for them because the government walks away from these things as much as they adopt them. But the government hung in with it."

Shaw Cohe, senior principal for defense at Acquisition Solutions, compared EVM to par in a golf game. The project manager establishes values for tasks that make up the deliverable items, then tracks the project's progress and actual costs against the plan, striving to come in at or under the predicted costs.

Koppelman said the government accounts for about 20 percent of Primavera's business worldwide, and the company's products have about 2 million users.

EVM in 10 easy steps

1. Define the full scope of the project.

2. Determine who will perform the defined work.

3. Plan and schedule all defined work.

4. Estimate required resources and authorize budgets.

5. Determine metrics for converting planned value into earned value.

6. Create a project baseline and determine points of management control.

7. Record all direct project costs.

8. Continuously monitor earned value performance.

9. Use earned value data to continuously forecast final required costs.

10. Manage the baseline by approving or rejecting changes and incorporating approved changes quickly.

Source: "Earned Value Project Management" by Quentin W. Fleming and Joel M. Koppelman

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