I attend a lot of vendor briefings, usually an annual update or to hear what’s new in the latest release. Last week I had an opportunity to catch up with Lori Ellsworth, SVP & General Manager for Compuware Changepoint, a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution which is one of the top installed PSA products by TSIA members, and one of my top recommended solutions for large enterprises. Lori gave me an overview of the Changepoint 2012 release, and there was so much to love I decided it was definitely blog worthy.
In my 2012 Member Technology Survey, 54% of PS members had budget for new or additional PSA technology in 2012-2013, and the early results from my 2013 survey (open until 3/31) show similar results. Companies are getting serious about moving off spreadsheets and enforcing processes for PS that bridge the gap between CRM and ERP. According to our benchmark data, companies that have adopted a PSA solution have improved metrics in many areas, including hot metrics like utilization rates and rate realization.
With this as a backdrop, the Compuware Changepoint 2012 release has a lot of differentiating features, including:
- UI overhaul. The new version of Changepoint has more of a web 2.0 look and feel, including support for a wide range of browsers. The app looks better, the user controls are updated and intuitive, and they also make great use of browser space to minimize scrolling.
- Mobility. Making use of technologies like HTML5, Changepoint now offers mobile device support for a wide array of devices, including features for time and expense tracking on smartphones, and real-time management dashboards available on tablet devices.
- Offline capabilities. We like to pretend that staying connected 24/7 is easy, but the truth is that life is filled with pockets with no cell reception (like my neighborhood), and places where connectivity isn’t allowed (hospitals, airplanes). Compuware Changepoint has been brave (if you’ve ever helped develop an offline synching application you’ll know what I mean–it ain’t easy) and introduced offline capabilities on the laptop using an Excel based expense template, with a typical use case that a PS consultant can enter their expenses offline while flying home from a project, and the expense report can be uploaded as soon as they reconnect.
- Embedded analytics. Last year I published a report about how service organizations were leveraging big data, and what I found is that few service organizations have a standalone BI tool, or the expertise to use it. The companies getting the most value from analytics have adopted platforms with “best of breed” analytics embedded in the platform. This is the route Compuware has taken, embedding IBM Business Analytics (Cognos) into the Changepoint 2012 release. The release includes a library of real-time dashboards, and that library will continue to grow with each new release. With business user-targeted controls, PS groups can now start doing real analytics–no data scientist involved.
- Document generation. Another OEM partner included in the Changepoint 2012 release is Intelledox, providing smart forms and automated generation of business documents and reports. Using a wizard-like interface which prompts you for needed data, Intelledox shortcuts the creation of statements of work, complex project bids, etc., increasing accuracy and saving hours of time per report. The rumors I’ve heard from the field is that existing customers can’t wait to get their hands on this integration.
- eLearning. Compuware Changepoint has developed a library of training courses–all designed to be consumed in 5 minutes or less–to help new users get up to speed quickly. As an example, there are 40 lessons alone for working with the project worksheet. Contextual help is also available, linked to every part of the application, including an option to personalize the online help and eLearning to contain company specific information.
I thought I would share Lori’s responses to some of my questions:
John Ragsdale: When I look at a PSA platform with as much sophistication as Compuware Changepoint offers, I’m surprised that so many companies–including many large ones–have yet to adopt PSA. But with high planned spending, luckily this is changing. Among your customers and prospects, what do you see as the catalyst that forces them to finally move to a PSA platform?
Lori Ellsworth: While the timing may be different for every organization, we see a couple of catalysts for investment pretty consistently:
- Revenue growth – either it is already underway or is planned near term, with an expectation of sustaining that growth rate. Organizations need to drive growth while maintaining or growing margins, which they cannot do while “flying blind”
- Greater dependence on services for adoption and delivery of an organizations product
- Changing services portfolio – need to optimize core services and build higher value add services
- Global expansion
- Planned resource growth
- Managing mergers and acquisitions
John: The Changepoint 2012 release is hitting on some very hot trends. One of those is mobility. What are requirements or use cases for mobility you frequently hear from PS customers?
Lori: We see the two most prevalent groups pushing to work in a mobile environment are executives and services consultants. For the executive who carries their device everywhere, we are delivering real time visibility into key business metrics and dashboards on the tablet. For consultants or anyone “on the road”, the advantages of tablet and smartphone access is about time and expense management , and participating in business process – making it easy for them to do both so that they can focus more of their time on billable projects.
John: Another trend you are leveraging in this release is embracing big data, and you can’t do better than an OEM of IBM Cognos–one of the most popular BI products available. Could you talk about how real-time dashboards can help PS management become more proactive?
Lori: It is essential that services leaders are able to have “real-time” visibility into the health of their business, because as you suggest, they need to be proactive. Whether they are looking at dashboards for utilization, rate realization, margins, performance by line of business etc. anywhere access to data allows them to operate their services business better by identifying issues and trends while there is still time to have an impact!
John: I’ve been wanting to see a demo of the Intelledox integration since I read all the buzz about it on Facebook when it was first announced. I have to think with budget cuts being a common theme for 2013, this is a “must have” integration. What sort of time savings are your early adopters seeing?
Lori: Our expectation is that this solution is all about saving time – we have a wealth of information captured in the Changepoint solution for every part of the business. Our Intelledox partnership allows them to leverage this information to build real time critical business documents, and get them quickly out to the customer. Think about a Statement of Work for a services organization, which must contain standard legal info, terms and conditions and customer specific pricing and detail, all in a professionally presented document. With the Changepoint/Intelledox solution, dynamically choose the template and text need, insert customer specific data from Changepoint and publish the document in multiple formats. The alternative is to do this manually – very labour intensive and error prone. This is one very specific example and there are many others, but the savings from this can be enough to justify the investment!
I’d like to thank Lori Ellsworth, and the rest of the Compuware Changepoint team, for the briefing and demo, as well as for entertaining my questions. And as always, thanks to you for reading!