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by Jacob Geiger

After years in project management jobs, Suzanne Davenport became frustrated with the existing tools for managing projects, especially creative ones.

Last year she created Smart Projex, a web-based project-management system designed specifically for managing projects that have many activities occurring at the same time or that are subject to rapid change.

Davenport said she thought existing management systems — and there are many available — were generally designed for linear tasks.

Nine months after landing in the i.e.* startup competition finals, the system is in beta testing with several organizations. Keep Virginia Beautiful is organizing its 60th anniversary gala using Smart Projex.

“Finding test organizations has proved challenging, because an entire team of folks has to commit to the entire testing process, and teams need to be just starting a new project,” Davenport said.

One organization that used the new system discovered early on that its project team had diverging goals for a new effort.

“By discovering this early, the organization saved money on misdirected efforts and has made some organizational changes that should improve future project outcomes,” she said.

Davenport said she’s learned from testers that it’s difficult for project leaders to resist the urge to make a list of tasks and immediately start knocking them off. Selling a change in behavior has been tough and is slowing testing, she said.

Smart Projex is currently looking for more test organizations in the legal, non-profit, marketing and advertising sectors, along with some other business areas. Davenport said she’s also talking with users about upcoming upgrades to the site, including one that would customize set-up language for specific companies or types of users, such as legal teams or non-profits.

Davenport said she’s learned a lot about the ups and downs of running a business.

“Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted or thin-skinned soul,” she said. “It is a roller coaster ride — scary, thrilling, risky and fun.”

Jacob Geiger director of Work It, Richmond. He can be reached at

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