Klarna simplifies buying by providing a streamlined solution for all payment types, so that businesses can give their customers the simplest buying experience. They believe that the easier it is for people to shop, the more you sell.  But Klarna’s planning process wasn’t as simple as its buying process. They needed a real-time planning solution to save them from the overload of manual processes and help them resolve obstacles that were making planning painful.

A painful beginning

Ray Yee has been both a project manager and product manager for the Credit Risk and Fraud Detection Department at Klarna, which spans over 5 products and more than 100 people across multiple locations. He said “before using Portfolio for JIRA, planning for the department was quite challenging” as the project managers in the department were not well-versed in agile methods so they were quite waterfall in their approach to planning – using Smartsheet, Microsoft Excel, and Google Docs in-conjunction with JIRA. Klarna was looking for a way to manage cross-team and cross-product development, realistically forecast delivery dates, create what-if scenario plans, and show stakeholders priority and status.

Ray (with help from Riada, one of Scandinavia’s leading Atlassian Experts) introduced Portfolio for JIRA into the team’s planning mix over a year ago and now sees the teams around him incorporating Portfolio for JIRA into their planning process. Across Klarna, planning has become much more structured and traceable. Rather than planning and reporting across multiple tools that require constant manual updates, the team now uses JIRA Software with Portfolio for JIRA to easily combine their long-term planning with their agile practices.

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Klarna’s planning process with Portfolio for JIRA

How does the team use Portfolio for JIRA? Ray said that it depends on the situation – but generally, if it’s a new project, Ray starts from scratch in Portfolio for JIRA by outlining initiatives to develop a framework for the product, then breaking the initiatives down into epics and stories. Once the team is happy with the framework, Ray pushes the epics and stories into JIRA Software so the development manager can allocate the work and help the team create estimates (the Klarna team estimates in hours). Once the estimates are in, Ray generates a realistic forecast for the project to share with the team.

From there, it’s easy to do realistic capacity planning as Portfolio for JIRA takes the team’s historical data and the estimates of the new stories so there’s no need to fluff around with numbers (no more pen and paper!). If the project already lives in JIRA Software stories and epics (for example, if he has taken over another team’s project), Ray imports the data up into his Portfolio for JIRA plan, groups the work into initiatives and then fills in any gaps if anything was forgotten or not thought of.

Providing transparency and context

For the Credit Risk and Fraud Detection Department at Klarna, the biggest benefit with using Portfolio for JIRA is being able to keep business stakeholders and development teams in the loop.Before Portfolio for JIRA, business stakeholders were always asking “What’s the plan? When are we going to finish? Are we going to be on time? Which team is owning it?”, but now with Portfolio for JIRA, the answers are already in the plan and  business and technical stakeholders have access to it so they have complete context whenever they need it.

“The team doesn’t need to ask me ‘what’s the plan?’ – they can see it for themselves.”

Monthly steering group meetings that used to require tedious manual updates across multiple tools have benefitted from the switch to Portfolio for JIRA. “It was much more effective to move away from manual updates and spending time trying to create progress and status updates. Now, I distribute a link to the plan before the meeting”. Portfolio for JIRA creates a nice structure for the main initiatives (both new features and improvements) and provides a place where Ray and other Product Managers can show stakeholders what the priorities are and what the latest status is.

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Realistic roadmaps

The team’s favorite feature in Portfolio for JIRA is the graphical schedule (roadmap). Having a clear, visual picture of when the team can deliver and being able to break the schedule down into different views (Ray likes the team view) has proven helpful. Ray said that now when he get’s asked “why can’t it be done sooner”, he whips out the roadmap and says “well, based on historical data, this is when we can realistically deliver”. If they want to see other options, he demonstrates some what-if scenario’s such as removing scope and adding more people, with the roadmap adjusting based on the changes.

This year Ray launched his credit and fraud products in several geographies with the actual launch dates very close to the original forecasted dates in his Portfolio plan. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Happy planning! 🙂

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