On the Radar: Clarizen

In the latest release of its SaaS-based project management software, Clarizen has turned its attention to the collaborative process which gets the work done. 


San Mateo, California-based Clarizen is a provider of enterprise work collaboration and project management solutions.

What does it do?

While Clarizen has long-positioned its solution as a SaaS-based collaborative project management application, in the latest release of its product the company has fully embraced social collaboration, adding an interactive layer across the top of its existing capabilities, and extending its focus to support the unstructured collaboration which takes place in between the more structured aspects of project-based collaboration.

At the core of the Clarizen offering is a sophisticated project management platform which goes beyond simple task management activities to provide high-end features such as resource management and balancing, issue management, budget and expense management and time tracking, providing management reports and dashboards, while also offering team-based views which support and encourage transparency and openness in a project environment.

In the 6.0 release (which launched in August 2013), a new social module adds the ability to collaborate with colleagues, team members, customers and partners using Twitter and Facebook-style microblogging capabilities, enabling the creation of social groups which can be linked to one or more projects, customers or other objects within Clarizen. Like public social networking services, individuals can choose to follow others’ activities, receiving their updates – alongside updates in the groups and projects they are members of – in an aggregated activity stream on their home page. As well as posting updates, questions or comments just to their followers or to specific groups, users can post to projects, directly to specific individuals (@mentions), or even to department user groups, using the “hashtag” command acting as a shortcut. Files, work items and customers can also be linked to a post using a hashtag, and a task can be created that links explicitly with a specific post. Discussions can also take place around a document, and Clarizen also supports inline previewing of the document, as well as annotation of uploaded documents.

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Who is it for?

Clarizen targets its solutions at five key roles or business areas where project-based work is central to their day-to-day activities: project managers, IT teams, professional services, agile development, and marketing teams. While its typical market is organisations or departments with between 500 and 5,000 employees, the company’s enterprise business is growing rapidly, with some deployments of tens of thousands of licensed seats.

In providing a SaaS solution, Clarizen operates a subscription-based licensing model, with three packaged versions available:

  • Professional Edition – This includes all the core project management capabilities of the product, as well as the new social module, and is priced from $29.95 per user per month for a full licence.
  • Enterprise Edition – This adds greater support for customisation and integration, including API access, single sign-on and LDAP integration support, and costs from $44.95 per user per month.
  • Unlimited Edition – This edition is designed for larger enterprises requiring extensive customisation to support their business processes, and costs from $54.95 per user per month.

Clarizen also offers five different licence pricing levels for users – Email-access only (which is free of charge), Social, Time & expense, Team Member and Full licence. A 30-day free trial is also available.

Clarizen is available in ten languages: Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), English, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Why is it interesting?

Clarizen’s offering is a great example of the increasing convergence between the social collaboration and project management markets, and indeed the company has gone further than most in blurring the lines between these two areas. While many of its competitors have simply added individual social features to their project management applications – such as threaded comments against tasks or projects, or the use of activity streams to track activity – Clarizen’s approach recognises the significance of the unstructured collaborative process in the context of project-based work, and explicitly creates a link between the two by embedding a social collaboration platform in its project management application. It is the concept of social groups within Clarizen that makes it stand out; by associating projects (and tasks and other objects) with collaborative groups rather than simply enabling collaborative discussion in the context of a defined project, there is greater opportunity for openness and sharing of knowledge and expertise across the organisation.

How established is it?

Founded 2005 in Tel Aviv, Israel, Clarizen has more than 2,500 customers in 76 countries, and continues to expand at a rapid rate, adding more than 100 new customers every month. Customers include Buckinghamshire County Council, Cisco, Clarabridge, Deloitte, DHL, HP, Ingenia Group, Instruxion, Marketo, Mazda, and VMWare, with the company’s largest customers having tens of thousands of Clarizen seats deployed.

As a privately-held company Clarizen does not publish revenue figures, though it announced a year-on-year revenue increase of 70% in 2012, following 2011 growth of 300%. The company employs almost 120 staff, the majority of which are based in Tel Aviv. However, Clarizen is rapidly building out its US headquarters in California in order to better serve its largest market. The CEO recently relocated to the US, and the company appointed new US-based VPs in Sales and Marketing.

Clarizen has raised $48 million through five rounds of funding since 2008, the most recent raising $12 million in June 2012. Investors include Benchmark Capital, Carmel Ventures, DAG Ventures, Opus Capital Ventures and Vintage Investment Partners.

How open is it?

Clarizen has a well-established integration and partner model, providing an open API and an Apps Marketplace where customers can access Clarizen- and partner-built integrations and extensions. Apps include integration with products such as Microsoft Excel, test management application Testuff, Intacct accounting software, Atlassian’s JIRA project and issue tracking solution, Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook, MS Visual Studio Team Foundation Server and Intuit Quickbooks.

Clarizen’s Salesforce.com Sales Cloud app allows users to view the progress of projects and issues within Clarizen from within Salesforce.com, as well as create new projects. Projects can also be auto-triggered based on the status of an opportunity in Salesforce.com, and Clarizen events are included in the Salesforce Chatter activity stream.

Apps for Box and Google Docs integration allow users to link to documents stored in Box or Google Docs, or to create a new Google Docs document from within Clarizen.

Other integrations supported include SAP ERP and Microsoft SharePoint.

Who does it partner with?

As well as technology partners such as those participating in the Apps Marketplace, Clarizen is in the process of expanding its global channel and implementation partner network, predominantly in non-English speaking countries.

Current implementation and consulting partners include DNA2, Infotech, Ludan Software and Control Systems, P.M. Team Ltd, Pentos AG, Projxit and Stone Cobra.
Reseller partners include AMCG, Arcus Global, CloudPoint, EGGO Projects Oy, IP Techno Services, NSW, ReliaTrack, Ruach, IAAP Global and Singer Lewark Systems.

Are there areas for improvement?

Although the Clarizen social module adds a new dimension to the product and is relatively sophisticated for a newly released feature, there is still some room for improvement, both from a functional perspective, and in terms of the ease of use and navigation within the product. At present, the interface does not allow for a sufficiently smooth transition between the different components, and is dependent on the rather clunky slide-out navigation menu. We would like to see more visual integration between the different modules – for example the projects view and the groups view – to minimise the need to keep clicking from one to the other.

There is also some room for improvement in the filtering of the overall activity feed – Clarizen currently allows filtering by group, but there is no flexibility to allow the user to determine how to filter it, for example by project or by notification type.

While this latest release goes a long way towards supporting the collaborative needs of an organisation in the context of structured (or semi-structured), project-based work, it’s worth noting that it only meets a subset of the potential collaborative scenarios within an organisation, and as such we would expect to see more emphasis on integrating Clarizen with other types of collaborative solutions – in particular social collaboration platforms which support more people-centric, enterprise social networking scenarios.

What’s next?

Clarizen is considering a number of enhancements to build out the social collaboration capabilities further, such as inline polls, custom feeds (and the creation of dynamic feeds) and gamification.

Clarizen also plans to provide even more advanced reporting and dashboard views, as well as custom entities. The company also plans to expand upon the product’s document management capabilities, to allow people to collaborate throughout the document revision lifecycle.

Should I consider it?

If you are looking for an integrated, single solution that supports both the formal and structured aspects of managing project-based work, as well as the day-to-day operational aspects of collaborating with team members to get the work done, then you should certainly be considering Clarizen.

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