By Bill Rojas, SAP Digital

The latest new product to be listed on SAPStore.com just makes me smile. It’s called PieMatrix Pie. How could you get more creative about visual project management software than to name it after a food favorite? And once you learn a little more, I think you’ll agree that the name makes perfect sense. Here’s why.

Project management is an agile, circular process. Whether you are installing software, onboarding a new employee, developing a new product, or for that matter, making a pie. You begin at the beginning, go through phases, complete a number of steps, and finish. Then you do the same thing again on the next project.

I don’t mean to oversimplify – and that is actually the point. In a business setting, most projects involve multiple people and often, many complex and interrelated stages.

What if you and your team could visualize each of these stages and steps as a slice of a pie? And what if you could improve upon them, and then easily share those ideas with team members for use on the next round?

That’s the concept behind PieMatrix Pie: to help teams run successful projects by reducing complexity, engaging people with creativity, and encouraging a culture of continuous improvement.

The secret ingredient: continuous improvement

I love this example from Paul Dandurand, CEO and founder of PieMatrix. “Of course we use Pie ourselves,” he told me, “for managing everything from finances to onboarding new employees. So when one of our new programmers popped into my office at the end of his first day to tell me his car had been towed, I realized we had a process disconnect. I neglected to show him where to park. That is not the best way to start a new job. So after paying the towing fee and retrieving the car, I made a note on our Pie onboarding template to tell new people where they can legally park! It’s never happened again.”

I asked Paul how he came up with the idea for Pie to begin with. “I was working as a consultant, helping companies with IT people scattered across the world to standardize on processes and get out of their silos,” he explained. “Every one loved it, but once the methodology was posted on the server somewhere for future access, it just ended up collecting dust. I challenged myself to find a better solution where the process would be accessed at the team member’s fingertips in real time.

“When I began to think about project management as process-based rather than task-based, I visualized a circular image with project phases as slices of that circle – that’s when a “pie” hit me in the face,” he continued. “The visual aspect makes it easy for people to comprehend projects with complex processes, especially for those who have no project management experience. Many complex projects have multiple workstreams executing in tandem. For example, a new product development team works in parallel with the marketing team on a new rollout project. In the past they would draw parallel process boxes on a whiteboard. With Pie, instead of using a whiteboard, they can storyboard inside Pie as visual objects and then click a button to turn the process into ready-to-execution action steps. Secondly, many organizations end projects with a lessons learned meeting to post up ideas for change on sticky notes. The problem is what happens after the meeting? Is there accountability to turn those sticky notes into action? With Pie, the lessons learned ideas are converted into process change in real time, making it ready for the next project. Finally, Pie is about having “how-to” content at the team’s fingertips as they do their work. Getting work done is not just about checking off the tasks as completed, but completing those tasks really, really well.

“The market has a ton of sophisticated projects tools, yet Standish Group research shows overall project success rates have dropped from 31% to 29% in the last few years. I believe it’s because the knowledge worker doesn’t have the right knowledge content at their fingertips, as projects are getting more complex. They also don’t have a way to turn captured lessons learned back into better process content for future projects. This is where Pie makes a difference. It’s all about engaging people, sharing ideas, and making continuous process improvement work.”

Many different flavors in use cases

Paul launched PieMatrix – now shortened to just Pie since that’s what customers call it – after he sold a successful business and was ready to bring this new idea to fruition. He and his team built a product ready for market, and found several companies willing to beta test it, mainly for IT projects. It wasn’t long before these companies, all of which became paying customers, began suggesting other applications for the tool.

Today, Pie customers include Vermont Energy Investment Corp., which uses Pie to implement new product development (NPD) portfolios that introduces new sustainability products and services. Systems integrator Navin, Haffty & Associates use Pie across the U.S. to implement electronic healthcare records (EHR) for their hospital clients. And the State of Vermont found Pie useful for managing and governing government infrastructure grants across the state. These and other Pie customers use the Pie visual project management software to run complex projects that utilize repeatable processes.

Now serving Pie at SAP Store

As with so many business opportunities, Pie’s introduction to SAP was through a referral. “Margo Visitacion of Forrester Research mentioned us to SAP Digital who was looking for new SAP Store partners,” Paul said. “She introduced us, and here we are. I’m excited about the launch. It’s a great way for a small organization like ours to get exposure, and we are really enjoying working with the SAP Digital team.”

In case you haven’t sampled it yet, SAP Store is our online marketplace offering software, education, and data from both SAP and third parties. Prices are PayPal and credit-card-friendly, and you can try and buy with a simple click-through process.

Why not start with a taste of Pie? Let me know what you think in the comments box below.

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