Managing the Product Introduction Portfolio

Framework adds analysis tool in ActiveProduct 9.0 to give execs more visibility into, control over projects

Burlington, MA  September 30, 2002  Framework Technologies today rolled out the latest version of its product introduction solution, adding cross-project analytics and new capabilities to facilitate user adoption and optimize overall system performance.

Framework, traditionally known for its collaborative product development solutions, said ActiveProduct 9.0 is intended to help bring order to the chaotic mix of cross-functional activities involved in the product introduction process and to provide decision support for executives looking to manage a portfolio of product introductions.

The challenge for large, global enterprises, in the provider's view, is coordinating a great number of product introductions across various divisions, as well as synchronizing the introduction processes across different functions within a given division. Executives currently lack the visibility they need into those processes across the entire enterprise, Framework argues.

The ActiveProduct suite comprises three existing applications. ActiveProject provides functionality for managing discrete product introduction projects, allowing individual team members to collaborate online. ActiveProcess, aimed at project and department managers, helps companies align their various projects so that they follow a standard process, while ActivePortfolio gives senior level executives tools to compare projects and to align the total project portfolio with strategic company objectives. "What we're trying to do overall is connect a company's strategy at the top with the activities occurring at the bottom," said Kevin O'Leary, Framework's director of product marketing.

The primary enhancement in the new version of ActiveProduct comes in an optional feature called Cross-Projects Analytics (CPA), which allows project leaders to compare open issues involving activities and operations across all projects and then identify, prioritize and resolve these issues in order to meet schedule demands. CPA, which can be added to the ActiveProject or ActiveProcess modules and already is included in ActivePortfolio, allows project leaders to extract information based on their unique needs by offering a variety of analysis options, such as name, activity type, category and product information. The solution then lets managers look at daily operational details versus strategic objectives in order to encourage teams to constantly focus on activities that align with corporate strategy.

In addition, version 9.0 offers a Software Developer's Kit (SDK) option that will allow companies to develop application programming interfaces (APIs) to bring information from other enterprise application into the Framework environment, for instance, to include external information that might drive a decision-making process, or to export information from ActiveProduct into other enterprise systems. "Team members shouldn't have to enter information twice, and the more that information can be automatically updated between enterprise applications, the better our system is going to do in terms of synchronizing the team," O'Leary said.

Finally, the new version of ActiveProduct includes offers a Scalable Graphics Processor Service option, an add-on to ActiveProject that allows the system to conduct its graphics processing tasks on a separate server or across multiple servers with the goal of improving the performance of graphics operations and eliminating the impact on other team activities.

Framework said it has added functionality to the solution's constituent applications, such as new business policy automation in ActiveProject, offering the ability to manage and track formal and ad hoc business activities so reviews, information requests and approvals can occur automatically, the idea being to free project managers from tedious administrative tasks while allowing for better management of unplanned activities.

ActivePortfolio now includes an ad hoc portfolio analysis capability, which, Framework said, enables executives to interactively define individual analysis views using a wizard-based interface. The definitions are stored uniquely for each user but can be exported and shared with other executives and/or added to the company set of standard analyses. ActiveProduct offers new add-in modules that allow users to publish information directly to their project workspace from Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Pricing for the Cross Project Analytics option ranges from $5,000 to $25,000 for up to 1,000 users. The Scalable Graphics Processor is priced from $7,200 for 50 users to $18,000 for 1,000 users, while the SDK is available for $35,000 for 25 users. Price includes a development server. ActiveProduct 9.0 will be generally available in October 2002.