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Standpipe Studios

Doing project management properly often requires creativity, skill, and really good software. Standpipe Studios aims to help.

Doing project management properly often requires creativity, skill, and really good software. Detroit-based Standpipe Studios aims to help IT managers with the software component at least. Co-founder Mark Phillips talks about simplification, success, and going into the trenches.

How sparked the development of the Vertabase Pro software?

After nearly three years in business, we found that there was a demand for better organization in companies. We thought we could build a Web-based tool that could bring a new level of simplicity and ease-of-use to project management.

Why do you think there’s a need for the product?

There’s a big demand for better organization. Most companies and processes are not as streamlined or efficient as stakeholders would like them be. That includes employees and freelancers who often bear the brunt of poor planning, and managers who have to pay for it. Our tool helps improve processes, saving companies time and money, and often, increasing morale. It has been estimated that simple process improvements can save up to 25 percent on a project.

Another big need we fill is simplifying project management. Many of the tools currently available are too complicated or difficult to use or implement. We hear this all the time. Either a company has spent money on something which never gets used or people just get scared of ever using a tool. There are so many horror stories.

How has the software’s success affected the company?

We’ve seen steady growth in the product every year. There is a demand for better organization in both good times and tight times. In the good times, it’s driven by a desire to make people’s lives easier, capitalize on growth opportunities and a willingness to adopt new technologies. When times are tighter, I think companies are even more focused on making the most of the resources they have and increasing productivity where they can.

What are the largest challenges that you see in providing your service?

Communicating our message is the biggest challenge. So many people have been burned before with project management. There’s a lot of apprehension in the market. Also, companies bought technology in the late 1990’s that took some time to pay off. I think there was a bit of an overhang in the market and a hesitation in buyers’ minds the last couple of years. But, I think that’s changing. It seems that previous technology investments have started to justify their expenditures and that there is renewed impetus for further productivity enhancing tools.

Do you have anything in the works for the future?

New features and expanded capabilities in Vertabase Pro. We upgraded our development platform to Macromedia Cold Fusion MX. This has given a whole new range of flexibility in terms of where we can take the tool.

Outside of Vertabase, we recently got into the content arena. We launched a Web site focused on real-world advice on project management. The site is called All About The goal of the site is to develop content for people who are in the trenches, doing projects, managing projects, but who have little time or interest in more formal project management courses or theories. It’s all very practical, hands-on. We want to demonstrate the value of better organization without jargon. The editorial approach is to pull things out of the world of the specialist and to make them accessible, and useful.

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