Planview LeanKit Review

A highly collaborative tool where everybody can see things in one place

What is our primary use case?

We have a unique use case. Normally, people use LeanKit to track agile development in IT. However, we use the product to track our savings on capital projects.

How has it helped my organization?

Because we track our daily work there, things don't get lost or forgotten. It is a high level to-do list that your whole team can see in one place, watch how things are progressing, and give updates on. We are tracking our work, then we will use the tags in there, to say, "For these cards, we need to go talk to our community of practice on. Then, for these cards, we need to go talk to Planview on." So, we track all our work in one case. The filters are very handy, which makes it efficient. It is right there in front of your face.

We are going to use the solution again for another corporate-wide tracking process that we need to do, because it went well and we got good feedback. We need to track something else across the corporation, so we were like, "Hey, you know what? Why don't we just do it the same way? That worked really well."

What is most valuable?

  • The visual management - the ability to track where things are at any point. 
  • We can assign a task out to folks in an easy way. 
  • The connection with Power BI for reporting.

Using the tool seems to save time versus trying to do things in a regular manner. It is highly collaborative; everybody can see things in one place. It is a highly functional, but pretty simple tool. That is hard to find: A tool that has a lot of functions, but is also simple.

We use all the boards. We use them because we are trying to track savings. People identify an idea for how to save money, and that goes in one lane. As that idea progresses into actually being implemented into a project or production, then they move that card along the different lanes to show that it went from an idea to something that got implemented in production. That is how we move things along the card. We then hook up Power BI to be able to add up all of that savings across the company.

The Board Layout Editor is pretty flexible. In general, we are pretty happy with it. We are happy that you can upload from Excel, which to get us started, which was super convenient.

You can get the answers that you need about a given card’s status easily. You just know where everything is. If people are updating it and using it, you can see that at a glance because it is a visual tool.

What needs improvement?

The integration with the Enterprise One product is probably an area for improvement. It's not really broken. It's just that it is such a handy tool and a great way to visually manage things. There is a very limited hookup/integration between Enterprise One, which is the master Planview tool, and LeanKit. While they are looking at this on their roadmap, it definitely needs to happen. There is a lot of opportunity there. 

Planview is buying companies. So, they get these tools, then it just takes some time to figure out the best way to integrate them with each other. That is probably one of the largest opportunities.

I would also like it if they integrated it with being able to do a timeline, like a better schedule by using the tool.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using LeanKit for about nine months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any problems with stability. We are a global company, and I haven't heard anyone complain from Asia or Europe. It is probably the most you can ask for.

You definitely need a strong administrator. We have two or three people who know how to do it. They probably only spend 10 percent of their time on it, which is 25 percent of an FTE for the entire company. If the solution gets bigger, then it might take a lot more administration, e.g., if you needed to deactivate boards. The solution is pretty new, so we haven't done any of that archiving maintenance that we have to do yet.

It is maintained as part of a center of excellence that we have for projects, where we have a processor systems team. In other people's companies, this is close to a PMO.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I am a little nervous that it could get busy easily, e.g., the number of boards. So, you need to have a good administrator to make sure that your boards just don't get totally out of control, with thousands of them. Then, I don't know what performance would be like. So far, performance has been fine. However, I can see if the solution caught on for the whole company, and everybody wanted a LeanKit board to manage their department and their task, then it might get crazy in there.

We probably have 300 people using it. Since we are focused on savings in projects, our users are mostly project engineers and financial people. Globally, it is mostly focused on engineers, project managers, and controllers.

How are customer service and technical support?

We meet with our Planview representative once a week. If we have any questions, we just ask her, then she gets us the help that we need, which is just little stuff. We have a good account rep. I don't know if everybody's experience is just like ours because we have a super good account rep.

The support is very good. We have had no issues with them. If we have an issue, then they fix it. If we have a question, then they answer it. If we want an enhancement, we can generally figure out where that is:

  • Are they going to do it? 
  • Are they not going to do it? 
  • The general timing. 

The one thing I found interesting about Planview, as a company, is they don't commit to something they can't do, which can be very frustrating because that means you may never get a date. They won't tell you that this will be done by this date, unless they are sure it will be done by that date. It can be frustrating, because you are like, "Well, when?" However, they will not commit to a date unless they know it. There are pluses and minuses to that.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had a McKinsey tool. We switched to LeanKit because the McKinsey tool was too expensive and complex.

We have definitely had good feedback that people like this tool more than the last one.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was really easy and cheap. It was so inexpensive.

Our deployment took three months, soup to nuts. We implemented across the whole entire company in three months for our capital savings purpose, which included training. It was pretty easy to train too, because it is a simple tool.

What about the implementation team?

Planview has a good iterative development process. They bring in experts. They have them sit with you, take your requirements, and set up the boards to meet those requirements. One of the things that they do better than any other supplier that I have worked with, and I have worked with a ton, is their whole process of understanding their product and giving you a person who knows their product. They don't have a ton of outside partners. When you get someone, they really know their product and can easily transfer what you are trying to do into a product configuration in a very short period of time. I have been pretty impressed.

What they do is they make you have somebody sit with their person configuring. They teach you how to fish. They don't let you get away with just letting them do it. If you don't have somebody in your organization who will sit with them and learn how to do it at the same time, it doesn't really work.

What was our ROI?

If I had to guess, people are spending 25 percent less time tracking their savings than they were before. It is simpler and easier to use, so we can get done what we need to get done with a little less administration/bureaucracy.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

In general, Planview's cost structure is reasonable. You get quite a lot of functionality for the license cost that you get.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated only SharePoint a little bit. We sort of figured out in our heads that this solution was going to work. We also already owned it because we already had Planview Enterprise One. We knew that we had the licensing for LeanKit, so it became an easy decision because of their flex licensing model. Then, all of a sudden, your licensing is going to work for all these other tools.

What other advice do I have?

Listen to what the technical folks at Planview are telling you. They are probably right. Don't try to do anything that the tool isn't meant to do in some way. It is definitely a SaaS and nothing that can be customized. It can be configured, but it is what it is.

We use all three of Planview products. We use LeanKit, Projectplace and Enterprise One. I was actually prepared to talk about Enterprise One, which I think has more opportunities. LeanKit is so simple and easy; it's just a simple tool. Their Enterprise One tool is a much bigger, older tool that has some more opportunities for improvement.

From a reporting perspective, we almost exclusively use its connection to Power BI. We have not exercised the standard reports within the system. However, that could be because we have a little bit of a different use case.

Just make sure you have somebody who is dedicated to learning the tool and training people, because that lessens the frustration. 

The big lesson learnt is utilize the ability to hook up to Power BI. We could just report on it so easily. 

Design the boards and cards with your endgame in mind. You need to know what you want to get out of it, so you know how to configure it.

I am going to rate the solution as a nine (out of 10), because 10 is hard. 10 is perfect.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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