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ProjectPlace’s Paul Bamforth on collaborative frameworks and project management for enterprises

We probed Paul Bamforth, country manager for ProjectPlace to find out more about the company, how it evolved and how it differs from its competitors. Projectplace’s CEO, Johan Zetterstrom, has blogged for us in the past here and here.

Tell us more about Projectplace. When was it founded and what does it do?

Projectplace is a Stockholm-based company that was founded in 1998 (15 years ago) by Mattias Hällström, who had a vision to radically improve support for professional project management. He has been a driving force behind collaboration and transparency in projects.

We provide web-based collaboration solutions, which allow people to effectively manage information, communication and planning within their business. That’s extremely simple to say but if you stop and think about it for a second – with growth of workforce mobility, geographically dispersed teams, different time zones, cross functional teams, working with partners and suppliers etc. – the world we work in is actually extremely complex and managing that complexity is a growing challenge.

At Projectplace we believe that these three elements – information management, communication across the team and project planning - are critical to the successful delivery of any piece of work. In the traditional sense, many people might consider this project management. To be honest many people just don’t recognise what they do on a daily basis to deliver results as "project management", which is why we prefer to talk about "collaboration solutions". Projectplace provides the tools to help people get things done in today’s workplace. We think it’s applicable to all businesses – government, education and marketing – where people need to collaborate.

Why has Projectplace decided to expand into the UK, and why now?

Projectplace recognises the UK as a major growth opportunity because of the market size, and the existing appetite for social collaboration tools. I was brought in specifically to build our presence and customer base here, and we have just opened a UK office to further expand our UK operation. So. Why now? Based on our understanding and experience working in the UK, now is the right time to build and diversify our UK customer base. Essentially, the market is ready.

The current economic client is also increasing many organisations desire to deliver business efficiency and agility. Moving to a social business platform can help save costs and increase productivity across teams and projects.

The UK office is central to Projectplace’s strategic expansion plans as the business increases its European presence, in response to the demand for social collaboration tools. Projectplace is currently expanding its Netherlands' operation with staff now based in Belgium.

You were accepted onto the UK Government's GCloud framework, is the Public Sector a particular focus for you?

We have traditionally had a very good relationship with the public sector. As the public sector continues to be under increased pressure to decrease expenditure and increase efficiency, organisations are recognising the value that Projectplace offers.

We were recently accepted onto the UK Government's GCloud framework and have been working with the NHS for a number of years. For example, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trusts has been a client since 2005, and continues to be one of our biggest advocates. For example, at this year’s Public Sector Show Kyle McClelland, the Trusts’ Associate Director of Strategic Development spoke about the value Projectplace brings to his organisation.

However, Projectplace is a completely adaptable tool that can add value to any industry. Therefore, at the moment, our strategy is not to focus on any particularly industries. However, we may refine this strategy slightly as we continue our sales efforts here and listen to the feedback of various businesses. We are working with a wide variety of organisations, spanning a range of sectors including, BskyB in the UK and E-on in Denmark

Tell me a bit more about Projectplace's approach to project management? How is it different from the competition?

Projectplace has a really innovative approach to project management and our tools, which combine Kanban planning boards and Gantt-like visualisation, are really adaptable and can add value to a range of industries in both the public and private sectors. Moving to a social business platform can, I believe, help save costs and increase productivity across teams and projects. From my perspective, collaborative planning represents the future of project management.

How receptive are UK businesses to introducing new kinds of collaboration tools into the workplace?

Very receptive but it’s also a change management project to wean people off email and silo thinking. So it’s not just about buying the product it’s also about educating people on the efficiency and cultural gains from adopting these new ways of working. We believe that collaborative planning represents the future of project management, and will change the way businesses operate. Our tools, which combine Kanban boards and Gantt-like charts, give employees and stakeholder total visibility and transparency on their project/ work. This visual way of working allows people to effectively prioritise work-load, which helps to decrease stress levels. Interestingly, neuroscience dictates that the brain can process images more easily than text.

Desire worked at ITProPortal right at the beginning and was instrumental in turning it into the leading publication we all know and love today. He then moved on to be the Editor of TechRadarPro - a position he still holds - and has recently been reunited with ITProPortal since Future Publishing's acquisition of Net Communities.