Outsell Combines Innotas with Agile Solution JIRA for Holistic Portfolio and Strategic Alignment
Located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Outsell is a digital marketing SaaS company that transforms the way brands engage with consumers, and has been recognized by Inc. 500/5000 as one of the fastest growing companies. Outsell’s award-winning digital engagement SaaS platform offers clients the ability to consistently engage with consumers across distributed sales networks from the national to local level.
Business Opportunity: Needed a better way to prioritize their backlog of requests and increase visibility into resource utilization with an easy way to report on project statuses
Like many growing companies, Outsell had a small IT department and had more enhancement and new feature requests than their development team had time to handle. And, without purchasing additional plug-ins, it was challenging and time-consuming to pull data out of JIRA. Outsell wanted to gain insight into what the development teams were working on, so had already instituted JIRA on-demand. But within months the PMO had a backlog that quickly became unmanageable.
- Projects were tracked via spreadsheet, making it difficult to prioritize
- Project approval was political: the squeakiest wheel got the grease
- Resources were focused primarily on large projects
- Limited visibility made it impossible to forecast, so IT was reduced to ‘reactive mode’
Initially, it worked to manage the project portfolio via spreadsheet, in that it gave the executive management team some visibility into the influx of demand. However, the organization soon outgrew this process, resulting in the formation of the Project Management Office (PMO) and the switch from spreadsheets to cloud portfolio management.
Solution: Powerful request management, dashboards, and analytics that can easily integrate with existing Agile tools
Although Outsell was already using JIRA to manage the product backlog and track developer work, they needed better reporting. The PMO could forecast demand and capacity by leveraging historical data, but it was very difficult to configure within JIRA. What they really needed was something that was easy to integrate with solutions they already had, and which were working. Innotas—with its’ ability to integrate with many different agile tools, and to ‘play nice’ with its existing applications (JIRA)—provided what Outsell was looking for.
- Integrated project and resource management functionality means the PMO can track multiple projects: across agile product development; business & marketing; production and support
- Robust, easy-to-use reports and dashboards provide transparency across the organization and hierarchy, so the PMO can more easily ensure alignment with business value and company goals
Results: Improved backlog prioritization means high-cost developers are focusing on the right things at the right time
Since using Innotas, Outsell’s PMO now knows where resources are spending time and how they are adding value to the product and the business. They use Innotas to manage the product backlog, which houses traditional project plans used to map out work breakdown structures so they can identify key milestones and non-development tasks. Innotas also helps them identify features that require specific development efforts, capturing those as tasks within the project plan. Ultimately, this means the PMO can deliver much better demand management and product feature prioritization.
- Management can now see what individual resources are spending their time on, which means that in agile projects they’re able to increase their velocity, sprint over sprint
- Between Innotas & JIRA, the PMO has clear visibility of development resource utilization: not just across agile projects, but in some cases in support of non-agile projects such as marketing and production
- Better ability to forecast operational requirements vis-à-vis historical data
- Improved visibility to process, resource and project bottlenecks, which reduces the number of hours spent on operational or non growth-based activities
Now that Innotas is fully integrated, the PMO looks forward to maximizing the benefits of cloud portfolio management so that management can directly link results back to Outsell’s strategy and business goals.
“Since using Innotas, we’ve improved the focus for our development teams, ensuring resources are focused on the right things at the right time, and we’re actually delivering features that add value to the business and to the product, either at the end of the 3-week sprint or at the end of the quarter.”