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Our core product ProWorkflow ( hit a milestone recently with over 1,000,000 hrs tracked through the solution. This was time tracked on 100,000 projects, for about 300,000 tasks. Based on average studio hourly rates, this equates to $100,000,000 as an approximation of the value of work managed using the ProWorkflow solution.
This made me consider the difference between a fully funded startup (with millions at their disposal) and a sweat equity based startup (no funding/investment) both competing to get a mature product to the market.

I came to the conclusion that whilst having huge financial resource up front is definitely helpful, it’s not absolutely necessary when it comes to product development. The ProWorkflow tool was developed over 4 years by a sweat equity based team dedicated to solution perfection (not product perfection). I say ‘solution’, as it needs to solve real world problems, otherwise it’s nothing more than eye candy.

The ProActive team have spent countless evenings, mornings, weekends and probably 4-500 releases tweaking the solution, listening to customers, tweaking some more, listening…

The tool has now reached what we consider to be a ‘mature’ level, being used for real business (not early adopter business) around the globe as well as having a local following in New Zealand. In addition, as a sign of maturity, the average size company adopting the solution is increasing. These companies expect ROI, and ProWorkflow is delivering.

The point to all this?

I honestly believe, that if we’d started out big, fully funded, with plenty of staff on payroll, the solution’s direction & customer centric development approach could easily have taken a backseat to other pressing matters as marketing, staff issues, overheads and pleasing shareholders.

I’m proud of where the solution has gone thus far. Having 100,000 projects run through the system has given us significant testing/refinement time, but more importantly, due to the close relationships with our customers, we’ve developed great experience in the Project Management/Business systems realm.

Conclusion? I think it takes a massive commitment to customer centric development over time to establish a mature product. It doesn’t just take money, rather the right attitude and approach.

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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