Why BrightWork for Project Management? Our Story

Eamonn McGuinness
By | Updated January 13, 2014 | 5 min read
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Last week a colleague shared a TED talk with me. I must say I do like TED talks. I find the quality of speakers and ideas very high. So my interest was immediately peaked! I now recommend the same TED Talk to you – Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action. 14 million people have watched it already. Need I say more! I will not spoil the surprise, but in summary, in this talk, Simon Sinek encourages us to start with “Why”. I must say I love the “Why” question – so I was bought in from the start of the talk.

The talk did get me thinking – “Why BrightWork for Project Management” – and “What is our Why”?



I guess a good place to start this story is to talk about how we got started. What triggered the very start of BrightWork? Why BrightWork for Project Management? What came first?! I spent almost 10 years in the Army in the 1980s, a few of those years in an IT department.

It was an exciting time and we had to get organized to achieve all we needed to deliver. That was our “why”. To get organized, we adopted a software development lifecycle with an associated project management approach. That was our “what”. The rot had set in – and I was started on this path I have not left since!

Then in the early 1990s, I was working at Digital with two colleagues who later helped start BrightWork. We were all working in the same IT group. It was a great place to work. A great place to learn your trade. Digital was full of engineers and professionals who wanted to do the right thing the right way. A very successful company. A very positive culture. A culture that was very strong on Quality and Process Improvement. A culture that asked “Why” a lot.


Customer Challenges

When at Digital in the early 1990s, I was an associate of a new consulting group that helped internal and external customers with software process and project management improvements. We were early adopters of ISO 9001 and really early adopters of the SEI’s Capability Maturity Model. There were some amazing people involved in these industry models and projects. Selfless people.

While at Digital we observed:

  1. Customers we met had a lack of shared knowledge and had no shared approach to project management. Many individuals did have good training and great instincts but no shared behaviors. Very frustrating.
  2. Many customer groups did try to implement process and project management improvement programs – but the improvements did not last longer than 12 to 18 months. People regressed quite quickly to the old behaviours. Very frustrating.
  3. Email and increasingly spreadsheets were the most common tools in use for project management. (Remember at this stage Microsoft Excel was still in second place to Lotus 1-2-3). These tools gave little or no real visibility – certainly no real-time visibility. As such customers who had no great visibility had no great control. That was the real issue. Very frustrating.


These 3 common problems were a source of great anguish for the customers we met. We figured that there had to be a better way! It has to be easier.


BrightWork Starts – but Why?

At the end of 1995 we started BrightWork. Our vision when starting is the same as it is today – “Project Management Success Made Easy”. People needed to able to manage projects with more success and we wanted to help them make it easy. Simple. This is and was our “Why”. We are now in our 19th year as a company (yes – lots of grey hair!) and we are still committed to the same “Why” – the same “vision”. Make Project Management Success Easy. Life is too short and Project Management should not be so hard to implement.


The BrightWork “What”

We were very inspired by Intuit QuickBooks in the early days. This software allowed customers to implement basic accounting practices with great ease – even in situations where they did not have formal accounting training. The software became the framework that helped them learn and implement good accounting practices.

In those days there was no Microsoft SharePoint, so we built on the standard collaborative platform of the day – Lotus Notes. We could see the potential in Lotus Notes to help groups collaboratively manage projects. We started exploring what would later be named SharePoint as 1998 ended.

We then switched allegiances to Microsoft SharePoint very early in the game. We released first on Microsoft Exchange webstore in 2000 (the fore-runner to SharePoint) and then we released on SharePoint in 2001. We have released BrightWork on every version of SharePoint since (including SharePoint 2003, SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010, and SharePoint 2013). We now have an on-premise version and a cloud / hosted version. (In fact, our first hosted / cloud version was released in 2001).

How do we deliver on our “Vision” – our “why”? What is our What?! So fast forward to today at BrightWork and we deliver to our customers:

  1. A pragmatic and gradual approach to successfully implementing project management that we summarise as “Start -> Evolve”, backed up by a framework of SharePoint Project Management templates.
  2. Training and Guidance on implementing Collaborative Project Management and the BrightWork SharePoint templates.
  3. A community of experts and companions for the journey.


This is our “what”.

I hope you get to enjoy the TED Talk – Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action – and I hope it gets you thinking about your “why” and your “what”!


Eamonn McGuinness
Eamonn McGuinness

Éamonn McGuinness is the CEO and founder of BrightWork. From 1995, Éamonn has been involved in the development of commercial software products on Lotus Notes, Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365, with the same basic product mission (process-driven and people inspired collaborative project management).

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