We are moving away from monthly billing

We used to offer monthly and annual subscriptions, and in the last 5 years we had just two customers ever request the monthly option.

Everyone else found the annual subscriptions far more convenient so they wouldn’t have to process invoices or receipts, or get internal purchase approvals, every month.

The monthly purchase offer wasn’t very good for Kerika either: there’s a certain amount of bookkeeping and overhead for processing every invoice and given the already low $7 price per user, this offer was essentially a money-losing proposition.

So, we are now discontinuing the monthly subscription purchases altogether.  We are asking all our customers to purchase annual subscriptions: the amounts involved are still very reasonable, and if you do change your mind in the middle of the year, you can still request a refund for the unused portion of your annual subscription.

This means you don’t have an risk of overbuying: if you change your mind about using Kerika, you can get a refund for the remaining portion of your subscription.

Bug, fixed: downloading the latest version of a document, for direct sign up users

Thanks to our users at Oxbow Farm, we have found and fixed a bug that affected users who signed up directly with Kerika: clicking on an attachment in the card details was downloading the original version of a file, not the latest.

Here’s what was happening: when you add a file to a card or canvas, Kerika checks to see if that file was already being used on that particular card or canvas.  If so, Kerika automatically handles your latest upload as providing a new version of the old file, so you see just one entry in your card attachments view:

The bug that we recently discovered, and fixed, resulted in Kerika downloading the original version of the file when you used the download option that appears after you select an attachment from the list of attachments on a card.

If you clicked on the attachment’s thumbnail to open a preview of the file, Kerika was correctly opening the latest version of the file. The bug was only in the download action, and that’s been taken care of now.

Our youngest Kerika users do amazing stuff

For the past few years Stéphane Vassort from College La Grange Du Bois in Savigny-le-Temple in France has been using Kerika with his middle-school students who have been building 3-wheel trikes as part of their science curriculum.

He recently shared this heartwarming video of his students — surely among the youngest Kerika users in the world! — with the trikes they have built:

We are so happy to be supporting this kind of work!  If you are interested in getting a free Academic & Nonprofit Account like Stéphane, please let us know.

A bunch of bug fixes

We have been busy through the holiday season, as usual, but there isn’t a lot of stuff to show you yet since the big new thing we are working on — a more automated and efficient account management and billing system — won’t be ready for a while.

Meanwhile, we have been working through bug fixes on a regular basis; many of them obscure and probably unnoticed by anyone but the Kerika team itself, but we don’t like to have known bugs sitting around so we knock off bugs fairly quickly even if no one has complained (yet).

Here are some of the bug fixes we have done recently (in no particular order):

  1. A problem that affected direct sign up users who wanted to preview their documents, but didn’t allow third-party cookies to be set in their browsers.
  2. An obscure situation where someone who owned a board, but wasn’t part of the board team, shared it with another user: in some situations the second user didn’t see this board listed correctly in their Shared With Me tab of their Home page.
  3. Another obscure circumstance in which a board owner’s face wasn’t shown correctly in the Shared With Me tab of other users.
  4. Helping a user restore access to a board that had gotten corrupted somehow in the database: this wasn’t the user’s fault and we wanted to make sure no work was lost.
  5. Some improvements to labels used in My Preferences to clarify (better) the user’s choices.
  6. Fixing at least one situation where someone wanting to sign up with their Google ID (as a Kerika+Google user) was getting endlessly redirected by Google and never reaching Kerika.  (For some reason everyone who reported this problem is located in Norway; don’t know why…)
  7. A problem affecting direct sign up users: they weren’t seeing thumbnails of their files in their Kerika cards and canvases.
  8. Some situations where a browser left running Kerika overnight didn’t refresh itself automatically the next morning, and required the user to manually refresh the view.
  9. A bug that kept cards with Critical priority from showing up correctly in the What Needs Attention View.
  10. Decided to spell “synch” as “sync” in the Calendar dialog, although we still don’t agree that “sync” is a better spelling than “synch”.
  11. Numerous updates to our website: our product’s functionality keeps expanding so fast that we need to remember to update our website every few months!

Happy New Year!

Kanban vs Scrum: what’s the difference, and which should you use?

We have a complete (one-hour long) video of the tutorial presented by Arun Kumar, CEO of Kerika, at the recent Lean Transformation Conference on the subject of Kanban vs Scrum: what’s the difference, and which should you use?

(The slides for this talk, and more, can be found on Slideshare.)

Topics covered:

Forming a team 00:01:32

The Product Owner 00:02:01

The Scrum Master 00:02:55

The Scrum Team 00:03:55

Pulling Work 00:04:04

The Product Backlog 00:05:45

Scrum Stories 00:06:25

Writing a good Story 00:07:35

From Epics to Stories 00:10:25

From Stories to Tasks 00:11:13

Estimating with Story Points 00:13:04

Organizing a Sprint 00:15:00

How long is a Sprint? 00:19:15

Sprints in theory 00:20:32

Sprints in real-life 00:20:53

Daily Standups 00:23:25

Burndown Charts 00:24:13

Team Velocity 00:25:35

Best Practices for Getting Scrum Right 00:28:00

The Nuclear Option 00:30:57

Where does Scrum work best? 00:32:02

Scrum in Government 00:33:25

Where does Kanban work best? 00:35:43

Collaboration Networks 00:37:25

Paper doesn’t scale 00:38:30

Using Kerika for Personal Kanban 00:39:50

Using Kerika for Team Kanban 00:40:24

Using Kerika in the Public Sector 00:40:37

Using Kerika for Scrum Projects 00:40:54

Capturing stories as “virtual sticky notes” 00:41:20

Summary 00:42:57

Question: how do you deal with poor performers on the team? 00:49:15

Question: in Scrum, are units of measure like lines of code still applicable? 00:50:08

Question: how do you measure individual performance? 00:51:03

Question: how do you handle poor performers within a team? 00:52:25

Question: when do you use the Nuclear Option? 00:54:20

Question: how do you estimate stories? 00:55:54

Photo credits: Abdul-Rasul Kassamali, Jama Abdirahman.

We made it easier to prioritize work

For users of Kerika’s Task Boards and Scrum Boards, we have made it easier to prioritize your work.

Background:

Traditionally, in a Kanban or Scrum board the priority is denoted by the position of the card within a column: cards that are higher priority are placed higher within a column, and the card at the top of the column is the highest priority at that stage of the workflow.

For example, in this view of a board the highest priority item for Planning & Design is the card on top of that column:

Highest priority item in Planning and Design
Highest priority item in Planning and Design

This method has the advantage of simplicity and clarity: there is no ambiguity about what is the most important work item at any stage of the workflow.

The disadvantage of this method is that as many cards start to move across the board, especially on boards where the workflow is complex (i.e. the board has many columns), it becomes harder to track all the cards that are especially important.

In other words: the simple method doesn’t scale well, and our goal with Kerika is to provide the simplest user interface on top of the most capable work management system, so we realized we needed to do something more.

Flagging cards

With our latest version, Kerika makes it easier to explicitly tag each card with a priority of Normal, High or Critical:

Setting Priority
Setting Priority

Along with assigning tags to a card, you can now set the priority of the card as well: by default all cards are Normal, but they can alternatively be flagged as High Priority or Critical.

Viewing all the High Priority and Critical Cards

We have also extended the Highlights function for Task Boards and Scrum Boards to make it easy to quickly see all the High Priority and Critical cards on a crowded board:

Highlighting high priority and critical items
Highlighting high priority and critical items

When you are looking at a board, the High Priority and Critical cards are also highlighted with small stars: a solid red star for Critical, and a hollow red star for High Priority:

High Priority and Critical cards
High Priority and Critical cards

The Normal Priority cards don’t have any star; we didn’t want to crowd the design which would have made it harder to spot the more important High Priority and Critical cards at a glance.

High Priority and Critical Cards across all your Boards

And, finally, we have enhanced the What Needs Attention View to include columns for the High Priority and Critical cards across all the boards where you are a Board Admin, or where you have been assigned the card as a Team Member:

What Needs Attention View
What Needs Attention View

Managing multiple Due Dates became easier

We have made it easier for teams to manage multiple Due Dates within the same project, especially when a single work item (as represented by a Task Board or Scrum Board card) contains many different sub-tasks, each of which could have a different Due Date.

Where a card has multiple tasks, each with different Due Dates, the range of dates is shown on cards to make it easier to understand the “time footprint” of the work item as a whole.

Here’s an example of a card with two open/remaining tasks, one of which is due today and the other tomorrow:

Tasks with different due dates
Tasks with different due dates

When viewed on a Task Board or Scrum Board, Kerika will show the range of dates involved for this card:

Tasks with a range of Due Dates
Tasks with a range of Due Dates

This provides better context, better usability for users who work with due dates: at a glance you can see the overall “time footprint” of a work item that involves several sub-tasks.

The What’s Assigned to Me and What’s Due Views are now smarter about handling multiple due dates for the same card: if just one task within a card is overdue, even though the card as a whole isn’t yet overdue, this is shown in the Overdue column in these Views.

Your 6AM summary email (which you can turn on optionally) now lists the due dates on individual tasks within cards, as these become overdue or due this week or next week.