Detailed Review of Kantata SX Salesforce App

Project manager using Kantata project management app

Kantata SX is reviewed against 200+ project management software requirements on a downloadable spreadsheet. Kantata SX is scored overall for each of the ten project management processes. This post provides a summary of the key strengths and weaknesses for each of the processes.

Kantata Summary Findings

The Kantata SX app is a project management tool available on the Salesforce AppExchange. Kantata OX is a separate cloud solution built outside of Salesforce, but which integrates with some Salesforce objects. I was unable to clearly evaluate SX separately from OX, so this is more of an overall evaluation of both. Therefore, you need to have detailed conversations with Kantata to determine which is best suited for your needs. See more details in the methodology section.

Kantata has a huge amount of professional services automation (PSA) tool functionality, and therefore should be included in anyone’s assessment of Salesforce PSA tools. It has excellent resource and cost management functionality, which are the main focus of PSA tools. However, it also has a very good scheduling tool which is rare in PSA tools.

Its broad functionality also makes it an option for an internal project management office (PMO) tool. However, I believe most PMO shoppers will find lots of the functionality overkill for a PMO tool, while there are some large change management gaps. The relatively high cost would also make it prohibitive for most PMO applications.

Kantata
Total Score61%
Communications Management9%
Cost Management78%
Integration Management61%
Procurement Management50%
Quality Management17%
Resource Management93%
Risk Management67%
Schedule Management67%
Scope Management13%
Stakeholder Management17%

Download Kantata SX Evaluation Spreadsheet

Click here to add the Kantata SX Excel spreadsheet to your basket and continue reading. Visit the basket page to complete the download.

Kantata Pricing

The starting price for Kantata SX is $45/user/month. This is labeled as the ‘lowest starting price’ on the Salesforce AppExchange. Kantata doesn’t publish standard pricing plans for either SX or OX on their website. A sales rep must prepare pricing in a meeting, which leads me to believe most people are paying more than $45/user/month.

Kantata Scoring Methodology

WARNING: Kantata doesn’t provide a free trial or test drive that can be loaded from the Salesforce AppExchange. The company didn’t reply when I requested a free trial for purposes of this review, thus, I wasn’t able to put my hands on the software to personally test all the requirements. Therefore, this review is based on reviews of online demos and documentation.

WARNING: The Kantata website doesn’t differentiate between Kantata SX and OX functionality. Therefore, I wasn’t able to determine specifically which functionality is available on the SX Salesforce-native version. I also assumed that the OX version has the same configuration flexibility as a native Salesforce solution, but this may be a poor assumption.

WARNING: Kantata was created in 2022 with the merging of a Mavenlink (non-native Salesforce solution) and Kimble (native Salesforce solution). Since the merge occurred less than two years from this review, I’m assuming the app’s functionality has not be fully merged at this point and could vary significantly. I suggest you discuss the following with Kantata when evaluating their software:

  • Share the attached scoring spreadsheet, and ask them to score SX and OX separately.
  • Request separate demos of SX and OX, and access to free trials if possible.
  • Ask which of the two apps are they going to support as part of their long term strategy. I assume they would be planning to migrate to one or the other over the long term.

I structured the analysis around the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)© project management process. This is outlined in the PM Book of Knowledge (PMBOK)©. First, I listed the project management processes and then the activities within each process. Finally, I developed a list of requirements related to each of the activities. The list of requirements is based upon my thirty years of project management experience and experience evaluating project management tools for clients. When I come across novel functionality in the software I’m evaluating I add it to the requirements list. Of course, I’m sure I missed some requirements and welcome any suggestions.

I gave all processes and requirements equal weights, but you can adjust the scoring weights in the Excel spreadsheet to suit your needs. Each requirement was rated as either:

  • Yes – As Is – Meaning, the requirement is met with out-of-the-box functionality. This rating is awarded four points.
  • Yes – With Configuration – Meaning the requirement can be met with minimal configuration or no-code updates. Since, Salesforce is highly configurable I used this rating for simple things like changing picklist values, adding a field to an existing data object, creating a report, etc. This rating is awarded two points.
  • No – Not Available or Requires Customization – Meaning the requirement cannot be met without significant investment of time or money. I assigned this rating if custom coding would be required, or a new custom data object, or a new custom flow. This rating is awarded zero points.

Finally, the scoring spreadsheet totals the ratings by process to show how the apps compare by process. Therefore, you can assess the apps based on which processes are the most important to you.

Here are some links to help you research the app:

Download Kantata SX Evaluation Spreadsheet

Click here to download the Kantata SX Excel spreadsheet.

Communications Management

Kantata has the basic functionality to communicate project status. However, it doesn’t have any change management-related functionality around scheduling and tracking communications or training.

Strength: Project Status Reporting

It has strong functionality related to reporting project financial status, such as, profitability. It also has a unique feature that generates a notification to management if the project status changes.

Weakness: Lacks Change Management

It obviously was not built with a focus on change management. There isn’t any functionality focused on identifying stakeholders and the training or communications they require.

Cost Management

Cost Management is one of the processes in which Kantata excels. It appears to be very focused on planning and measuring project profitability. This is ideal for the management of a professional services firm.

Strength: Invoicing

It has strong invoicing functionality. It supports multiple billing types, milestone-based invoicing and custom rate cards per account. It will even track invoices and customer payments.

Strength: Cost Metrics

It has numerous metrics to measure the project’s financial performance: utilization, earned value, profit margin and estimate at completion.

Strength: Expenses

It has the ability to forecast and track actual expenses in detail. It also has the ability to require management approval of expenses, which is lacking from some other PSA tools.

Weakness: Lacks Some Rate Types

I couldn’t find any ability to support day rates rather than hourly rates. Day rates have become popular in the consulting industry. It also didn’t appear to support overtime rates, but these are fairly rare in my experience.

Integration Management

Overall, Kantata has good integration management functionality with only a few gaps. It has very advanced project access controls. It also supports the creation and routing of change orders. The main weaknesses are a lack of detailed documentation of the scope, and a lack of documentation of benefits to support a full business case.

Strength: Change Orders

Users have the ability to create change orders and to route them for approval. Budget changes can also be routed to the client for approval. This is functionality lacking from many other tools.

Weakness: Lacks a Business Case

Since it is a PSA tool focused on supporting the services firm, it isn’t surprising that it doesn’t have any functionality to support estimating and documenting a business case. It has lots of cost management functionality, but no functionality to document benefits and an overall ROI. This isn’t a gap for a PSA tool, but anyone looking for an internal PMO solution might consider this a gap.

Weakness: Lacks Detailed Scope

It lacks the ability to list a detailed scope by: people, process and technology. Thus, it also lacks the ability to track changes by system or organization.

Procurement Management

Kantata has strong procurement management functionality, with the ability track vendor spending against purchase orders and the ability to forecast project cash flows.

Quality Management

This is one of Kantata’s weakest areas. I suspect this is because it is not focused on software development firms. It basically doesn’t have any functionality focused on testing processes or software as part of project.

Resource Management

Resource management is Kantata’s greatest strength with a whopping coverage score of 93%. In fact, the only gap I could find was the ability to track people’s use of time off against their accrued allotment. I view this is a minor gap, since this is usually handled in company’s HR or payroll system.

Strength: Everything

Sort the scoring spreadsheet by the ‘Resource Management’ process and you’ll see I couldn’t find any major gaps. You can create very detailed resource demand forecasts by skill and then assigned name or unnamed resources. There is even one piece of functionality I’ve never seen before: the resource manager can publish openings so people can express their interest in working on the project.

Strength: Project Access

It has very detailed and robust functionality for controlling project access. A project team member can be given read or edit access to various components of the project. Most importantly, the access can be specific to the project which is unique among project management apps. For example, you can give a person edit access to the financials on one project but block their access on another project.

It also has the ability to make projects confidential, so only team members have access. This is important for sensitive projects like mergers or staffing reductions. Making projects confidential is a feature lacking from many other tools.

Risk Management

Kantata has the basic required risk management functionality. The major gap, is that you can’t assign the risk or associated tasks to people.

Weakness: Can’t Assign Tasks to Risk

The most important aspect of a risk is to develop and action plan to address it. Therefore, ideally you could assign tasks tied an individual risk, as can be done in some other tools. Also, while the risk has a field for who identified the risk and who is the standard record owner, it doesn’t have a field for assigning the risk to someone to resolve it.

Schedule Management

The scheduling tool in Kantata is excellent, which is rare for PSA tools. The only better Salesforce scheduling tool I’ve found is Inspire Planner, and there are only a few feature differences between the two. Most PSA tools only support 2-3 levels of tasks, which greatly limits the work breakdown structure, but Kantata doesn’t have this limitation. It also supports critical paths, all dependency types and lag. I also consider it very important that it will synch Kantata tasks with Salesforce tasks for a single view of what user must complete.

From a pure scheduling point of view, it only lacks the ability to define constraints and it doesn’t automatically reschedule successor tasks based on actual completion date. Most of the other gaps are related to features you would want for IT development, which doesn’t appear to be an area of focus.

Strength: Gantt Chart

Excellent! Very close to the Gantt Chart functionality found in MS Project. Only gaps are:

  • Constraints (i.e. Must Start On, As Early As Possible, etc.)
  • Rescheduling successor tasks based on actual dates
  • Load leveling of resources

Strength: Synchs to Salesforce Tasks

I consider it very important that there is a single location where a user can view all the tasks assigned to them. If users have to go to several locations to see all their tasks, they are going to miss some things. Tasks planned in Kantata will create identical Salesforce tasks, so a user has a single view. Note: the documentation mentioned this functionality for OX, so I’m assuming it also exists for SX.

Weakness: IT/Agile Schedule Management

It lacks several pieces of scheduling functionality which a systems development project would use. These are:

  • Releases and go-live dates
  • Sprints
  • Agile epics and themes
  • Dedicated user stories (can use the standard tasks)
  • Burndown reports

Weakness: Inter-Project Dependencies

It lacks the ability to document and collaborate on inter-projects dependencies. For example, Project A cannot go live until Project B delivers something.

Scope Management

Kantata has the two most important pieces of scope functionality: a detailed work breakdown structure and change orders. It only lacks the ability to document a detailed list of the scope by people, process and technology like would exist in a project charter.

Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder management is Kantata’s weakest area, and this relates to its lack of change management functionality. The only stakeholder-related functionality it has is the ability to assign people to the project team with a role of ‘stakeholder’. This falls far short of what is needed for change management, since change management planning is often done at the group rather than the individual level.

In Conclusion

Kantata should be on the software short list of anyone buying a PSA tool. You should also consider it for a PMO or Salesforce project management solution if cost or resource management are high priorities. Otherwise, its extra functionality, cost and lack of change management are going to be issues for most PMO applications.

However, if you do consider it for your PSA solution, be very diligent about comparing the SX and OX versions. I wasn’t able to perform a detailed comparison of SX and OX, so there could large differences between the two versions. The scoring spreadsheet is more of a total score across both versions, and will need to updated for your final decision.

Regards,

Brian

Additional References

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