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LeanIX, an SAP Company

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Company Founded

2012

Location

North America

Challenges

Work has become more complex in all aspects. LeanIX needed to scale both processes and approach to product management to ensure it could meet the needs of stakeholders in the growing company.

The sentence, ‘Thanks for the feedback, I’ll track it in Productboard,’ is accepted with enthusiasm and relief.
Marlene Jung

Marlene Jung

HEAD OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

LeanIX, an SAP company, is a global SaaS company focused on enterprise architecture management. The company enables customers to optimize IT investment and drive business transformation by providing granular insight into their IT landscape. As the company scaled, the product team sought a solution to help them improve product communications at all levels. The product team turned to Productboard to standardize feedback collection and information sharing, creating cohesion and delivering a better customer experience. 

Heading to a new city or neighborhood to do some exploring? You’ll likely turn to Google Maps to get the lay of the land and see how to navigate from point A to point B. LeanIX fulfills a similar role with IT, helping customers visualize, design, and optimize their IT landscape. 

Founded in 2012 in Bonn, Germany, LeanIX steadily expanded its global footprint to over 1,100 customers before being acquired by SAP in 2023. As the company grew, so did its product offering. Its core enterprise architecture management (EAM) product has continually evolved to include a wide range of capabilities and features, naturally adding complexity to development and decision-making processes. 

In response to this rapid growth, the product organization wanted to level up its approach to communication to ensure the best possible experience for customers and internal stakeholders. “Work has become more complex in all aspects,” says Product Success Manager Hannah Esser. “We needed to scale our processes and our approach to product management to ensure we could meet the needs of stakeholders in the growing company.”


Challenges: Scattered Data and Lack of Transparency Lead to Misalignment

Hannah partnered with Head of Product Management Marlene Jung to assess the state of product at LeanIX. The biggest issue they identified? “We were missing a single source of truth for our product development and product decisions,” says Marlene. 

The lack of centralization made consistent communication with customers and other departments challenging. From Marlene’s perspective, it wasn’t just that the product team was trying to build the plane while flying it, as the saying goes, but, “It was like everyone was in their own plane flying their own course.” 

It was like everyone was in their own plane flying their own course.

Marlene Jung

Marlene Jung

HEAD OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

Their pain points included:

  • No single source of truth for data: Important information like release dates for new features was shared on Confluence, Jira, and Slack, but not consistently synchronized or updated in each channel. This led to inefficiencies as stakeholders hunted for accurate information.
  • The feedback black box: Every product manager had a different way of dealing with feedback, which made it nearly impossible to triage and track. While tickets in Zendesk were being processed, Marlene’s analysis found that the team did not always close the loop with customers to let them know the feature had been released. 
  • Ineffective communication between departments: Without established communication channels or tools, the product teams could sense growing frustration from their cross-functional partners such as members of the sales and marketing teams who weren’t receiving responses to their questions about releases or updates in a timely fashion.

For everyone’s sake, it was clear that it was time to make a change.


Solution: A Single Source of Truth Gets Everyone on the Same Page (and Plane) 

Hannah and Marlene wanted to transition from the fractured approach to product to get everyone back on the same page (and into the same metaphorical plane). A few of the top priorities they’d identified included:

  • Creating a central, single source of truth
  • Establishing a single shared working space tailored to the needs of different stakeholders
  • Building cross-team trust through established communication channels

“We chose Productboard because we needed a single source of truth for everyone in the company independent of time and place. We also need to be certain that information was up to date whenever someone checked it,” says Hannah. The team wanted to mitigate disruptions and delays for global colleagues when waiting for answers from someone in a different time zone. 

We chose Productboard because we needed a single source of truth for everyone in the company independent of time and place. We also need to be certain that information was up to date whenever someone checked it.

Hannah Esser

Hannah Esser

PRODUCT SUCCESS MANAGER, LEANIX

Not only would Productboard allow better asynchronous communication, but it could gather information from disparate sources. Hannah explains, “We created Productboard as the one place where we collect all the information from all the places where our colleagues are working, so we set it up with Salesforce, Slack, Zendesk, and email.” Productboard supports two-way communication, providing a central hub of communication into the product team while also allowing the product team to communicate out through the Jira integration and customer Portal. 

Hannah says they were intentional about identifying who their stakeholders were and what information they’d need to complete their day-to-day work. “We created tailored workspaces for them where they can find that and nothing else so their work lives don’t get more cluttered,” she explains.


Results: Clear and Meaningful Communication, Better Cross-Functional Collaboration, and Enhanced Trust in the Product Team 

With Productboard in place, communication and collaboration are stronger than ever. “We tried to reduce redundant communication and communicate where it matters,” says Hannah. Now instead of asking questions in private Slack channels, colleagues know to check Productboard first and ask follow-up questions there so everyone can stay in the loop. They’ve achieved several significant milestones, including:

  • Broad adoption: In addition to widespread adoption among product makers, contributors from other departments including product marketing, engineering, and go-to-market teams are already using the tool at nearly the same pace. One product marketer says, “Productboard is a one-stop place for me to understand a feature was made in the first place and what needs to be communicated to customers.” A member of the engineering team says, “Additionally to the value provided to the customers, Productboard helps me understand how the features are communicated externally and which steps need to be taken.” Go-to-market teams rely on Productboard to help prepare for calls with clients and now feel more confident that their feedback is taken into account. 
  • More equitable and transparent prioritization: The previous process for prioritization was a constant pain point, especially for sales and CS teams. Now each team gets ten points to distribute to their highest-priority items to make sure they’re covered in the next quarterly roadmap workshop.
  • Time saving and visibility for cross-functional stakeholders: With the guidance of product managers, engineers can now use Productboard for long-term engineering planning, establishing priorities of epics, how many resources will be required, to keep their planning aligned with products roadmaps. “We essentially used this tool to plan and prioritize six months of work in the space of five hours,” said one member of the engineering team. And it’s not just the engineering team who’s experienced this benefit — the quarterly roadmap workshop that involves UX, engineering, and product was done in half the time. “It was an absolute win,” says Hannah. Plus, anyone looking for information no longer needs to depend on siloed, one-off pings to seek clarity. All information can be directly linked to the feature so everyone can stay informed of relevant updates.

  • Streamlined systems for collecting feedback: Customer-facing teams no longer worry that their feedback is going into a black box. The average time for processing an Insight is now 7.7 days. The product team also added a Calendly link to the customer-facing Portal so customers can schedule discovery interviews and share their feedback directly.

Now coworkers across LeanIX have greater trust in the product team’s processes — and the power of Productboard. “The sentence, ‘Thanks for the feedback, I’ll track it in Productboard,’ is accepted with enthusiasm and relief,” says Marlene. 

But perhaps the greatest accomplishment so far is the sense of cohesion and unification throughout the company — they’re finally strapped in and ready for takeoff. “We never wanted to introduce Productboard as a product management tool,” says Hannah. “We wanted to introduce Productboard to get LeanIX back together on the same plane.” 

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