Less than a year after the launches of Polaris PSA, Replicon has launched Polaris PPM. Like its PSA solution, the PPM is marketed as a Self Driving PPM solution. At first glance, the product appears similar to the PSA solution, though some functionality is different. Perhaps surprisingly, the pricing is the same at $29 per user per month. The pricing is fixed for all users, and although Replicon offers a trial period, there is no freemium product. Enterprise Times spoke to Raj Narayanaswamy, co-CEO of Replicon, Inc., about the launch.
In the canned comment, Narayanaswamy said, “There are two critical things that Business leaders & PMOs in project organizations must do to be successful. First, getting their resources and projects properly aligned with their strategic priorities. And second, getting up-to-date information on how those projects are performing, so they can make real-time course corrections.
“We created the Polaris Self-driving PPM Solution to solve this problem so that firms can make better decisions, based on a real-time, accurate, holistic view of their projects. Polaris brings together all the data from existing execution systems and provides a single view of projects, resources, and costs.”
Is there a difference between PPM and PSA?
The first question was what is the difference between the PSA and PPM solutions. Narayanaswamy answered, “It’s directed at a different market. PSA is focused on professional services organisations, whereas PPM is directed towards any PMO. It could be an IT department within large companies, so not necessarily a professional services organisation.
“PMOs are where they’re getting projects executed within the constraints of the resources that they have and the ability to plan out strategic projects and prioritise—based on that, getting into resource planning and execution. Very different than professional services organisations where you’re driving client projects, billable revenue and utilisation of staff. There is an overlap of the underlying product functionalities and features, but they go into different segments.”
How is Polaris PPM different from the competition?
PPM is a very crowded market. Narayanaswamy argued that, unlike rivals who have a top-down approach, Polaris has a bottom-up approach. From accurate real-time data will come the answers to all the questions the business needs to ask. These include:
- How’s the project going?
- How much time has been spent on it?
- Is it on time?
- How much consumption?
- How much more is left?
Narayanaswamy summarised his view, saying: “If you don’t have real-time data, then the systems are great, and they look beautiful and produce lots of different reports and dashboards and things like that. But if you’re not getting real-time data, then all that is not really valuable in the end.
“When people buy and implement PPM solutions, or PSA solutions, for that matter, the first thing that gets implemented is a very strong time tracking solution. Most solutions deal with time tracking as a feature. Whereas we think of time as an enterprise asset that’s been our background. That’s really where our strength lies.”
What is in Polaris PPM
At the heart of Polaris PPM is Polaris Smartbeats which collects real-time data from different devices and applications through integrations to Slack, Jira, Microsoft Project, and Asana. This time intelligence is what Replicon is well known for. It then leverages AI to make sense of that data and update project information within the system.
Narayanaswamy also hinted that Replicon is planning a major update of its time intelligence platform called the Zero-Touch Initiative in a few months. The intent is to draw in even more information, understand it, and then drive updates into PSA and PPM, automatically eliminating the data entry duplication. More information on this major update soon.
Polaris PPM includes the expected functionality of a PPM solution.
- MissionControl provides a comprehensive real-time view of the whole prioritized portfolio and details on specific initiatives, resources, or finances. It also integrates with leading BI tools.
- Real-time Project Portfolio Management helps organise and manage all project, resource and cost metrics related to a project portfolio as a single entity.
- Instant Budgets vs Actuals enables leaders to track actual hours, costs, project progress relating to budgets. It manages the accounting for chargebacks, cost capitalization, R&D tax credits and more.
- SmartMatch is an intelligent resource recommendation engine that provides the closest resource option based on the criteria.
- Collaborative Resourcing Workflow enables conversations between project and resource managers around the right resources for projects.
- Skills Cloud provides tracking and smart display of skills, certifications and expertise levels for each relevant resource.
- Project, Resource and Portfolio Governance helps to standardise projects, resources, costing, and other processes across the business.
Polaris PPM is cloud-based, mobile-ready and available globally. Replicon believes it can scale to millions of users. Replicon has also built integrations to other applications to share project, resource, time, and costs information. It has also published a short video on Polaris.
On that Pricing
The pricing was also set to be competitive against companies like Clarity and Planview. Narayanaswamy explained the thinking saying, “They are a much, much higher price than us. We’re pricing based on value and pricing based on ROI. The other big difference is that our PPM is very easy and quick to implement. It’s not going to require quarters and quarters of implementation cycles. They are two different markets.
“We see PSA as very different from the PPM market. Although the underlying product may have 80-90% overlap. PPM may be a smaller product from a functionality compared to PSA, but we did some market testing and pricing and feel comfortable with the lowest price. Of course, if the market gives us different feedback, we’ll be reacting and modifying it in each direction.”
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
With no customer quotes about the PPM, Enterprise Times asked Narayanaswamy how many PPM users there are. He commented that there were some early adopters. He added, “They are already using it and as part of our development process they were offering feedback and they are also influencing the roadmap”
PPM is a crowded sector. There are 23 vendors in the latest G2 PPM Software grid and seventy-eight listed in total on G2. Can Replicon get enough customer reviews to make it onto the Grid? The market leader on the G2 Grid is Smartsheet, which is starting to provide functional and industry-specific versions of its work management solution, the latest, Smartsheet for Marketing.
While Replicon has a bottom-up approach focusing on the common data elements that all organisations collect, will it provide features for specific verticals? It seems not, in the short term, at least with Narayanaswamy confirming the focus on providing zero-touch integrations for Replicon PPM.
It is not alone with this approach. BigPicture, whose owner, SoftwarePlant, was recently acquired by Appfire. BigPicture aggregates data across multiple PPM tools to provide a holistic overview of every project within an organisation. It seems the Replicon is attempting to do something similar.
With BigPicture focusing more on the Atlassian market, it may have opened up a gap for Polaris PPM to take advantage of. It will be interesting to see how Replicon develops the solution.