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How to get things done

Muggie Van Staden, Obsidian Systems

What tools are enterprises using for project management? And what are the channel opportunities?

“Email is dead. If you have tasks in email, will they get done? No.”

This, according to Karl Fischer, a senior technical consultant at Johannesburg open source services company Obsidian Systems, is why organisations are increasingly using the Atlassian toolset.

Atlassian is a Sydney-based company which makes enterprise collaboration software. It posted revenue of $457-million in 2016, and acquired project management service Trello earlier this year for $425-million. Other products in its toolset include the project and issue tracking software Jira, Confluence for document collaboration, and HipChat for screensharing and team chats.

At the moment, Obsidian is one of three Atlassian partners in South Africa. It has a gold partner status, while the others have been rated as silver. Obsidian held an awareness event in Johannesburg this week, which was attended by mainly financial services institutions.

There is however a recertification process underway, Obsidian managing director Van Staden told the Margin.

“We need four certified technical people and four certified sales people to stay on gold, and for platinum it’s eight.”

Partners install the software and then provide training at a company or enterprise.

“We’ll understand their business processes and consult on how to use the toolset to achieve their business goals,” he says.

The product is priced on a per-user model in the cloud and when it’s installed on a company’s server. Enterprises would sign an enterprise level agreement and pay a set fee for the full tool set of Atlassian technologies.

This doesn’t lock out smaller players however, and most of the Atlassian starter packs can be bought for $10, certainly in the reach of any SME.

Something for everyone

Van Staden says Atlassian also donates all the money from the $10 sales to charity, which adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

“It really caters for everyone. If you’re an academic, you get academic pricing. If you’re an NGO, you get all of their stuff for free. They really try to help organisations achieve their potential.”

“With Atlassian, it’s crazy to think that it doesn’t have salespeople. Its whole strategy is that they want to build software that is so good that people want to use it. And that’s how their whole company has been built.”

Obsidian’s Fischer says one reason enterprises were choosing Atlassian over other programs such as Slack, was because the tools could be installed on its internal servers, and information would not leave the company’s network.

“People in organisations want to talk to one another instantly. They’re looking for agile and quick ways to do a turnaround of their projects.”

What are the opportunities for the channel?

Van Staden says there’s a huge consulting need around this technology, and there’s lots of scope for people to get involved and provide services, or retail, around the product set.

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