A Brisbane-based startup grapples with the tricky art of project management

There are numerous software companies operating in the project management space, and Brisbane-based startup Grapple is hoping to offer a service that complements all of them.


Grapple uses industry-standard best practice to guide users through the planning and ongoing management of their projects. It removes the need to manually update planning documents and spreadsheets, and allows users to upload those documents to project management software users of their choice.


It’s one of eight Australian startups that have been invited to showcase their products at The Summit Dublin later this year, including:


  • Pack and Jill: an e-commerce startup which designs, manufactures and sells premium travel goods direct to consumers.


  • Mobilyser: describes itself as an easy to use app that segments your work and personal calls to claim expenses or prepare your tax return.


  • Tactify: uses near field communication, beacon, QR and geo-fencing technology to create a dashboard allowing users to connect, design and build their own interactive mobile or print campaigns to communicate with consumers.



  • Trendii: an e-commerce interface that allows users to keep on top of trends and manipulate them to create and publish viral content.


  • TalkLife: a peer-to-peer social network that aims to be a safe space for people with mental health issues where they can ask advice, make friends, and find understanding people with experience in promoting mental health.


  • Blrt: a free app which helps improve the way people communicate with friends or colleagues when they can’t meet face to face by allowing them to express themselves verbally and visually.


Co-founders Aaron Hudson and Chris O’Halloran, who have over 35 years combined experience in project management, say they were driven to create Grapple out of frustration.


“There are a lot of project management tools, but we still have to use MS Word and Excel to do our project plans,” he says.


“When a project goes into live mode, or delivery mode, you have to frantically keep these Word documents or Excel sheets updated, on top of what you’re doing with your project management tool of choice.”


O’Halloran spoke to colleagues and found they had similar frustrations and decided to set out to build something that would take project planning to the crowd.


While researching, O’Halloran found that the majority of people running projects weren’t qualified project managers.


“What grapple does is take a non-professional project manager through the planning process, without them even knowing, and we create and automate it on the backend,” he says.


“We create standard-compliant documents, then through our API we can send that data to any project management document tool you want to use.”


According to the Project Management Institute’s 2014 Pulse of the Profession report, poor performance in project management results in organisations losing $109 million for every $1 billion invested in projects and programs.


“Everyone is focusing on the project management side of it, and most of the big players have missed where the real problem is. The problem isn’t project management, it’s poor project planning and documentation,” O’Halloran says.


“If you don’t have a plan, you don’t know what you’re doing.”


Hudson and O’Halloran have funded the development of Grapple themselves, but are now currently speaking to investors they linked up with following River City Labs River Pitch event earlier this year.


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