Customer Story: Penn Foster

IT Roadmaps Made Easier Than Ever

Key Facts:

  • Company: Penn Foster
  • Website: www.pennfoster.edu
  • Industry: Education
  • Use Case: IT Product Roadmap

Key Results:

  • Saved significant time
  • Improved communication across departments
  • Enhanced ability to spot capacity issues
  • Execs loved the visual roadmaps

In its 125-year history, Penn Foster has provided career-focused, affordable education through their 100+ high school, career school and college programs. Every year over 150,000 students enroll in programs to help prepare for careers in in-demand fields like Early Childhood Education, Pharmacy Tech, HVACR, Veterinary Tech, and Auto Repair. Their self-paced, online program combined allows students to receive a quality education that fits their lifestyle and budget.

ProductPlan makes creating Engineering roadmaps fast and easy, and gives us exactly what we need for any audience — whether that includes details from our integration with JIRA or just a great visual view for presentations.
Paula Robert-Hunt
Paula Robert-Hunt, VP of Engineering
ProductPlan customer

Challenge:

The Engineering team used two tools that caused too much overhead — Excel®, to create and update the roadmap data, and Visio®, to recreate it visually for the executives.

ProductPlan customer

Solution:

ProductPlan solved this problem — and others — with an elegant, easy-to-use tool for roadmap creation, updates and visual presentation.

ProductPlan customer

Results:

The Engineering team saves serious time, the Execs like how plans are presented, and the company is able to more easily spot potential capacity planning issues.

Our Execs kept saying, ‘Wow! What a great way of looking at what we have planned for the next 12 months.

Challenge: Using Multiple Tools for Engineering Roadmaps Didn’t Scale

As VP of Engineering, Paula Robert-Hunt oversees Penn Foster’s many technology platforms — online enrollment, student portal, online community, core systems, and others. Trying to create and maintain roadmaps for so many interconnected projects was a challenge, particularly because Paula needed to use two separate Microsoft® Office® applications to produce roadmaps with varying levels of detail for different audiences.

“To manage these roadmaps, I was doing the work twice,” Paula explains. “I’d use Excel to build plans, schedule timelines, sort, categorize … then I’d recreate the data in Visio to present it to our Executives. It worked the other way, too: Any changes I made to the Visio-based view, I’d also have to update in Excel.”

The Hunt for an Elegant Engineering Roadmap Software Solution

The issue came to a head when senior management asked Paula’s team to develop and present a companywide, 12-month Engineering roadmap. “This was a massive undertaking,” Paula explains. “I realized I couldn’t use our Excel-to-Visio-to-Excel workaround: We needed a real product roadmap tool, one that did it all.”

On my first major multi-product roadmap with ProductPlan, our team saved weeks of time and effort!

ProductPlan Wins Immediate Buy-in From the Executive Team

A member of Paula’s team investigated product roadmap applications, and recommended ProductPlan. “I could see why: It worked beautifully,” says Paula. “We were piloting it within IT and I decided that even if everyone didn’t want to deploy this tool, I’d still use it for our projects.”

But ProductPlan received executive buy-in right away. “Our Execs loved it!” Paula says.

Paula and her team used ProductPlan to build a clean, detailed, multi-product, 12-month roadmap. The result was better than Paula could have hoped for: Her Executives were thrilled with the result; it’s easy to share across departments; and Paula’s team can update it more quickly and easily than with any other roadmap tool she’s used.

Saving Serious Time… and Several Other Unexpected Benefits

“The most obvious benefit of ProductPlan has been time-savings,” explains Paula. “It saves me days or even weeks of manual work when I’m building new roadmaps due to its seamless integration with JIRA.” But Paula and Penn Foster discovered ProductPlan provides other benefits — even more valuable than saving time.

“Because it’s so easy to share our ProductPlan roadmaps — I embed them right in our SharePoint® site — it’s improving our communication across departments,” she says. “And because ProductPlan gives us such a well-categorized view of all our initiatives, I’m able to spot potential capacity issues — like the fact that we’re working on many business as usual tasks right now, which is taking resources away from planned growth-oriented projects. That kind of visibility and intelligence is invaluable.”