Highgate Management taps Prolog to enhance collaboration

The project management software's record keeping functions helped during litigation.

Highgate Management returned to Meridian Prolog management software after breaking free of a non-ideal merger that had squashed the project management consultants’ first deployment. The software has helped Highgate collaborate with partners and protect itself from litigation.

Highgate was established in 1991 and has worked on a wide range of projects, including in healthcare, education, industrial, commercial and residential. “Our core is getting a brief from someone and turning it into a building,” said founder, Michael Jessett.

Jessett said he first adopted Prolog software for the company in 1995, when he realised "we needed some software to get some polish on the way we present our information”. At the time, the company was relying on fax to work with partners, he said. “Prolog offered a pretty good way for us to manage budgets and project information.”

When Highgate merged in 2004 with a larger consulting company, the larger company did away with the Prolog software, Jessett said. But in 2007, Highgate backed out of the merger and became its own company again. Jessett quickly brought Prolog back to the table.

Since Highgate first used Prolog, the software has “gone through quite a bit of development since we first started using it,” he said. “It’s based on Web services now, so you are able to offer external parties access to the system” for knowledge sharing.

Highgate considered a rival management platform, Primavera, but Jessett said it didn’t “quite have the reporting [capability] that Prolog has”. Meanwhile, Microsoft software didn’t provide the ability to “link information the way you do in Prolog,” he said.

“Generally, we use Prolog to link project participants,” Jessett said. “We can nominate Prolog as the medium everyone has to communicate on a project.” Each participant can then enter Highgate’s server and upload project files for everyone to access. Highgate can control who sees which information, he added.

“We’re also able to establish budgets from the outset” and periodically check “how we’re tracking against the budget,” he said. And the software keeps track of contracts and payments. “There’s less opportunity for spreadsheet errors” and “people are locked into the numbers that are within the database, he said.

Another benefit of Prolog is its record keeping functions, Jessett said. The software can capture emails and organise them into categories, Jessett said. The company can then can generate reports for particular issues and show all the related correspondence, he said.

Such a capability can be helpful in legal disputes, Jessett said. “I’ve been involved in a couple of those matters, and it’s been really helpful to just be able to punch up a quick report showing how requests for information were handled within the system. That’s been very useful to trump any argument that was being put forward by the other side.”

The Prolog software is scalable and Highgate may look at using it in the cloud, Jessett said. Highgate is currently reviewing how to link files stored in Prolog to Microsoft SharePoint, he said. Linking to SharePoint would give Highgate “one place where all files are held so that we can access those files” through either SharePoint or Prolog, he said. Jessett noted that it appears that software developer Meridian may moving in that direction with Prolog on its own.

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