Uncovering the secret - Queensland Chamber of Commerce Monthly Newsletter

16-May-2012

You probably haven’t heard of IPM, a software platform from IPM Global. It’s a bit of a secret … one the company is very quickly trying to publicise.

Essentially, where other project management software trundles along reactively, IPM Global realised that project management is, at its base, dynamic relationship management.

And CRM software was right there waiting to be repurposed.

Headed by solutions architect Reef Fielding and channel manager Miree Le Roy, the Brisbane company’s staff roster barely makes double figures, but mega-dollar projects rest on what IPM Global alone can make computers do.

“We’ve been a software development company since 1995,” Le Roy said. “We did some software development products that went into large North American companies, and they bought those from us in 2000.

“Then we started this product – in concept stage – about four years ago.”

The idea was to manage a project like a series of relationships rather than a series of numbers. The second string of the idea was to avoid resistance by making the solution as unobtrusive and unthreatening as possible.

So rather than spreadsheet-based, IPM is email-based – using the well-accepted Microsoft as its platform – while still being able to integrate old school systems based on manual inputs going into hundreds of spreadsheets.

“Really, (our clients) do things manually and have recording after the fact, where our system helps them manage, not the reverse,” Le Roy said. “Because unless you can give people something that they can and want to use, they will go back to the old way.

“So we have something different to what has been out there for the past 25 years in terms of project management software.”

That approach is IPM. Much as MYOB hides a wry touch behind a powerful acronym, the Queensland company’s flagship product expands simply to ‘It’s Project Management’.

Based on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform, Le Roy said IPM merges clever, active thinking within a platform project managers already know how to use – their Outlook inbox.

“The sorts of documents that they generate through their project managing… when they go out their outbox, they get automatically filled in their system database, and when someone responds to that, the document is filed against that original.”

Of course, IMP Global might not have invested in four years and a total business rebranding if it didn’t think IPM would succeed.

“In setting this up, we scoured the net and were gob-smacked to find nobody else was doing this,” Le Roy said. “We just couldn’t understand why nobody else had done this.”

They also made the strategic decision to remain purely a software company – to sell solutions to value-added resellers.

“We provide the product and training and support for the partner, who then deploys it to the customer.

“This is the classic model that most business software uses, the reason being it gives us the ability to sell to larger client base. To sell directly would mean an awful lot of staff.”

Over the past year IPM Global has been selling a fair few systems in Australia but, as in 2000 with their first product, North America beckons with its potential for greater volume.

“Sadly, that volume has not been in evidence the last three years and their construction market is really in the doldrums, but it seems to be waking up now,” Le Roy said.

“If it continues to grow as economic forecasts say it’s going to, then our business here will grow as well.

“And there are also a couple of nice ones we’ll closing fairly soon.

“Once we get those sorts of guys under our belt, it becomes much easier to get more.

“Then we’ll be expanding and putting on more people.”

But that has to wait until the contracts are signed. And that job seems like it would be much easier if the project managers themselves were holding the chequebooks.

“Well, once you present our system to them, they get it. They just understand. Many of them have project management systems already and know the difficulties.

“And because we know the industry, it is easy to hone in on where those problems are, and then we show them a way to solve those problems.”

Le Roy said the result was software that was Queensland-born and “undisputedly the best product in its field”.

“At the moment, it is a bit of a ‘best kept secret’, but these large clients – if they come on board with us – will help us change that.”

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'IPM’s flexibility allowed Opus to develop a tool that collects valuable project data and easily archives that information to be used when pursuing other new leads.' ~ Corey Hanson, The Opus Group