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ProActive Software was interviewed recently by www.fastservers.com. This is the server facility housing ProWorkflow.com’s servers. They’re a dedicated team of professionals who we totally recommend.

Here’s the interview link:
http://www.fastservers.net/blog/web-hosting/software_as_a_services_prowork/

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Software as a Service: Proworkflow

posted on November 30, 2007 4:37 PM. by Aaron Phillips

Almost 1 year to date I did an interview with Julian Stone of ProWorkflow to discuss his business model and software as a service. During this interview he discussed the future of his organization and I wanted to follow up with how things have transpired over the last year. In case you didn’t get a chance to read the first interview you can jump over to that post below.

Here’s the original 2006 interview:
http://www.fastservers.net/blog/interview_with_fastserversnet_1/

Q1: What milestones and accomplishments has ProWorkflow made in the last 12 months?
The last 12 months have seen a huge amount of product refinement, with version 5 released and approximately 20+ incremental updates. We listen to customer feedback and have put many of their ideas into the solution.
There has also been plenty of effort put into smoothing out the ProActive Software business system. The ProWorkflow solution isn’t just simply a product, but rather it’s a product, client account and billing area, server technology, backups, knowledge base and our back end license management system. The ProWorkflow product is just part of a larger solution designed to help businesses run more efficiently.
We feel it’s a great accomplishment to have put all this solidly in place so we can offer a great solution to companies needing to manage their staff and projects.

Q2: What’s your take on the buzz around Web 2.0 and how has it impacted ProWorkFlow?
Personally I think there is far too much hype surrounding the subject. I’ve written a lot about Web 2.0 on my personal blog http://www.julian101.com. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on the issue, but I see Web 2.0 as a new phase of web applications. Better usability, better use of technology, tools like AJAX improving user interaction, more community focus, user led solutions etc.
However some people see Web 2.0 as simply big buttons, cutesy roundy interfaces and ridiculously simplistic odd little applications. Whatever we deem it to be, there is a change occurring in the applications market and some great new tools appearing (and some terrible ones :-).

Q3: What new features to your software have been added in the last 12 months?
Too many to list (about 50+ key features) but the main product features added are: Timeline (Gantt-like), Staff Workload Report, Calendar, Project Forum, More Reports.

Q4: Does ProWorkFlow classify itself as “Software as a Service”?
Absolutely. www.ProWorkflow.com (developed by www.ProactiveSoftware.com) is a great example of what Software As A Service (SaaS) should be. Automated signups and trial systems, low inertia (low touch) sales process, hosted delivery, monthly rental, all backups and server maintenance is managed for customers, automatic billing etc. It’s ‘Software’ delivered as a ‘Service’. And to provide true service, A SaaS provider needs to have many systems and processes in place behind the scenes to ensure reliable and fast access to the solution.

Q5: The last time we spoke you were working on an ‘Enterprise’ project, what are the results of that project?
The Enterprise release is the fully hierarchal release of ProWorkflow which includes teams, roles, divisions etc and is designed for 100-1000+ staff. It’s being user by a small number of companies currently. One of the known names on this release is Fossil USA who run a large design team (100+ users) on ProWorkflow Enterprise. It’s working out great for them and they’ve managed thousands of projects through the solution.
We haven’t really pushed this release too hard as the core ProWorkflow product is the current focus. Enterprise is an offering we mention to only the companies that require this level of control.

Q6: You stated one of your biggest challenges was “assembling a team and infrastructure in order to scale up the operation”. What steps have you taken in the last 12 months to meet that challenge?
We’ve taken on sales support staff and another developer – still a tight team but don’t need to scale the people up too much further for a few more months… In regards to infrastructure, we keep finding ways to tune servers and automate processes, so the operation runs smoothly. And when our servers and processes run smoothly, so does the solution for the customer.
In the past 12 months we’ve put in more subscription servers (at FastServers), increased backup frequency and tightened security further. Everything we do with processes and technology is to make the solution a solid consistent offering for the customer.

Q7: Tell us who is using your software and what problem they are solving by adopting it into their organization?
Firstly, the main problem people solve with ProWorkflow is managing staff efficiency and having a management overview. The ProWorkflow solution helps customers business to ‘Run Smoother’…

Regarding customers, there’s plenty, and probably a lot you haven’t heard of, but a few more common names would be: Fossil, MySpace, Fox, Air New Zealand, Thomas Jefferson University, JuiceTV, Vital Music and a lot more.

The solution is used by many different industries such as education, military, banks, legal, manufacturing etc… although the two main ones would be creative’s (Design Studios and agencies) and IT businesses (Web developers).

Q8: What is the New Billing System and what features does it boast?
This isn’t actually a feature in the application, rather the new Billing System is a comprehensive tool we built to manage customer account payments. The old billing solution we used was slow and clunky and difficult for customers so we built our own. So now, a customer can keep a credit card (and backups) on file with us, and be charged for their account monthly, automatically. In addition they can view invoices and download statements all from the Client Area on the ProWorkflow website. It’s a much better solution for both us and the customers.


Q9: Does ProWorkFlow focus on Vertical or Generic Business Applications, and why?

Well! It’s interesting that you ask that question as I have just (a week ago) written a blog post on that subject. Here it is: http://julian101.com/2007/11/saas-vertical-vs-generic-business-applications/
Although the ProWorkflow solution does have plenty of users in many vertical industries, we try to keep the solution generic as many industries have fundamentally the same workflow issues. Many companies need to manage projects, tasks, time and staff.
If we targeted only one vertical market, ie: Advertising Agencies, we’d miss out on a lot of opportunity. At last count, ProWorkflow was used in over 100 different industries so I don’t see any reason to focus on a particular vertical at this stage.

Q10: What can we look forward to in the next 12 months?
Heaps! And frequent releases! The team are working hard on version 6.0+ which is due out in Q1, 2008. This includes about 50 new features and numerous enhancements such as an incredibly flexible Reports Builder, Recurring Tasks, Statuses, Organizational chart, Internal Projects, new Alerts system, full Team, Group & Division Hierarchy, Web 2.0 Interface overhaul, AJAX, an API and a lot more.
There will also be a strong focus on usability and speed. And yes we have some further tricks up our sleeve…

Q11: Do you have any additional comments you would like to provide about your company or software?
Other than “Your business could be losing more than the cost of the ProWorkflow solution through inefficiency”? (shameless plug!)

My main comment would be, try the solution for free you’ve got nothing to lose and could gain a great deal if the solution delivers what it promises. And with the servers on FastServers.Net robust platform, you can rest assured your data will be safe.

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About the author:
Julian Stone, CEO – Project, Task & Time Management specialist for: ProActiveSoftware.com, ProWorkflow.com & Julian101.com

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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 http://www.proworkflow.com.