My Favorite LeanKit Feature: Subscribe to a Card

LK_blogPhoto_favoriteFeatureHana here, from Product Marketing at LeanKit. One of my main roles is as a liaison between our Product and Marketing teams, ensuring that feature releases are communicated effectively with you, our customers.

I was recently asked to name my favorite LeanKit feature, and to be honest with you, that’s a bit like picking a favorite child. I decided to begin with LeanKit’s Subscribe to a Card feature, because it’s had a tremendous impact on the way I manage cross-departmental work.

In previous companies where I had this role, it was a very stressful, chaotic position to be in — the Subscribe to a Card feature allows me to communicate proactively with all involved stakeholders, which saves me time, energy, and stress.

The Problem

Prior to LeanKit, I worked in both product and in marketing. In each of those roles, I had a heavy reliance on cross-functional collaboration with teams across the business.

When a new feature was close to customer release, I’d work closely with team members across the value stream (including Application Development, IT Operations, Sales, Support, and more) to ensure a smooth, successful release. Each of us had a role to play, and we’d hand off work as it was ready to move to the next step in the workflow, ultimately getting it ready to deliver to customers.

To stay ahead of the game, I spent a lot of time checking in on project status when we were close to release. I used every channel available to me: email, Slack, Kanban boards, and even the dreaded fly-by.

My perspective was that I could not miss a release, or we’d risk uninformed front-line employees, an increase in support tickets, and lost opportunities for revenue. At the same time, I knew that this was not the best way to collaborate:

  • I spent 30 minutes a day getting a handle on project status
  • Various channels led to rampant miscommunication
  • Wasted time and confusion slowed down our delivery process

I wasn’t sure how to change our system and still get the information I needed for a successful release.

The Solution

When I learned about the Subscribe To A Card feature, my working life changed. This feature allows me to receive an email notification when a card I care about is updated. Instead of having to run around collecting status updates, they come right to my inbox.

In real life, this is how it works: When I know that App Dev is close to finishing up work on a feature, I know this means that the rest of the value stream needs to be ready to do their part. QA needs to test, Ops needs to deploy, Support needs to educate, Sales needs to train, and I need to promote. I go to the Product team’s Kanban board, open the Kanban cards that are related to this feature, and click to check the Subscribe to Card Events by Email box in the bottom-right corner.

When someone attaches the latest mockup, or comments with an update to the release timeline, or the card moves to the QA lane, I know what’s going on and can act accordingly, whether that’s scheduling the Sales training, pushing a Knowledge Base article live, or creating a card to write a blog post about the release.

Why I Love the Subscribe to a Card Feature

  • Saves Time: I save about 30 minutes a day in eliminated status checks. That’s two and a half extra hours per week that I can spend doing work that provides value to my team and to our company.
  • Reduces Miscommunication: I’m up-to-date on the features that matter most to me in the same space that the Product team is working. I know what each lane status signifies and I have the latest mock-ups to share with stakeholders.
  • Helps Me Deliver Value Faster: Perhaps most importantly, I’m able to move faster and do my part to deliver value to our customers with little to no confusion or unnecessary wait states. This is the speed of Lean.

Why You Should Subscribe to Cards

Think about times you’ve relied on a status update from another team to inform your own work. Think about the chaos when multiple people are involved with a piece of work and no one is on the same page. Think about the times you’ve been frustrated because you simply wanted a proactive communication about work that impacts you.

I don’t think you have to be a Product Marketer to see the value of collaboration and alignment between teams. Try subscribing to a few cards on cross-departmental work, and see how your collaboration improves. You’ll be amazed at how much time you can save by building this proactive communication into your work life.