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Written By: Carol Webb

When newly-weds Julian and Sarah Stone decided to escape the Auckland rat race for Christchurch, scope for trout fishing (him) and horse riding (her) were prime drawcards. But they were soon caught up in the development of worldclass workflow management software that is selling like hotcakes from the website.

Design specialist Stone, a speaker at Canterbury Sofware Inc’s July Elevator Cafe, describes ProWorkFlow as “a little bit of software that can create big changes in a business”.

He found himself in the workflow software business when, after the move south, Sarah became involved in his visual communications business. “At that point it became apparent that most of the business was in my head. Sarah urged me to get some sort of system in place so that knowledge about what was going on was accessible to her.”

Stone teamed with an Auckland-based developer and ProWorkFlow was launched in November 2002. The first sale came just one hour after an announcement on Macromedia’s tag library and there are now more than 100 users, 98% of them out of New Zealand. American companies in many states have embraced ProWorkFlow and have supplied glowing testimonials for the product. Stone says the client list includes big names such as AT&T, Disney and the US military.

However, the target market was small businesses, especially small software development houses, where he finds people are “really open to change”.

Although he has had only three face-to-face meetings with the Auckland developer, they have wasted no time enhancing ProWorkFlow. Version 2.0 is almost market-ready, with many new features, and versions have been developed for Macintosh and SQL 2000 users. By the end of this year he plans to have Chinese, German, French and Spanish models available, as well ColdFusion.

ProWorkFlow variations start at US$199 and range up to US$799 for an open source, customisable version which comes complete with source code.

Stone says he has been happy to keep ProWorkFlow’s profile relatively low key while developing Version 2.0, and has been working closely with the existing user base to plan and implement new features. He says he will be making it easy for existing users to upgrade to Version 2.0.

Meanwhile, his past experience as a victim of a “dot com bomb” – the upside was that was how he met his wife-to-be Sarah – has made him determined to build on sound business fundamentals.

“I’ve been in a dot com bomb and I’ve seen what happens. I’ve tried to do this right and that means no investors, just sweat equity.”

And tracking workflow efficiently plays a big part in “getting it right” in the kind of businesses buying ProWorkFlow, he says. The software is designed to reflect the roles of individual staff members within the organisation.

“We have really done our market research and we found that people don’t like software that is not really made for them but is made to carry out certain functions regardless of who is using it,” he says. “By designing ProWorkFlow to be a friendly application, and basing it on roles, we have addressed that issue.

“For example, the receptionist can call up the tea or coffee preferences of visiting clients and find out whether they take milk or sugar.”

Web-based, ProWorkFlow has multiple job and client tracking options and a log-in facility enables clients and contractors to view progress on jobs. Time recording against different jobs is made easy. Prospective buyers are offered a comprehensive trial/demo at the website.

To further boost uptake of the software, Stone says a partners program is being implemented that will allow development companies or consultants to resell the application, in original or customised forms, to their clients.

“Our goal is to become the leading, or one of the leading, workflow software suppliers,” he says.

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About the author:
Julian Stone, CEO – Project, Task & Time Management specialist for:, &

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About The Author:
Julian Stone begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting is the CEO of ProActive Software, developers and creators of the leading web based project management software