Category Archives: Government

Using Kerika to achieve Lean Government.

Kerika (not) in China

One of our users, normally resident in Poland, is in China right now on vacation, and found to his disappointment that he couldn’t login to his Kerika+Google account.

Actually, he couldn’t login to his Google Account at all.

This is disappointing to hear, but not entirely surprising: Google has had problems making its services available in China for a long time, and so Kerika+Google becomes collateral damage in this larger conflict…

The only long-term solution would be for Kerika to offer its own signup and file storage mechanism, which is something we have considered in the past but is not high on our priority list right now because we have some other stuff we want to build first that’s going to be simply amazing.

Which is good news or bad news, depending upon whether you are in China right now or not…

Kerika makes FOIA one-click easy

If you work for a government agency in the United States โ€“ at the Federal, State, or Local level โ€“ you are subject to various public disclosure requirements, thanks to theย Freedom of Information Act and various other federal and state “Sunshine” laws.

(And, if you work for a governmental organization anywhere in the European Union, that’s going to be true for you as well.)

Kerika makes it one-click easy for you to meet you disclosure requirements, thanks to the Archive and Export feature:

Archiving freezes a project, presumably in it’s “done” state: everyone who used to have access to the project still does, but all cards, canvases and documents associated with that project are made read-only.

This means that you now have a pretty good record for what a project looked like when it was completed: what work was done, by whom, and which documents were used and what conversations took place.

And the kind of integrated, comprehensive view of a done project is something that you can get only from Kerika: the old mix of SharePoint and Project and regular email just doesn’t work!

Exporting is the other piece of the disclosure puzzle: with just one mouse click, you can export all (or some) of the cards in a board, in CSV or HTML format.

Exporting in HTML is particularly helpful when meeting disclosure requests because the HTML output can be easily edited, using Microsoft Word for example, to take out items that need to be redacted for security or privacy reasons.

That’s the difference with a modern project management and team collaboration software like Kerika: the worst part of your government job just became one-click easy.

When Projects Get Done: Archive Them

Here’s another new feature with our latest update: when a project is done, you can drag it to the Archive column on your Home page.

Archiving Projects
Archiving Projects

Archiving a project freezes it: no one can make any changes to it while it is in the Archive, so if you change your mind and want to make some changes to an archived project, you need to drag it back out of the Archive and into your Projects column.

All the documents attached to an Archived Project are frozen: the goal here is to preserve the final/completed state of a project and all its assets, so that later on if you need to investigate a problem — or deal with a FOIA request or some other legal disclosure requirement — you can do so with confidence.

All dates, status, chat and teams are also frozen: if someone was part of an Archived Project’s team at the time the project was moved to the Archive, they will continue to show up on that project team.

If a task had a due date and hadn’t yet been completed (i.e. the card hadn’t yet been moved to the Done column), that due date stays intact.

If the project was a Scrum Board, it will continue to stay attached to the Backlog it was using at the time the board got archived: when you view an archived Scrum Board, it will show that Backlog in it’s current state.ย  This makes it easy to archive Scrum Boards that represent different Sprints that work off the same shared Backlog!

You can change your mind: If you need to work again on a previously archived project, just drag it out of the Archive column and drop it into the Projects column on your Home Page, and that will “un-archive” (restore) your project.

You can create templates from archived projects: if you drag an archived project and drop it into the Templates column on your Home Page, that will create a template based upon that project, while leaving the project in your Archive.

Beth Albertson’s presentation on using Kerika at DSHS

Beth Albertson, Solutions Architect at Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services, gave a presentation on November 18, 2014, at the Project Management Institute’s Olympia Chapter.

Beth Albertson
Beth Albertson

Beth talked about her own background in project management — how she started off as a chemist and researcher, and gradually found her way into project management and IT over the years — and how she used Kerika to transition from a classic “Waterfall” style of project management to something more Agile.

The presentation was very well received, and she has graciously agreed to share it with everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

Kerika at the PMI Olympia Chapter

Arun Kumar, CEO of Kerika, and Beth Albertson, Solution Architect at Washington State’s Dept of Social and Health Services, gave a joint presentation at the Project Management Institute (PMI)’s Olympia chapter yesterday.

Beth talked about her experience in moving away from Microsoft Project to online task boards, and Arun talked about the general use of online task boards for distributed teams, Lean teams, and Agile teams, with a special focus on the public sector.

It was a great evening, with dinner served and some great Q&A afterwards!

Too bad we forgot to take pictures ๐Ÿ™

A great response at the Lean Transformation Conference

Our presentation on Distributed Lean & Agile Teams in the Public Sector at the Lean Transformation Conference last week was very well received: the presentation was given on both days of the conference, and attendees were polled by the conference organizers on whether they liked the talks, or not.

  • Session 1 (Tuesday): 100% of the attendees who provided feedback gave Arun‘s talk a thumbs-up.
  • Session 2 (Wednesday): 96% of attendees who provided feedback gave Arun’s talk a thumbs-up!
Arun at Lean Transformation Conference 2014
Arun at Lean Transformation Conference 2014

The Results Washington folks have produced a short video featuring attendees at the conference — we recognize a user or two ๐Ÿ™‚

Revisiting the (deserted) Post-It Palace

A couple of weeks ago we visited a UX team at the Washington State Department of Licensing, and took a photo of the “Post-It Palace” they had built within their cubicles:

Post-It Palace
Post-It Palace

2 weeks later, this is what we saw:

Revisiting the Post-It Palace
Revisiting the Post-It Palace

Everything is now inside a set of Kanban Boards powered by Kerika+Box!

All done
All done

Presenting at OFM’s Fall Forum last week

Ben Vaught, from the Washington State Office of the CIO, and I had the pleasure of presenting at the state’s Office of Financial Management’s Fall Forum last week, held over two days at the Thurston County Fairgrounds in Olympia.

Ben talked about the use of visual processes as part of the Washington Business One Stop initiative he has been working on for a while, and towards the end of his talk he showed some pictures of the WIKISPEED garage in Lynnwood, where I first met Ben and Michael DeAngelo, Deputy CIO for the state.

My talk was supposed to have been on Visual Management in government and administrative processes, but seeing pictures of the old WIKISPEED garage, which used to be covered with stickies on all walls (including the massive garage doors!) before the team adopted Kerika to knit together their global community of volunteers, was a wonderful throwback moment!

When it came to my turn, in addition to showing the use of Kerika for cross-agency GIS projects, such as those led by Joy Paulus, I was also able to show examples of Kerika in use by Sherri Hrubi, Danica Ersland and Melissa Wideman, who all work together in OFM’s HR Division.

Several other people presented, including Irene Hill and her design team from the Department of Licensing, Howard Cox from the Department of Enterprise Services, and Eric Gardner from OFM’s Forecasting Division.

Exporting Kanban and Scrum Boards: a new Kerika feature

We have a great new Export feature for all Task Boards (i.e. Kanban Boards) and Scrum Boards.

The Export feature is simple, elegant and powerful, and is available to all Project Leaders, Team Members and Visitors on the project team.

To access this feature, simply click on the Project Info button that’s shown at the top-right of each Kerika Board, and you will see the Project Info display (that we have talked about in an earlier blog post):


CSV format is useful if you want to want to take data from Kerika and put it into Excel or some other analysis tool;

HTML format is useful if you want to print material from Kerika, or insert it into Word, PowerPoint or similar tools.

With both CSV and HTML exports, hidden cards are not exported: this means that if you are currently choosing to hide some columns (by using the Workflow button), or hide some cards (by using the Tags filters), then the cards that you are not viewing right now will not be part of the export.

When you export a board in CSV format, you get the following data, for each visible card:

Example of CSV export
Example of CSV export

Column Name: e.g. Backlog, In Progress, Done, etc.

Card Name: e.g. “Create PR news release”.

Card Description: e.g. “We need to create a PR news release once our latest version is ready…” (Rich text will be converted to plain text, since CSV files can only deal with plain text.)

Status: e.g. Needs Review, Needs Rework, etc. (If the card doesn’t have a special status, “Normal” will be shown.)

Due Date: the date the card is due, if a date has been set.ย  (If the card doesn’t have a Due Date, “Not Scheduled” will appear.)

Assigned To: a list of names of the people the card is currently assigned to.ย  (If the card isn’t assigned to anyone, “Not Assigned” will appear.)

Exporting could take a while: the exported data are put into a file in your Google Drive or Box account — depending upon whether you are using Kerika+Google or Kerika+Box — and when the process completes, you get an email with a link to the file containing your data.

It’s a similar experience if you do a HTML export; however the format of the data is different, giving you an indented set of attributes for each card, like this example from a Kerika+Box project:

Example of HTML export
Example of HTML export from Kerika+Box

One caveat about exporting HTML: if you open the results in Google Docs, Google shows a preview of the output, and that doesn’t look good: instead of rendering the HTML, Google actually exposes it.

Here’s an example from a Kerika+Google project:

HTML preview in Google Docs
Example of HTML export from Kerika+Google

The export feature can be used for many different purposes, of course: the most common scenario we envision is people wanting to include material from Kerika in their analysis and presentations.

And, of course, one use would be for government agencies that have to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, or other Sunshine laws.