Interview: 20 Years of Clarity and itdesign

Clarity has formed part of our portfolio for 20 years now. In this video, our managing director Dr. Jörg Leute and department manager Felix Zwießele take a look back at the beginning as well as at what the future has in store.

November 27, 2023

Partner, Clarity

We are celebrating our 20th anniversary: At the beginning of 2003, itdesign came across the PPM software tool Clarity for the first time. Back then, it was still called Niku and was developed by the eponymous company. A lot has happened since then: numerous new features, a new software developer, some name changes and, above all, a user interface that has continued to improve. Let’s review the last 20 years in an interview with our managing director Dr. Jörg Leute and department manager Felix Zwießele. 



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Dr. Jörg Leute CEO itdesign
Dr. Jörg Leute, Managing Director at itdesign
Ever since he got his first computer at the age of 12, Jörg fell in love with computing. So he and his friend Johannes turned their hobby into a career and founded itdesign in 1999. As a thought leader, he managed to grow the company from 2 to over 200 employees with more than 500 customers today. He may now have a PhD in agile project management and be a Holacracy enthusiast and expert in resource and portfolio management. But he is still the computer geek of his youth with an incredible knowledge of keyboard shortcuts and more. 
Felix Zwießele, Leiter Vertrieb PPM - itdesign
Felix Zwießele, Department Manager Clarity at itdesign
As the director of itdesign’s Clarity department, Felix is responsible for making it all come together – whether that is clients, stakeholders, partners, or employees. As a former banker and salesman, Felix knows how to handle people’s concerns: He always has an open ear and is ready to offer good advice. You can find him spending his spare time in the world of sports, including playing soccer, on the tennis court, or watching the NBA.  

The Start of the Relationship Between itdesign and Clarity

Jörg, what motivated itdesign to work with Niku 20 years ago?

Dr. Jörg Leute: Coincidence. It was pure coincidence that brought us to Niku. So I can say quite openly and honestly: It was not a strategic decision like the ones we deliberate about and make today. Back then, we tried out a variety of things. Some worked, some didn’t. 

The Biggest Milestones of the Last 20 Years

20 years of Clarity: What were the biggest milestones in your opinion?

Dr. Jörg Leute: An important milestone was certainly the first customer that we acquired after our pilot customer. It was a customer in Switzerland, and we always had a lot of fun working with them. 

The next big milestone was our first major tender, which we won. At the time, we believed that tenders didn’t actually work. So we approached this tender, which was for a very large German company, with only a moderate level of interest. 

Another big milestone was certainly the technology partnership that we entered into with CA Technologies. It was really exciting and very pleasant right from the start. I’m happy that I’m still in contact with a lot of people from back then and that we’ve been able to maintain these contacts. 

A huge step for us was developing our own modules for Clarity. One of these small modules was then developed into its own product, itd Advanced Resource Planning, which is now used by many customers worldwide. We can proudly say that, to my knowledge, more than 10,000 people are working with the Clarity add-on itd Advanced Resource Planning. We would never have thought back then that we would have such success, and it warms our hearts every day! 

Another big step was the collaboration with Broadcom, which arose after Broadcom took over CA Technologies. At that time we became a so-called Tier 1 partner. This means we can sell Clarity licenses across Europe – not only directly, but also through other partners. We are really pleased that the collaboration with Broadcom has developed to be so close and trusting and that we have received this vote of confidence. 

A personal highlight for me is the collaboration with my colleague Felix Zwießele. Felix started in sales, and after only a short time he demonstrated that he could think outside the box. We therefore welcomed the opportunity to hand over management of the Clarity area to Felix. I really look forward to working with him every day! 

From Niku to Clarity

Software Development

A Glimpse of the Present and Into the Future

Felix, what is your personal favorite feature in Clarity?

Felix Zwießele: My personal favorite feature is actually the new project list. I am always fascinated by how quickly and flexibly I can display a wide variety of data. The great widgets let you perform the initial aggregation and obtain evaluations. The whole thing can then be saved as a view. This creates incredible added value. 

What is the current collaboration between itdesign and Broadcom like?

Felix Zwießele: The collaboration with Broadcom is excellent. We are lucky to have such a strong partner that has devoted itself so strongly to product development in recent years and thereby delivers excellent results. At the same time, it is good for Broadcom to have itdesign as a partner in Europe that is both well connected and at the same time knows the special features of the market. 

A special point here in Europe is data protection. We attach great importance to the GDPR. We are also ISO certified and have recently received TISAX certification. We clearly see that data protection forms the cornerstone of any long-term partnership with our customers in the European market. 

The software world is changing quickly. Why does Clarity continue to be successful?

Felix Zwießele: Today we have reached the fourth generation of Clarity: It all started with Project Work Bench, then came Niku as an online product, and finally CA PPM and Clarity as a large web interface with a wide range of features. 

This range of features has now been combined with the usability of a modern interface. Modern software is characterized by the fact that it is easy to learn and adapt. Clarity is exactly this kind of software and what companies need to be successful. We are therefore very positive about the future. 

Where do you see Clarity in 5 to 10 years?

Felix Zwießele: I see Clarity continuing to be at the forefront of project and portfolio management in the future. Software that covers the entire process from the idea to the portfolio will also be needed in the future. 

itdesign's Story

From the Foundation until Today

Two Students Found itdesign
First Product: itd client pro
Start in CRM Consulting
First Clarity Implementation
The First PPM Konferenz
Our Add-on for Professional Resource Planning
Technology Partnership for Clarity
Meisterplan Is Born
Tübingen and Toronto
Expansion of the Management Board
Foundation of the PPM Global Alliance
Largest Clarity Partner in Europe
Further Locations in Europe
itdesign Becomes a Hosting Provider
India Opens Doors for Us

Johannes Koppenhöfer and Dr. Jörg Leute are fascinated by how new technologies can help people do their jobs. They found itdesign GmbH and, thanks to some good ideas, soon become development partners of CAS Software AG. This partnership still exists today.

In 2000, more than 7,500 companies present at CeBIT. Among them: itdesign. We present the itd client pro, our first product for CAS genesisWorld.

Who better to introduce a CRM than those who develop modules for it? itdesign steps into consulting for CAS genesisWorld. We are close to the customer and gain important experience: What does software have to look like so that people enjoy working with it?

In 2003, a customer from Switzerland asks if itdesign can also introduce project portfolio management software. We can! itdesign becomes a partner for the Clarity software, which was then part of Niku and is now part of Broadcom. Since then, PPM has been part of our DNA.

We organized our first PPM conference in 2006. Since then, we have brought Clarity users from the DACH region together once a year to create a framework for networking, exchange and inspiration around the topic of Clarity and PPM.

Our add-on itd Assignment Editor is launched for the first time. Today, the Clarity extension is called itd Advanced Resource Planning and is used by more than 10,000 people worldwide for professional resource planning.

We not only implement PPM software, but also contribute to it ourselves. itdesign has been a Clarity technology partner since 2010 and develops add-ons and individual customizations. Each add-on solves a specific problem for our customers. A milestone: Clarity release 15.6 in 2018, in which the user-friendly "Phoenix UI" interface developed by us became the standard for the software.

"Make plans that work!" In 2012, we launched our first own cloud-based software solution, Meisterplan, taking the step from consulting and service company to software developer. Since then, Meisterplan has stood for lean project portfolio management and is now used worldwide as a leading lean PPM tool.

In 2016, we move to our new company building in the heart of Tübingen. At the same time, we open our first location abroad in Toronto and take our first steps into the North American market with Meisterplan.

itdesign continues to grow steadily. This is also reflected in the management team. In 2017 and 2018, Christoph Adamczyk and Dr. Christoph Hirnle joined as additional members.

Together with four other PPM-enthusiastic, international companies, we are founding the PPM Global Alliance: a forum for the exchange of best practices, resources, and knowledge with the common goal of providing companies worldwide with excellent PPM software and services and creating real added value.

As a newly appointed Tier 1 and largest Clarity partner in Europe, we are now no longer only active in the DACH region, but also support Clarity customers throughout Europe. An important milestone on the way to even more internationality!

Our growth continues. In 2019 and 2020, we opened new locations in Zwickau and Mainz. We now work at six locations worldwide with around 180 employees.

With our new product itdesign Clarity SaaS, Clarity customers will now benefit from Clarity in the cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) with the highest security standards. As part of this, we are taking over some customers from our North American partner Rego Consulting and transferring them from Broadcom's infrastructure to our AWS cloud.

In 2021, we founded itdesign Meisterplan India Private Limited, based in New Delhi, from where we also manage our Clarity development and support requests. Additional Clarity specialists from the Indian talent market help us to meet the increased demand.

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Paul Krauss
Head of Sales Clarity

+49 7071 3667 60