Dark Mode Image by Pabitra Kaity from PixabayKeyedIn has announced version 7.5 of KeyedIN Enterprise, its PPM solution. At the heart of this update is a refreshed UI that offers a light and dark mode interface. Several updates improve portfolio management, Agile project management and more. The press release noted that KeyedIn Enterprise is the only solution on the market that simultaneously offers top-down, bottom-up and SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) methodologies.

Lauri Klaus, CEO of KeyedIn Solutions, commented: “As PMOs of enterprise organizations across industries, including financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, technology, and automotive services, continue to return to pre-pandemic levels of operations, they’re now facing the challenges of economic uncertainty.

“This latest version of KeyedIn Enterprise is the PPM solution businesses need right now. Whether it’s fifty or thousands of resources that need to be managed, working fifty or thousands of projects, version 7.5 represents the KeyedIn team’s best thinking in making the solution more effective, while delighting current customers with practical and user-friendly enhancements.”

Enterprise Times spoke to Matt Muldoon about the release and questioned him about the three methodologies statement. He replied:

Matt Muldoon, Chief Product Officer for KeyedIn or KeyedIn (Image credit Linkedin)
Matt Muldoon, Chief Product Officer for KeyedIn

“It was a couple of years ago. The idea there was I could act in a bottom-up mode and do my planning through a Task Plan if I wanted to. I could then have that auto-generate a forecast based on the resourcing required in the Task Plan. I could have the Task Plan generate the supply requests.

“The supply requests then get allocated, and the task manager can go in and allocate the resources to those particular tasks. Or, at any point in that circle, I can start that process with a forecast and generate supplier requests. I can put in supplier requests, build my project from my supply, and then build a test plan. Where does your business want to work from?”

Muldoon then explained that they already have customers using different approaches within their organisations, from Agile to Waterfall and everything in between.

What is the focus on UI all about

With this release, Keyedn Enterprise has a consistent modernized use interface that has improved styling with a cleaner minimalist interface. The project navigator is simpler, with an improved hierarchy improving the experience and enabling users to access projects quickly within the portfolio hierarchy. The new dark theme was created due to the theory that it reduces eye strain for some people.

For web application users, there is also a new popup that notifies users about service notifications from KeyedIn. Administrators can also leverage this function to inform users companywide about issues. It will be interesting to see how some take advantage of this new feature.

Enterprise Times asked Muldoon what prompted the big focus on UI in this release.

“We are going through an update of the technology at the moment. The newer screens are all done in Angular. We replumbed a new API across the system. We had some older screens that just looked anachronistic and updated the styling on all of those, we also made it a cleaner, fresher-looking interface.

“Some of it is trends that people want to look for. We also did it to set themes like dark mode, white mode and that type of stuff. We’re looking at going through to high visibility and a couple of others in consequent releases. We’ve built the platform to do that now.”

Will users be able to create their own themes?

“At the moment, we’re controlling it ourselves. We’re trying to see what we can do to make it more configurable. You can already set all the colours inside the mode. If you want green hyperlinks, your colours around the edges, and your logo, that’s all there anyway. If you want to go further and change things like the fonts on the screen, we haven’t exposed that.”

Resource Management improvements

There are several improvements to Resource Management. The new release adds a location hierarchy for resource matching. The system also removes future allocations when a resource is de-activated. This automation means that when consultants leave, future projects are underresourced automatically, highlighting the need for action.

Enterprise Times asked Muldoon to explain the location hierarchy in more detail. He replied:

“We’re allowing people to filter their resources by location. People want it to be able to roll up into larger groups of locations. So, Manchester is in Cheshire, Cheshire is in the Northwest, the Northwest is in the UK, and the UK is in Europe; people were looking for that.”

“One of our customers is a large UK software company that has offices all over the UK. I used to work there. Whether I was in the Northwest region, the Manchester region, or the London region, then they have country regions. They’ve got the US, the UK, Western Europe, and ANZ, and they wanted to look at their capacity by those higher groupings. As with projects, you can build hierarchies of your locations. You can also do the same thing with your resources.”

The hierarchy is also user definable, so they can be by time zones rather than country or region. This is important for international businesses increasingly using contractors from across countries, providing the skills match.

Other features in 7.5

There are several other features of note in this release. They include enhancements to the Kanban boards. KeyedIn has added a powerful task tagging feature enabling simply management and collaboration within Agile projects using the boards. Users can also configure the multiple task board columns for each department. It allows teams to have a view that makes sense to their individual requirements.

Another feature that Muldoon likes is the new multi-select project custom fields. Muldoon added: “It’s been asked for a lot. If I build a custom field, you want somebody to be able to put in 10 responses. Now they can just literally drag the references in, and they get stored in a string, but the system then knows to break them up and to use them. It’s a very small feature, but with huge customer satisfaction.”

Another improvement that caught our attention was the ability to add a protected flag to projects to stop accidental deletion.

The response

The release was rolled out in July. What was the user response?

“The users love the interface and the other additions like the task Kanban board. We’ve given them a lot more flexibility there. There’s a lot more information that can be revealed. Again, this was all about things that customers had asked for. Things that we felt needed to go into the product, both from a visual and attractiveness point of view, to help sell and also to drive customer engagement and enablement.

“We are in the process of developing a very major functional area. Part of what we’re doing here is laying the foundation for how that area will be presented visually. Everything is much more deeply hyperlinked and tied together so that you can do a lot of your work from one screen just by reaching out to the others as part of that task.”

Up next – Forecasting

That new major area is forecasting due out in the 8.0 release. Muldoon explained further, saying:

“Forecasting has always been a part of our system. It’s in an older tech. We’re rewriting it into the latest API-based tech; we’ve rewritten the underlying APIs already. We’re doing the work on the front end, but we’re also making it much more granular. Looking at our forecasting now, we tend to build our forecasts from a resource point of view.  

“Now we’re breaking that down into a much deeper grain. So people can have CAPEX and OPEX on the same task. They might break the task out over phases of the project and have the same role assigned, but you can have different resources, or you budget it separately because you’re booking your cost by the phases or some other custom field that you want to decide how you want to break it up.

“Now, to do that, that means that we have unique identifiers for each row, and they get tied very deeply to how we allocate and supply our resources. In the past, it’s been an association. I assigned a resource, they got allocated to that part of the project, and the system then tied them together from the forecast point of view.

“Now, if they want that, it’s going to be a lot more tightly coupled, or there’s a mechanism to allocate it going forward. This is where a lot of our customers’ finance teams are getting involved. They really want to understand the costs at the CAPEX and OPEX, or at timing phases, etc. So they know how to reflect that stuff in their financials.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

While this is a point release, it is clear that KeyedIn has both listened to customers’ requests and is building up the foundation for its next major release. The new forecasting features in 8.0 sounds interesting. With forecasting increasingly important across professional services, it will be a timely improvement, though Muldoon did not share the likely release date for 8.0

The full range of feature improvements is available in the release information. The other question is which release is next, 7.6 or 8.0.

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