Mavenlink bulks up project management suite for professional services firms

Obnoxiously complex diagram

If the term “project management software” sends you into a coma, consider this: Mavenlink Inc. has raised $84 million, counts hundreds of thousands of paying customers in more than 100 countries, and it’s targeting a professional service market that will collectively bring in $3 trillion in revenues this year.

Now it also has a suite of enhancements that the company claims makes it the first software application to deliver end-to-end resource management throughout the entire services business lifecycle.

Mavenlink isn’t a general-purpose project-management tool, but rather targets professional services companies such as the big four accounting firms, marketing agencies and management consultancies, who employ a lot of high-priced talent that they can’t afford to let sit idle. A few years ago, those people might have all been in the same place, but these days talent is often spread across the globe, making resource allocation a nightmare. Mavenlink gives project managers the tools to plan, budget, allocate and track resources across complex projects, accounting for variables like geographic diversity and business expertise.

CEO Ray Grainger, who was formerly a global managing partner at Accenture LLP, cited the example of a 100-person marketing agency that needs to anticipate demand, hire people with the right skills and juggle work assignments across multiple projects and multiple clients around the world. Mavelink gives them “a holistic view of how to execute,” he said.

Competing with spreadsheets

Mavenlink takes a full-lifecycle approach to resource management, beginning with sales commitment and continuing through to project delivery and analysis. “It’s making assignments, moving people around and determining where people should be deployed across a wide variety of projects based on their skills and experience,” Grainger said. The company’s chief competition is spreadsheets and whiteboards (pictured), tools that are “error-prone and that tend to lead to over-hiring and lower margins,” he said.

The company’s full product suite encompasses task/schedule management, project accounting, business intelligence, resource management and team collaboration. It integrates with most enterprise resource planning systems and can now tie into Salesforce.com Inc.’s customer relationship management suite to automatically incorporate sales opportunities into project plans.

The new resource management capabilities announced today cover estimation, planning, execution and optimization:

  • Estimation has been beefed up with project templates, role-based forecasting/scheduling and resource requests and approvals.
  • The planning phase, which involves moving resources from a pool to the project, just got master planning, role- and skill-based project allocation and visual resource planning.
  • The execution phase gets a project resource planner, configurable weekly schedule view and resource change-management workflow.
  • The analysis and optimization phase looks back at completed or in-progress projects to improve efficiencies. This release adds projected versus actual utilization; planned and scheduled availability; total utilization by role, function, region, and other factors; daily scheduling for billable and non-billable hours; and billable capacity forecasting.

The company’s price list says a package of project management and financial features is priced at $39 per month per user. Grainger said a more typical package with a full range of features is priced at $79 per month per user.

Image by Travis Grathwell via Flickr CC