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IDeWeb Provides Best-of-breed Product Portfolio Management Functionality for the Manufacturing Sector

Written By: Neil Stolovitsky
Published On: February 8 2006

Introduction

Although the majority of product portfolio management (PPM) vendors have focused their efforts either in the professional services market or on addressing the needs of internal information technology (IT) departments, there are a number of vendors who have strategically carved out their space in the area of new product development (NPD). For manufacturing organizations seeking to improve time to market and effectiveness in NPD, Integrated Development Enterprise (IDe) offers a PPM best-of-breed solution.

Established in 1998, IDe is a privately-held PPM vendor based in Concord, Massachusetts (US). Its flagship product, IDeWeb 5.3, provides a product development information repository and business decision support analytics that offer best-of-breed functionality specifically for NPD projects in the manufacturing sector. IDe strategically focuses its PPM solutions for the electronics, food and beverage, specialty chemical, and telecommunications industries. Since the recent appointments of Craig D. Divino as president and chief executive officer (CEO) of IDe in May 2005, and Randall Sword as vice president (VP) of Professional Services, IDe has substantially increased its professional services offerings, which are integral to effective solutions, and is effectively leveraging the company's product development domain expertise. IDe is also using strategic technology and marketing relationships with IBM and Dassault Systems to accelerate growth in 2006 and beyond.

To this point, IDe has primarily focused its efforts on Fortune 1,000 enterprise companies in the $1 billion (USD) to $10 billion (USD) revenue range, as well as on large departments (within these organizations) with over $300 million (USD) in revenue. It boasts clients such as Qualcomm, PepsiCo, Praxair, and Kyocera Wireless.

IDe Web Overview

IDeWeb 5.3 is the most recent release of IDe's web-based NPD solution. Built on a Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) architecture, it can accommodate the unique needs of both discreet and process manufacturing vertical markets. IDeWeb offers the following six main modules in its solution.

Idea Management The idea management module helps stakeholders manage new ideas for new products prior to production. This component is not only critical at the front end of NPD, it is an essential stage in the commonly adopted stage-gate methodology employed by companies developing new products. In fact, idea management is effectively integrated throughout the stage gate process. IDeWeb handles idea management by integrating with a third-party vendor, Imaginatik. Imaginatik's Idea Central is tightly integrated with IDeWeb to provide best-of-breed idea management within the context of NPD projects. It allows users to capture and share ideas in a centralized repository, enabling innovation, collaboration, and feedback among contributors. Such third-party integration with a comprehensive vendor provides significant advantages over the typical and basic idea management offered by other vendors.

Pipeline and Portfolio Management This module allows management to analyze the viability, risk, and performance of NPD projects from both investment and resource perspectives, produce what-if scenarios on-demand, and make necessary changes to increase throughput, revenue, and profitability. Data can be viewed in a variety of formats (graphs, bubble charts, etc.) at any stage in a project. This module showcases IDeWeb's strongest capabilities by providing easy to configure pipeline and portfolio management functionality that is unique to distinct vertical markets and business challenges.

Phase or Stage Management This module supports the popular stage-gate and product and cycle-time excellence (PACE) phase review methodologies, which are used in NPD projects to standardize phases, gates, milestones, deliverables, executive and core team reviews, and cycle-times for projects. Phase review management allows for the centralization of information in a web-based environment that can be accessed by phase review managers, executives, and others in order to track projects and make timely go or no go decisions on projects. IDeWeb provides a solid phase management module that supports schedule, deliverables, milestones, executive reviews and approvals, and team collaboration, all of which are crucial to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and time to market in NPD projects and portfolios.

Program Management Program management provides basic capabilities to track resources, schedules, financials, and risk information for projects and management interdependencies. IDeWeb provides project templates based on historical projects to assist in the creation of new projects. Moreover, bi-directional integration with Microsoft Project allows users to manage program details for more detailed project management.

Financial Management The financial management module allows organizations to create financial plans for new products and track forecasted project costs against actuals. In addition, financial costs related to groups, users, and portfolios can be tracked and planned. Integration with Business Objects allows for more complex analyses.

Resource Management IDeWeb automates resource management processes across NPD projects, portfolios, and platforms, enabling companies to effectively plan and manage resource needs, assignments, and capacity by skill, named resource, or resource group. Time management is achieved through seamless integration with Journyx for detailed resource tracking and management; this information is updated in IDeWeb through batch process scheduling.

IDe Web Architecture

IDe has adopted a J2EE backbone architecture that allows its application to work in multi-platform environments. While legacy systems and IBM platforms (as well as Microsoft platforms) are commonly seen in manufacturing environments, IDe's J2EE platform allows for a more flexible deployment that can support multiple databases. It was for these reasons, as well as for its flexibility, security, and ease of use when supporting a large number of users that IDe adopted the J2EE architecture. This move is also aligned with its strategy to leverage IBM's technology and marketing.

IDeWeb provides high level PPM capabilities and integrates with strategic technology partners, such as Journyx for detailed time management, Microsoft Project for granular project scheduling and planning, Imaginatik for comprehensive idea management, and Business Objects for robust business intelligence. From a technological point of view, IDe offers a customizable and flexible solution that is adapted specifically for the manufacturing industry.

Product Strengths

IDe has strong portfolio management and business intelligence capabilities. Since its solution is easy to configure, IDeWeb allows organizations to create input forms, capture data specific to their business, and generate reports and analyses, which provide real value to their business. Scenario analysis, including what-if analysis of project resources, portfolios, and pipelines, provides management with rich on-demand data that compares actual versus proposed options. In addition, IDeWeb's integration with Business Objects allows for more comprehensive real time reporting, permitting users to drill down into report details.

More importantly, IDe has picked its battles by serving only the few vertical markets that are best suited to its offering. By adopting a best-of-breed approach specifically for NPD projects, it has focused its efforts in both discreet and process manufacturing industries specifically on the electronics, food and beverage, specialty chemicals, and telecommunications verticals.

Product Challenges

For organizations looking for broad PPM capabilities in the areas of professional services or IT governance, IDeWeb may not be the best solution. IDeWeb is also less than suited to address people-centric projects that require tracking granular schedule and resource information by day or week. This is because IDe provides bi-directional integration with Microsoft Project for scheduling, but promotes its own resource management engine, and integrates with Journyx for detailed time tracking and management through batch process scheduling.

In terms of domain expertise, IDe has chosen to limit its business focus to NPD solutions for the manufacturing sector, including software and other IT projects which are integral to NPD in the electronics and telecommunications sectors. Should a manufacturing organization want to expand their portfolio management capabilities to other portions of the business (e.g., IT governance), a broader solution is recommended.

Summary

It is refreshing to see a PPM vendor like IDe that has a clear vision of its direction as an organization. IDe clearly built its solution specifically for NPD in the manufacturing sector. For manufacturing organizations in the electronics, food and beverage, specialty chemicals, and telecommunications sectors, IDe provides additional portfolio management functionality and domain expertise. IDe is particularly strong in the electronics market, offering industry-specific functionality in platform management.

However, IDe solutions likely will not meet the needs of organizations seeking broader PPM functionality. IDeWeb is built specifically for NPD, for which high level resource management integrated with portfolio management is preferred. It provides decision-makers with accurate information to sequence projects optimally, and to deliver more and higher value products to market in a shorter time frame. In general, broader PPM functionality is needed for services-oriented projects that require more detailed resource tracking and project information.

 
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