Too big for the silo, too small for the enterprise

| February 5th, 2009 | , ,

Finding the right web-based tool for your business is not an easy task. Often times it requires researching several different hosted offerings in the SaaS realm. Finding a good fit is especially difficult if you find your small business growing and are worried about outgrowing an online project management software.

Once you’ve found the application that fits your needs, it’s important to consider the near- and long-term future. How will your relationship with the online tool play out? When we originally built Intervals, and as we continue to evolve its project management capabilities, our goal is to provide an online tool that neither does too little nor too much. We want to find that sweet spot between the silo app and the bloated enterprise offering. And for good reason…

Standing inside a silo offers a great view of the sky, but not the surrounding landscape

If you’ve ever been to the midwest, you’ll understand what I mean. Silo apps misrepresent themselves as project management software, but provide too little in the way of features for small business. While some companies may be able to get away with running their business on task management software alone, many small businesses taking the silo approach will find themselves using one tool for time tracking, one for task management, and yet another for billing and invoicing. They will have a great view of each aspect of their business, but not much understanding of how it all fits together.

Enterprise solutions have conquered every square mile of terrain, but have forgotten to look up

It’s a big planet we live on. Small businesses don’t need every feature ever discovered and built into project management software offerings. It’s just too overwhelming for a small team, and a waste of time to sift through pages and pages of manuals to find that one feature you do need. And then begins the task of convincing your employees to do the same. Soon you find yourself spending more time running your software than your business. The goal of your small business is to get things done and get paid, not to spend time and money learning goliath-sized software and sitting through expensive training courses.

The Happy Medium

Fortunately, there are some project management software companies, like Intervals, who have recognized this void inhabited by wandering small business refugees and are working on ways to fill it. We’ve developed online project management software that combines the best features of the silo apps so that you don’ t have to subject your project management experience to one sub-component of your day-to-day work flow. Nor do you have to string together several APIs to map a complete landscape of your business. The idea behind Intervals is that all the needs of your small business—from estimating and managing a project to invoicing and collecting payment—should all be handled inside one project management tool.

Our approach may not be the perfect answer for everyone who finds themselves stuck between the silo and the enterprise, but we are finding there are countless small businesses out there who identify with this paradox and are finding Intervals a good fit for their needs. In addition, they are gladly trading in their multiple silo apps for one project management tool that meets more of their needs.

What do you think? Is it time to pack up and move?

Lear

4 Responses to “Too big for the silo, too small for the enterprise”

  1. Jacek says:

    I would love to use only Intervals, but I’m forced to stay with Basecamp and Highrise also – unfortunately Intervals doesn’t provide the communication/collaboration and contact management functionality on a level similar to those apps. It would be great to have everything under one roof.

  2. Drew says:

    Hi Jacek maybe give Apollo a go… http://www.apollohq.com . I can’t vouch for it just yet, it’s still in beta, I got my invite last week. But it’s not bad. It integrates contact and project management, and it’s “under one roof”. Like Intervals, it’s very much “Web 2.0” — it’s basically a single page application! I might not work for you, but who knows.

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John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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