We talk a lot about Project Business Automation, a new category of business systems we created designed to integrate and automate the business processes of companies who consider projects an important part of their business. But the fact is, PBA didn’t just come up out of the blue.
Over the past 50 plus years, project business technology has evolved in distinct generations. These generations provide the proper context to evaluate PBA against other solutions. When you look at project business systems, ask yourself, “What generation of system am I looking at?”
Generation 0: Project Process
In the late 1950s, the work breakdown structure was invented by the U.S. Department of Defense. Focused on improving how work progress was managed for defense projects, the DoD created the WBS to standardize the operational management of projects. About a decade later, project management as a discipline began to emerge. At this time, there were no systems to support the project process.
Generation 1: Productivity Tools
In the 1980s, work productivity tools appeared in the market in the form of project management applications. Many companies saw the need to digitize project planning and scheduling, so productivity tools were created to manage the WBS. Many were focused on operational planning, with some estimation and costing. During this time, Microsoft Project, Oracle Primavera and Excel dominated the market. However, financial support for projects was lacking.
Generation 2: Project ERP & Vertical Solutions
In the 1990s to 2000s, we saw the emergence of project ERPs and vertical project solutions. Project ERPs consolidated some various project functions under one roof which improved the accessibility of capabilities. The introduction of project accounting features in the ERP came about with companies like Deltek and IFS. At the same time, verticalized project management solutions made an appearance to address the specialized project management needs in certain industries, like construction and professional services (e.g. Viewpoint, Procore, Microsoft Project Operations).
The project ERP companies consolidated many different capabilities in one place through the acquisition of other companies with these various solutions. Although this allowed customers to buy all these capabilities from one vendor, they are still loosely cobbled together in reality. Unfortunately, acquisition does not mean true integration. Many solutions were still capabilities focused and required manual intercepts. And the big missing piece was the lack of full project financial and operations integration.
Generation 3: Project Business Automation
Today, PBA takes a new approach. PBA is a not a point solution, not an application, but rather a business system focused solely on project business. By putting project processes at the center, PBA supports the entire project lifecycle from end-to-end in a completely integrated fashion. That means that PBA seamlessly combines all project business areas, including project financials, operations, and intelligence in a comprehensive business system.
It’s difficult to do a side-by-side comparison of PBA to other products on the market because they do represent different approaches to project business technology. It is critically important to recognize that the way things are built makes a difference in how things work together. PBA isn’t a system that was built by acquiring other vendors with different capabilities. PBA reinvented these project capabilities from the ground up, designing everything to work together. As such, you don’t just get a bunch of different functions, you get a holistic business system that manages every aspect of your projects from start to finish, which results in a range of new and powerful capabilities (see Project Modeling, Project Autopilot).
Adeaca PBA is an example of a Generation 3 project business solution, focused on managing the business of projects. After all, if projects are at the core of your business, they should be at the core of your business system as well.