Latest Version of Sopheon PLM Software Helps Innovators Tackle “New Normal” of Economic and Market Turbulence

Accolade® 8.0 Sets New Standard for Agility in Managing Innovation Projects

MINNEAPOLIS & LONDON — (BUSINESS WIRE) — April 25, 2012 — Sopheon, the international provider of software and services for product lifecycle management (PLM), today introduced the latest version of its Accolade innovation management solution. Accolade version 8.0 offers a broad mix of features designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of project leaders, team leaders and cross-functional team members in managing innovation projects. New capabilities of the software include automatic generation and adjustment of project plans and advanced levels of support for team collaboration. Accolade 8.0 is expected to be of particular value to global companies striving to keep innovation project activity in step with changing market conditions and business priorities.

Economic volatility, increasingly rapid technological change and ongoing shifts in consumer demand continue to roil the marketplace. The only certainty is uncertainty, a condition that pundits have labeled the “new normal.” Meanwhile, for the eighty-two percent of manufacturers who continue to make innovation an investment priority,* one of the most critical challenges posed by this environment of continuous change is its impact on innovation project management. Traditional project management methodologies and tools depend upon establishing detailed requirements, scope and timetables at the beginning of each project and rigidly carrying them through to the end. In today’s world, such inflexible granularity can have devastating impact on business performance, “hand cuffing” an organization’s ability to adjust innovation projects in response to shifting conditions. The consequences: wasted resources, slow time-to-market and lost opportunity.

Features being introduced in Accolade version 8.0 redefine project management for innovation projects. The software accomplishes this by simplifying and automating project structures and by strengthening project-based collaboration. Accolade 8.0 offers advantages at every level of the innovation project-management role hierarchy, including:

For innovation project managers and team leaders―
Based on a simple set of inputs, Accolade 8.0 automatically identifies, schedules and associates all of the tasks associated with a project. An entire project can be set up in a minute or less—much quicker than even ad hoc Excel®-based approaches. As innovation team members are added, the software instantly associates them with the deliverables they will need to support. If changes in market, technology or business conditions require that adjustments be made to the project, they can be accomplished in a matter of seconds.

For innovation team members―
Accolade 8.0 introduces a new, more efficient and effective way for members of globally dispersed, cross-functional innovation teams to work together in creating shared project deliverables. The software’s project-based collaboration features replace the time-consuming, often disjointed swirl of e-mails, telephone calls and virtual meetings that typifies the creation of complex project documents such as product definitions, business cases and scorecards. Version 8.0 provides workflows that move a deliverable steadily down a prescribed path, ensuring that team members supply their input at the right time and in the proper sequence. Contributors can be confident that they are working on the most current version of the document.

Select features found in Accolade version 8.0 evolved from Sopheon’s work with existing customers. For instance, some of the advanced metrics being introduced in the new innovation management software reflect input from Electrolux and PepsiCo. Aspects of the project plan structures were based on Sopheon’s experience in supporting global innovation processes at Philips.

“One of Philips’ central business strategies is to drive profitable growth through meaningful innovation,” said Paul De Wit, director of Idea to Market processes for Philips’ Consumer Lifestyle business. “We adopted the Accolade system to optimize our Stage-Gate® new product development process and product portfolio management efforts. Recently we have worked with Sopheon to help shape and test the project management capabilities that are being introduced in this latest version of their software. We live in a complex, fast-changing world. Accolade’s new features have given us the ability to model projects in a very dynamic manner and alter them quickly in response to shifts in market opportunities and needs, without extra administrative burden. We believe that these capabilities will help shorten our Idea to Market processes.”

In addition to enhancements related to project portfolio management and collaboration, Accolade 8.0 introduces a variety of new features aimed at deepening the software’s acknowledged market leadership within its application category for ease-of-configuration and ease-of-use. The solution also offers integration with Microsoft’s SharePoint® software, a development that will allow users to promote and highlight innovation activity by making it visible across the corporate community. In a further development, Sopheon announced today that the first mobile applications of its software are now available, designed specifically for use with iPhones and iPads.

“The need to anticipate and react quickly to change has become an essential component of any successful innovation strategy,” said Bryan Seyfarth, director of product strategy for Sopheon. “Accolade 8.0 was literally co-created by some of the top innovators in industry. Each of these companies brought to the collaboration a deep understanding of what it takes to win in the ‘new normal,’ a business environment that requires speed, iterative action and a capacity to deal with constant change. The software will give our customers far more agility, enabling rapid mid-course corrections that side step sudden competitive threats and open the door to fast-moving opportunities. For companies struggling to keep pace with economic turbulence, market disruptions and unending uncertainty, this latest version of Accolade can be a game changer.”

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