Monday, September 04, 2006

When Should a Product Change its Name

If you've been following this blog or TeamDirection, then you know something really cool is coming down the pike: TeamDirection Project for SharePoint 2007 and Groove 2007. Two versions, actually. One that works purely as a smart client, and a 'Plus' version that works as a really smart client-- it distributes data to SharePoint lists and Groove forms (the Task and Link lists and forms), and synchronizes that data so that the manager can post tasks and the workers can report progress from SharePoint or from Groove.

It's all very cool, but do you think TeamDirection Project for SharePoint and Groove might be just a tad unwieldy? I can't imagine anyone sitting in a meeting and taking the time to ennunciate all the elements of that title. And TDPSG is nonsensical. So it just might be time to think of a better name.

The considerations: If someone comes across a software title called "TeamDirection Project", its a fair bet that someone will associate that software with something to do with projects. But what if I'm looking for SharePoint and Groove integration? TeamDirection Project doesn't tell me that. So how much have I gained by having 'Project' in the name?

Of course, you could be the de-facto standard, like Microsoft Project. But if you're not the de-facto standard, and you follow the same naming convetion, then you might be confused with the de-facto standard-- or worse, be thought of as a knock-off. The reality is we are trying to do something MS Project does not (talk to Groove) and does not very easily (talk to SharePoint out of the box). If you want resource leveling and awesome reporting, use MS Project. If you want to share specific MS Project tasks across SharePoint and Groove users, use IntelliGantt (oops, foreshadowing alert!).

BTW, I was in a conference call last week with Microsoft and heard MS Project has sold more than 18 million copies over the years. 18 million. Standard lists for $599 and Pro lists for $999. Do the math. Even though TeamDirection is a private company and private companies rarely like to disclose numbers, it shouldn't surprise anyone when I admit we have sold slightly less than 18 million copies since we've been in business.

But back to naming.

If you have a project management application, you want something catchy, but still meaningful somehow. While MasterBlaster may be catchy, 1) its already taken by numerous other entities and 2) does that give me any hint about it being project management? It is cool for precision concrete microblasting though (the first search result).

So I'm pushing 'IntelliGantt', with maybe a subtitle like 'Project Management'. Or better yet, 'Workgroup Project Management' since we are so ideally suited to... workgroups! Something like this:

Now does that tell you we can latch onto a summary task in MS Project, publish it to SharePoint or Groove tasks lists and synchronize the changes all the way back to MS Project? No, but that doesn't make for a good tag line either. And it does have that 'Gantt' part to it, which is definitely associated with project management.

The idea is to establish IntelliGantt as workgroup project management, and if that entails moving data from MS Project or Mindmanaged to SharePoint and Groove and back again, then that's what TeamDirection IntelliGantt will do.

It's as much about naming and branding the problem niche as about naming the software solution. Obviously my preference is IntelliGantt, but there may be other good names out there too. Of course, IntelliGantt has the benefit that we have most of the search results. And I got the domain name. We have a local creative group coming in whose stuff I like, and whom I don't mind plugging (Graphiti), and we'll see where things go from there.

I just have this nagging suspicion that 'TeamDirection Project for SharePoint and Groove' just doesn't roll off the tongue like a good name should.

But IntelliGantt. Kind of catchy....

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