Friday, December 02, 2005

Portellus: Come into my laboratory

In an effort to make it easier for lenders to purchase enterprise software, Portellus has opened a Customer Readiness Lab (CRL), designed to let prospects try it before they buy it, according to CEO John Le.

The company provides technology tools for the financial services industry, including a suite of mortgage origination, automated underwriting and workflow systems. The lab is a testing, evaluation and solution simulation facility that lets users examine the features and functionality of the company's software.

Prospects don't just to get play with the software. They also get access to the firm's solution architects, analysts and project managers so they can get a feel for what it would be like to actually do business with them.

This is incredibly smart. Dangerous, but smart. As you may recall, Ellie Mae and Calyx recently settled their lawsuit (according to published reports, which may or may not be totally accurate), which centered around Ellie Mae copying the look and feel of the Calyx software. This is hearsay. I heard Ellie Mae executives say they were doing this when I asked them if they were actually doing that.

There are a number of vendors currently working in the same space as Portellus. I've seen some very good software coming out of some of these shops. While I'm sure Portellus will take measures to ensure that only qualified prospects get access to the lab, these people often have friends in other companies. It could open Portellus up to having to add features to compete with other firms at the same time those vendors are getting first-hand feedback on the features Portellus is offering.

On the other hand, the move shows a lot of confidence in their human resources. Software features can be added or deleted relatively easily these days, but a good business analyst that understands both the customer's business and the software tool is much harder to come by. Portellus may be counting on its people to forge strong relationships with prospects while they are in the lab, translating that into sales afterward.

Want to play in the lab? You can contact the company at info@portellus.com.

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