There is usually a long story behind a successful product. This applies for Merlin and my first visions about it in 2003.
Here is how the drama started.
Was Merlin a project manager? (part two)
….We were looking for alternatives. Someone in the company started to [ab]use MS Excel as a project management tool. In the beginning I found this to be a good idea, and followed willingly. Some weeks later we had scripted a great amount of data sheets with innumerable charts. It was fine for separate projects but made our overview on all running projects smaller day by day. When colleagues began again to do their job manually, bypassing the scripts and their automations, it became clear to me that we needed yet again another, better solution.
So I gave in and started some research. I wanted to follow a structured approach and finally find out what commercial project management software was available for Mac OS X as I was convinced about the benefits of this operating system. I witnessed how a virus managed to paralyze a worldwide operating company (the “ILOVEYOU” virus on the 4th May 2000, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loveletter). This should never happen to us. We were protected as long as we were working on Macs, so this should not change.
The result of the market research was very interesting. Only four programs providing some kind of project management tools were listed. We distinguished two possible candidates after testing for a while. Unfortunately we found some issues, and difficulties in their usage, so we addressed our software feature requests to their support and hoped for quick implementation with no success. I also wrote an email to each software development company and offered a partnership.
I was happy to invest money, but I knew that the second part of my offer was even more valuable: our know-how. I wanted to start a know-how transfer to create, in cooperation with a software developer, the “world’s best project management software”. We were not software developers back then. Surprising enough, both software developers refused our proposed partnership. I could not understand their reasons, but even if I could, this would not change anything.
Meanwhile the need for a real project management solution grew and grew. Due to the absence of a proper software tool, avoidable errors started to happen. The problem became existential. A quick financial check showed that investing into our own software product would probably be a cheaper solution, project management errors towards our customers could eventually become far more expensive.