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Celoxis – Your Risk-Free Investment To Successful Project Portfolio Outcomes

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Celoxis is a project portfolio management software development company. Founded in 2001, they are the first-movers in the web-based project management software space. Celoxis is deployed by more than 2,000 customers globally and has been the project management platform of choice to brands like HBO, Bombardier, University of Washington, The Supreme Court of Ohio, KPMG, Del Monte, Jabil, Interim Healthcare, The Cheesecake Factory, UNCDF and Bank Mandiri, the largest Indonesian bank. Below is our interview with Nikhil Daddikar, Co-founder of Celoxis:

Nikhil_Daddikar

Q: Can you give us some insights into your Project Management software?

A: Celoxis is an ‘all-in-one’ web-based platform for project portfolio management and work collaboration. It provides a single online platform for all stakeholders. With Celoxis, portfolio managers and executives can perform regular analysis and assessment of portfolio performances in terms of budgets, risks and returns over a period of time. Project managers can build robust schedules to accommodate virtual project teams across time zones and cross-project dependencies. Team members can work and collaborate on diverse activities such as tasks, bugs, change requests, helpdesk tickets, all within the same tool. This eliminates the need for having multiple specialized tools, which often lead to loss of productivity, data duplication and reporting nightmares. Celoxis natively integrates with Salesforce.com and QuickBooks Online to provide end-to-end management of projects.

Way back in the late nineties, when Microsoft Project and spreadsheets were the de-facto tools for project management, we perceived that the imminent dynamism at the workplace would soon make these tools passe. In 2001, we launched the first version of Celoxis. Knowing that On-Premise deployment was a necessity and that a Cloud-based (SaaS) service would also take off in a big way, we provided for these options in the software from day 1. Today, Celoxis is still one of the very few PM software to offer SaaS and On-Premise deployment options. We are the pioneers of free client portal, realizing well before that project clients were no longer interested in standing by the side lines and being fed with status reports. They are demanding real time visibility into project status and risk scenarios.

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Q: Your software is currently deployed by more than 2000+ customers globally, what makes Celoxis unique and different in the market?

A: Celoxis is the first Indian SaaS company and is successfully used by customers, ranging from midsized enterprises to Fortune 100 companies. We developed Celoxis keeping the customers’ challenges in mind. Every feature is aimed to solve the pain points they face at the workplace. At Celoxis, we not only focus on the software capabilities, but also on how the end-user would actually be using it. We don’t try negotiating between requirements and user experience. These two are focal to our product strategy and vision. The three unique characteristics of Celoxis that make it a true market differentiator are its ease-of-use, customization options and advanced reporting capabilities.

Ease-of-use: 80% of your typical actions can be done without ever leaving your dashboard. And the rest can be easily done in under 2 clicks. A lot of the repetitive ones such as sending updates or participating in discussions can be performed straight out of your email, even without logging in. This is especially important to team members, whose adoption is the most crucial element to any successful software deployment. They can view and prioritize all their work activities, upload documents and even log time or expenses, all from a single platform.

Endless Customization: Every tool in the market gives run-of-the-mill customizations. Celoxis lets you do more, in more places than ever. For instance, you can customize resource work calendars or apply different resource rates to specific projects. And you can choose to have users fill time on tasks not assigned to them. Report viewers can set their individual report customizations such as dynamic filters, columns and groups. Celoxis lets you create advanced formulae, which are dynamically computed and can come in handy in a wide variety of situations. Custom Apps, one of our most recent innovations, not only gives you the flexibility to create your own workflows, but also the power to customize predefined workflows such as for bug tracking or risk management.

Celoxis Reporting: Celoxis has the most advanced reporting engine that gives you a powerful platform to turn all your project data into actionable insights. We provide with rich, interactive charts to help visualize your project data. All charts are drill-down, which helps identify problems and make data-driven decisions. Celoxis is probably the only tool in the market that allows creating reports not just on standard fields, but also your custom fields, including formulae. In Celoxis, we also have a unique concept of “ReportRunner”, which eliminates the need to create multiple identical reports. For example, if you need Joe’s tasks for Joe and Mary’s tasks for Mary, you need to only create one report and use the “ReportRunner” concept. When Joe is looking at the report, he sees only his tasks and likewise for Mary.

Q: What’s the best thing about Celoxis Technologies that people might not know about?

A: Enterprise projects today demand multiple skills and multiple work assignments across distributed teams and time zones. All of this demands high levels of productivity and seamless exchange of real-time information. While managing projects, we don’t want to go to another application to administer open bugs or go to our Drive spreadsheet to monitor risks and certainly don’t want to go through our emails to figure out whether the client signed-off on a particular change request. We want all of them in one place. And imagine if your team also fills time on bugs, in addition to their project tasks. If these bugs are present in a different application, then they will have to fill time there and then consolidate things in a third in-house application. Just think about the time spent by employees completing information in multiple tools on a daily basis. Add it up over a period and what you get is a significant productivity leak. With Celoxis, it’s all there in one place, all of your related work activities, tasks and processes within a familiar interface. We have pre-built bug tracker, risk register, change request management, project approval and other apps. You can also build your own e.g. client approval workflow or a leave tracker. You can customize any sequential workflow to suit your organizational process. And all of this is tightly integrated with the core, so you can leverage the same reporting capabilities and consolidate all your insights at one place. So, in essence, we are a risk-free investment at an affordable price to any business seeking a solution to their project management challenges.

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Q: Can you talk about one good case study, where you have actually caused business impact?

A: A premier US-based provider of software solutions and business consulting found themselves struggling for productivity, efficiency and accountability. Several projects were routinely initiated, some of them later sidelined, while few others suffering heavily from overburdened resources. Amid disparate systems and remote teams, they had instituted several manual processes over time. Reporting was dynamic and not channelized. The different repositories made it nearly impossible to ensure weekly and monthly reports were up-to-date and accurate. They also lacked insight both at a granular level and as a big-picture view of everything involved.
Their key problems included:
1. Disparate systems, remote teams, and little project visibility
2. Manual processes and ad-hoc reporting
3. Diminishing value management

They were seeking a solution that would be integrated and easy to use, and one that would help them understand which projects should be funded and which should not. Putting aside the most apparent choice, Microsoft Project, because of its limited solutions to their problems and after evaluating close to 20 online PM solutions, the company piloted Celoxis for three months. The test also involved their external consultants across locations, to ensure seamless working. Visibility into projects and resources as well as common processes across the delivery teams feeding into their new PMO were the main drivers for choosing Celoxis. After a rapid onboarding, team members were quickly up and running on Celoxis. Within a month, the adoption was great, and teams were using Celoxis 100%.

Benefits they derived from Celoxis:
1. House all of project, resource, financial and client data in one, easily accessible central location, reducing project coordination costs by up to 60%.
2. Prioritization of projects and real-time synchronization between dependent projects.
3. Streamline workflows across remote teams and channelize communications across all stakeholders.
4. Timely notifications and updates to project managers and PMO, virtually eliminating weekly meetings and boosting productivity by almost 65%.
5. Real-time reporting and dashboards to give their PMO up-to-date information and detailed metrics. This improved visibility of all execution costs from approximately 48% to more than 95%, saving half a million dollars.

Q: How do you compare to your closest competitors?

A: Being the co-founder of a company that makes PM software, I often get this question. You have to understand that project management software is scattered across a wide spectrum. At one end you have simple programs like Basecamp for simple requirements and complex programs like Primavera for complex requirements. Basecamp doesn’t have sub-tasks or Gantt while Primavera allows you to do Monte-Carlo simulation on project portfolios! It can do things most tools can’t. But is it necessarily better? May be or may not be! Why? Because it depends on a number of factors: requirements, budget, ease of doing business with vendor, product continuity, customer support, team buy-in, etc. So it’s not appropriate for somebody to compare or evaluate both Basecamp and Primavera.

To give you an analogy, in the world of cameras, at one end you have the heavy and complex full-frame DSLR camera that captures the best pictures, while at the other is the simple yet convenient point-n-shoot camera. We (Celoxis) are trying to make a camera that looks like a point-and-shoot camera but with the picture quality of a DSLR! In terms of competition, we have been consistently rated among the top 5 enterprise project management software by independent buyer platforms like TopTenReviews, Reviews.com, Capterra and G2 Crowd.

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Q: What can we expect from Celoxis in 2016? What are your plans?

A: Our strategy is multi-pronged, with focus on the product, infrastructure and customer adoption. On the product front, our roadmap is as aggressive as our customers’ growing targets. We had three product releases in 2014 and two in 2015. We will continue to push the boundaries with focus on innovation and customer experience in the coming years. We recently upgraded our SaaS infrastructure to use state-of-the-art servers to provide better than the best response times. This year, we will continue to make significant investments on our infrastructure and training resources. Our continued focus has also been on building customer organizational champions or support groups, and not just an increasing customer base. Any successful enterprise software implementation relies solely on internal policing and support groups to ensure its continual adoption and usage. This helps ensure that people are using the tool the way it should be. And the vendor cannot be this police.

Q: Where is project management heading in the next few years?

A: Project management continues to amaze me with each passing year. When I came into this field, in the early nineties, project management was essentially about classroom-trained managers gaining control. Too much time was wasted on status meetings and with all the effort and time spent, nobody had a clear picture of what’s going on.

In early 2000s, newer theories and approaches culminated in shifting the focus from controlling projects to optimizing them. It was this era of ‘Project Management 2.0’, which shifted the authoritative environment to a more collaborative one. Experts still argue as to whether traditional project management is better for large projects and we don’t have an answer yet! Software vendors jumped this bandwagon by nicknaming the trend as ‘Social Project Management’. But we need to understand that this Project Management 2.0 is not true social project management [Read: Social Project Management – Hype vs. Truth]. Last few years have seen Project Portfolio Management (PPM) take center-stage and PMI’s introduction of portfolio management certification is an indication of its growing significance. Going into the future, we recently published our outlook for 2016 [Read: Definitive Project Management Trends for 2016 – The Celoxis Outlook], which talks about the growing complexities of projects and the existence of more project-oriented enterprises.

Project Management Software tools have proven themselves to deliver significant gains to enterprises and its time for organizations to use the right combinations of governance and tools to continue to succeed. The Lazy Project Manager (Peter Taylor) once said, “My hope for project management is that it continues on the path of becoming a key skill that all business managers, all business leaders have.” I couldn’t agree more!

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