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Project tool uses Java, Net

Netmosphere will unveil software designed to let executives, managers, and customers track numerous projects.

One of the few companies to make real world use out of Java has found a new use for the project management applications in it.

Netmosphere in San Mateo, California, will unveil Monday its Project Home Page application, a software system designed to let corporate executives, project team members, and customers track the progress of numerous projects.

Project Home Page is designed to run as a standalone product or on top of Netmosphere's ActionPlan project management software. ActionPlan is also Java-based and is software for single teams to manage their individual projects. Project Home Page is for managing all those individual projects. It is also designed to be deployed over a corporate intranet so teams and executives based across the country can access it.

JWT Specialized Communications, an advertising firm in Los Angeles, is currently rolling out ActionPlan and Project Home Page to its creative and sales teams located in 25 offices around the country. It is so they can collaborate on projects more easily. Currently, projects are managed manually by keying them into Microsoft Word and Excel spreadsheets.

"It's cross platform, which is great for us," said Kai Yen, JWT's manager of information systems. ''All our production people are on Macintoshes and our sales staff are on PCs. There are not many applications that cross over. ''

Allen Bonde, analyst at the Extraprise Group in Boston, said, for Netmosphere, it's a way to move up the corporate ladder of its customers.

"Project Home Plan has some value for project managers but more importantly it's a way for Netmosphere to go upstream to executives,'' Bonde said.

Bonde said Netmosphere, like many small vendors whose product is mainly isolated to a few desktops, is salivating for ways to move throughout an enterprise. And one of the few methods is to move a product up to the executive ranks. Project Home Page is one such product.

"They can use it as a beach head to expand the charter of the product and sell it more as an enterprise product than as a workgroup product,'' Bonde said. "That way they are getting some of those value priced deals as opposed to the commodity desktop."

But Netmosphere doesn't have much time playing alone in this field. Bonde warned it's only a matter of time before Microsoft with its Microsoft Projects product and other players who build traditional client-server desktop-based project management tools redesign their software to run over the Internet.

Project Home Page costs $1,000 and requires Netmosphere's Collaboration Server which costs $10,000 for up to 500 users and $25,000 for up to 2000 users. The Project Home Page client includes viewers at no charge. ActionPlan is not required but is the only project management software that will automatically update Project Home Page. It starts at $20,000 for 100 seats.