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Count Trilog Group among the first of what's sure to be a deluge of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) (define) providers emerging from relative obscurity to capitalize on the application-delivery model popularized by Salesforce.com.
Trilog Group, a privately held company based in Woburn, Mass., this week launched ProjExec Online, an on-demand project management and real-time collaboration service geared for small- and mid-sized businesses (SMB) that want the tools to coordinate their projects with multiple participants but don't want to deal with the hassle and expense of buying and hosting their own on-site applications and servers.
What may help Trilog Group's offering stand out from competitors like eProject, which has its own on-demand service called Project Portfolio Management, is the considerable clout and credibility that comes from building the service on IBM's WebSphere portal technology. ProjExec Online runs on top of IBM's middleware and includes Skype's VoIP (define) service as well as Big Blue's Lotus Sametime chat and Web conferencing applications.
It also doesn't hurt having a strategic partner like IBM to help market the service and promote it through its extensive partner and distribution channels.
"We were technically ready a year ago," CEO Alex Homsi said in an interview with InternetNews.com. "It took us a year to get a deal done with IBM. But now that it's done, a lot of IBM customers are going to hear from us. We are the role model for other SaaS independent software vendors going after the SMB market."
Homsi said Salesforce.com's success has opened the eyes of enterprise customers, given the SaaS model credibility and created new opportunities for software developers and service providers, particularly those gunning for an SMB market that IBM pegs at more than $487 billion and growing more than six percent each year.
"It's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy," he said. "Salesforce.com did it with CRM. I think project management is where people need the collaboration tools the most and more and more they want this pay-as-you-go model. Let people use the tools they've been using all along but improve the way they execute their projects."
Project managers can incorporate documentsMicrosoft Project or Word or Excelthrough the ProjExec Online interface, establish controls determining who can and cannot access or edit the project plan and then distribute the plan and all corresponding updates to the appropriate colleagues, customers and partners. It provides a color-coded dashboard alerting project managers and team members when a project is running behind schedule or falling apart altogether. Users can click away to make phone calls or send instant messages from within the same interface.
"We wanted to keep it simple and give people the sense and confidence they're running in IBM," Homsi said.
As companies increasingly turn to on-demand providers to access and develop software beyond traditional customer relationship management (CRM) (define) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) (define) applications, independent software vendors will be copying Salesforce.com's formula.
"This is another in a long line of disruptive innovations," said Denis Pombriant, an analyst at Beagle Research Group. "On-demand computing and application development just keeps getting bigger and better. It's beginning to make it very hard to be a conventional software vendor because the on-demand model is changing the economics of the industry."
ProjExec Online has a tiered pricing structure ranging from $25 to $40 per user each month.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.