Today in our annual Software September feature I’m talking to Christian Kotzbauer, Managing Director of Genius Project. He has been with Genius Project for over 14 years and is based out of the company’s office in Germany.
I talked to Christian about his role and the future of project management software. So without further ado:
Hello Christian. What does a Managing Director of a software company do all day?
On a daily basis I am involved in managing and following up on sales objectives, which requires prioritising customer, employee and organisational requirements. I am sort of like the bridge between our Marketing and our Sales department; my goal is to make sure their activities are aligned to deliver maximum results.
I’m also heavily implicated in developing our organisation’s strategy and goals and communicating it to our staff, which means I am in touch with our multinational offices every day. To have a strong handle on our strategy, I must also take part in overseeing the design, marketing and quality of our product. I always have to be thinking ahead as to what improvements we can make both at an organisational level and on a product delivery level.
Wow, that sounds busy, and more wide-ranging than I expected. Genius is often nominated for awards and has a successful track record. What has been your proudest moment at the company?
We’ve had a lot of monumental moments at Genius, but I would have to say that our recent Top 100 Award in Germany was my proudest moment; to be more specific, we won the Top-Innovator Excellence Award.
I had the honour of accepting the accolade on behalf of the organisation from mentor Ranga Yogeshwar. The room was filled with leaders from the largest industrial companies, which as you may know, are the key drivers for the German economy. Needless to say, we were all proud that Genius Project could be recognised amongst such an influential group of leaders.
Congratulations! What changes are you noticing in your user base now that we have a lot of people in the workplace who have never known a world without Facebook?
The new generation of employees entering the workforce demand cool, simple and easy to use tools that are accessible from anywhere. As an innovative company, we are quick to note changes in user behaviours and to respond to them.
Three years ago we introduced our own social collaboration software on the market, which we have continuously expanded and improved on over the years. Although we are accelerating this trend and support it with new features in each version, we are keen to ensure that all of our users have the option to adopt this trend at their own pace.
Talking of trends, where do you think the project management software industry is going to be in 5 years?
People will continue to demand access to their tools from anywhere around the world at anytime. Privacy and security issues need to be addressed before it can fully take off, especially for organisations and countries that have a compelling need to protect their data.
I think the challenge that most vendors have is that their tools and features are powerful but not always simple, especially for the new workforce. In my opinion, the software industry is definitely moving towards simplicity and accessibility, but with an increasing demand for powerful features.
Organisations are responding to these demands in new and innovative ways, such as cloud, mobile and social computing. We can see even in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant that more and more companies, including Genius Project are investing in cloud-hosted deployment of their software, because it is an inevitable shift which we must all adapt to.
People will continue to demand access to their tools, from anywhere around the world at anytime. However, I do strongly believe that privacy and security issues need to be addressed before it can fully take off, especially for organisations and countries that have a compelling need to protect their data.
Finally, we will continue to see more software being written by a group of contributors, not only a company. This is the direction we are moving in: more collaborative, more social and more accessible.
I’d definitely agree with that. What new features have you added to the software recently and why do you think they will make a difference to project managers in this new world?
We’ve made several additions to the software but some of the more interesting ones include a new dashboard pane that was added in GeniusLive! (our social collaboration platform); the new pane displays a user’s tasks and To Dos so that they can access most of their project work without referring to the standard menu navigation.
Genius Project has also integrated with Outlook, enabling automatic synchronisation between Genius Project and Outlook, as well as viewing Genius Project “feed” in Outlook with Tasks and To Dos.
Another great feature that we added is the ability to send and receive email within Genius Project. This allows users to extend their communication with external people who do not have access to the Genius Project system. It is possible to share any “Generic” records or documents via email by simply using the standard email “Forward” action within Genius Project. Users will also receive notifications in GeniusLive! when they receive email responses, they can manage email threads which will be stored in the system and leverage this function to push emails from programs such as Outlook and Gmail to Genius Project.
We’ve also enhanced our Gantt Chart (Genius Planner). The enhanced capabilities include rich text description field of the tasks within the Gantt Chart and the option to define task properties in Genius Planner.
OK, so what is next for Genius?
We will be launching a new release this coming fall, Genius Project version 8.0, where we have
completely revamped the user interface to simplify navigation, increase performance and improve usability.
Due to high demand from clients and prospects we further improved the Agile and What-If Analysis features. We wanted to ensure that our product is lightning fast in this product release, as a reflection of our mission to improve project efficiency.
Great, thanks for sharing those thoughts!
Full disclosure: Genius Project has been one of my blog sponsors this year but in case you were wondering I was not paid for this interview.