Asta shows multiple tasks on one row and can split a task into two, based on its attributes.

Vendors of offshore and homegrown construction scheduling and coordination software are popping up in North America, trying to snag market share from Oracle Primavera's P6 software. The insurgents claim that factors such as cloud computing and contractor dissatisfaction have created an opportunity.

One newcomer is Asta Powerproject from U.K.-based Asta Development. The software is positioned as a relatively inexpensive, user-friendly tool that caters solely to construction.

Fred Plotnick, a construction industry consultant and the operator of the Construction CPM Conference, affirms the opening is real. "Primavera doesn't have time to chase users who want one, two or a dozen licenses," he says.

But Oracle doesn't see Asta as a big threat. "The difference is, we're an enterprise product—that's a desktop product," says Richard Faris, one of the founders of Primavera and now senior vice president of Oracle's Primavera Global Business Unit.

Another rising challenger is RevelPoint, Walnut Creek, Calif. It plans to bring a cloud-based scheduler to market in November after more than a year of trials with the California Dept. of Transportation and contractors. Mychal Brosamer, RevelPoint president, says his strategy is to go after contractors who feel Oracle has left them behind. "When Oracle bought Primavera, [Oracle] wanted to bring project management solutions to Fortune 500 companies," says Brosamer. He claims Primavera's post-purchase development focuses more on big business. "The new features and functions seem geared toward a different environment," he says.

Brosamer says RevelPoint's approach is to get the schedule into the cloud and exchange data with mobile devices. He claims the ability to access and update schedules "from any device with any browser" is a significant advance. "It hasn't been done before," he claims.

Catalyst USA, Indianapolis, a scheduling and support company and the largest U.S. reseller and trainer for Primavera, is now the U.S. distributor and support for Asta. CEO Stephen Sudler says Asta is going after Primavera on price, as well: A seat of Asta's Powerproject, at $1,449, undercuts a seat of Primavera's top offering by $1,000.

Sudler also says Asta offers a popular licensing option, called a concurrent license, that Primavera has dropped. "[Asta] still offers concurrent licenses that can be shared among workers, as long as they are not logged in at the same time, for $1,995," says Sudler.

"We believe that Asta is a better fit for construction companies than P6," adds Sudler. "P6 is better for a lot of other businesses, but it does not fit the construction industry anymore."

Changing the Game