Tag Archives: Agile

About the Agile methodology. See also Scrum.

Bug, fixed: making sure your Daily Task Summary gets sent at 6AM

We recently found and fixed an odd bug related to the optional 6AM Daily Task Summary email that you can get from Kerika: if you had toggled the preference setting for this email — from ON to OFF, and back to ON again — the email was getting sent at 8AM instead of 6AM.

Daily Task Reminder
Daily Task Reminder (click for larger image)

Essentially a coding mistake on our part, and one we didn’t notice (and none of our users noticed, either) for a long time because no one would try changing this preference setting very often.

The bug’s been fixed.

It’s become easier for Visitors to keep up with changes in your Boards

We have made it easier for Visitors to keep up with changes on the boards they are involved with, by extending our unique “heads-up” notification highlights to include Visitors. (Previously, this feature worked only for Team Members and Board Admins.)

Heads-up notifications
Heads-up notifications

These heads-up notifications are customized for each Board Admin, Team Member and Visitor: they show you exactly what’s new or changed on every card on a Task Board or Scrum Board.

(The term “heads-up” comes from the helmets used by fighter pilots, who need to see critical data all the time, without having to turn their heads.)

Image result for heads up display fighter jet

What’s New and Updated: a new Kerika View

Views are unique to Kerika: no other work management system provides such an easy way to see what matters, across all the boards you are working on.

These Views make it easy for organizations to really scale up their use of Kerika across multiple projects and many ongoing projects at the same time.

We have now added a very useful new View: What’s New and Updated.  As you might guess from the name, this View lets you catch up on everything that’s new and changed, across all the boards you are working on — as a Board Admin, Team Member or Visitor.

What's New and Updated
What’s New and Updated (click for a larger image)

This View can work very effectively as a Dashboard for managers who need to keep track of many different boards, all working at the same time: instead of constantly revisiting each board one-by-one, this View is a simple, comprehensive way to see everything that’s changing across all your boards.

The updates are shown in Kerika’s unique “heads-up” notification style: the blue New tags highlight cards that have been newly added to your boards (that you haven’t opened yet), and the orange highlights show you precisely what’s changed on your old cards.

The new and changed cards are sorted into columns, with each column containing all the new and changed items within a particular board.  The newest changes appear at the top of a column, and if a board has nothing new to report, the corresponding column is not shown (so your View doesn’t get cluttered up.)

(Cards that are moved to the Done or Trash columns on a board are not included in the View, to help avoid getting the View cluttered.)

As with all Views, it’s easy to operate on all the cards within a column, by selecting the Column Actions button that appears on the top of each column:

View options
View options

The Mark All Cards As Read action is useful if you want to ignore everything that’s going on in a particular board, e.g. when you have just returned from a status meeting where you got fully briefed on what’s happening on a particular board.

Another way to temporarily ignore individual boards is to Hide Column: this collapses the column from the View, and let’s you focus more intently on the handful of boards you care most about.

Selecting a card in this View lets you open the card within the View itself, or to open it on the board where the card actually sits:

View card
View card

(Sometimes it’s easy to deal with cards just by themselves; sometimes the View Board action is more helpful, if you want to be sure you understand the full context in which a card changed.)

Using your mouse’s right-click action will also bring up a bunch of useful actions for that card:

Mouse actions
Mouse actions

In addition to all the other actions you can perform on cards, you also have the option to get the URL (address) of card using the Get Link action.  Every cards, every canvas and every board in Kerika has a unique address, and using these URLs anywhere on a board, e.g. in the board’s details or chat, will automatically set up a link between the two cards.

When you mark a card as “read” on this View, it remains on the View until you click on the Refresh button (shown at the top-right corner of the View).

And, as with all Views in Kerika, the What’s New and Updated View includes the “For Me” toggle button on the top-right corner: clicking this will quickly filter the View to show you just those items that are personally assigned to you.

For Me toggle
For Me toggle (click for larger image)

This feature is available to all our users, just like every other feature in Kerika: it doesn’t matter whether you are still in your 30-day free trial, you are working on the free Individual Plan, or are benefiting from Kerika’s free Academic and Nonprofits Accounts. Everyone always get the same Kerika goodies 🙂

You can now hide columns in your Views as well

For some time now we have offered the ability for you to hide entire columns on a Task Board or Scrum Board; we are now extending that to Views as well:

Hidden column in Views
Hidden column in Views

In the example shown above, several columns are hidden in this What Needs Attention view, and Kerika shows a count of how many items are hidden in each column.

This feature is available through the Column Actions button that’s at the top of each column:

Hide column option for Views
Hide column option for Views

This can help you focus in on specific work items that need more attention than others.

You can’t change the extension on a document

We have made a change to the Card and Board Attachments feature to prevent users from changing the extension of a file they have already added: for example, a “.xlsx” file can’t be renamed as a “.docx” file.

We did this because changing the file type often had unpredictable consequences when a Team Member tried to upload an attachment.

This restriction applies to the most common file types, not all. Here’s how it works:

Image file attachment
Image file attachment

In the example above, an image has been added as an attachment to this card, and it has the .PNG file type/extension.

When you hover your mouse over any attachment, Kerika will show you the actions that are possible with that attachment, one of them being Rename.

Attachment options
Attachment options

If you select Rename, Kerika will make sure you only change the file name, not the file type/extension (.PNG in this example):

Renaming a document
Renaming a document

Bug, fixed: permanently deleting items from the Trash

Thanks to a longtime user from Poland, we discovered — and fixed — a bug that crept into one of our recent feature enhancements, where items couldn’t be permanently deleted from the Trash column on Task Boards and Scrum Boards.

(This bug was created when we merged the Card Operations and Column Operations into a single menu, for easier use.)

Some minor bug fixes

We did an update yesterday that included a bunch of minor bug fixes and usability tweaks. (It also included a ton of behind-the-scenes improvements to our architecture and product development processes, but if we did our job well you shouldn’t see any of that change…)

  1. When the Kerika server is being updated (to a newer version), your browser will no longer keep trying to reconnect while this is underway.

    We have some code in place to help fix broken network connections: if your browser can detect that it’s connection to the Kerika server is broken for any reason (usually a network error), the browser will automatically attempt to reconnect.

    This doesn’t make sense if the server is down for planned maintenance.
  2. If you are working in multiple accounts and you decide to switch between them, we offer your choices in a more logical way: all the account owners you are connected to are listed alphabetically, and then each account owned is listed alphabetically.

    Our previous display was kind of random making it hard to scroll through a long list of accounts. This affected only a very small number of users who were working on many different accounts, but still…
  3. Now that we are encouraging our customers to converge around service accounts, we are trying to make sure these service accounts don’t get too crowded from the perspective of any single user.

    We have always had the ability to “favorite” some boards (and templates) so you can have your own personal, curated list of boards that you care about — and so you can ignore the rest — but now we have made it easier for Board Admins to move their boards to the trash or archive (or to restore them later) so they can help keep the commonly-shared service account in a more useful and relevant state for all the users within that account.
  4. A really small thing, but we decided to change the Sort by Status feature on our Task Boards and Scrum Boards so that On Hold cards appear at the bottom of the column, below all the others.
  5. Bug fix: if you changed the name of a board using the Board Settings dialog (assuming you are one of the Board Admins), the new name is now reflected immediately in the breadcrumbs.
  6. If someone who is currently a Team Member on your Task Board or Scrum Board is made a Visitor, he/she will not be removed from the current card assignments.  This makes it easier to change your mind if you decide you want that person to be a Team Member after all: just change this person’s role in the Board Team dialog, back to Team Member, and all the old card assignments will be there.

 

A simpler menu for cards and columns on your Task Boards and Scrum Boards

We used to have separate button, and associated menus, for actions related to cards and for actions related to columns:

Separate card and column actions
Separate card and column actions

This reflected the history of the Kerika product: we first designed and built the card actions, and much later added the column actions.

In retrospect, however, we concluded that separating these into two separate menus was not a good idea: it was confusing for our users to remember which menu supported which action. (Even the Kerika team, which uses Kerika for everything that the company does, was having trouble remembering the differences between the two buttons and menus.)

We have fixed that usability problem with our latest release: a single button is shown, and the popup menu that appears includes both card actions and column actions:

Combined Card and Column Actions Menu
Combined Card and Column Actions Menu

Clicking on the Sort and Move actions brings up all the sorting and moving options you have; the Sort menu now has a much richer set of actions:

Sort options
Sort options

We have also done some small tweaks to the sorting action: Sort by Status now puts the On Hold cards at the bottom of the column, below all the ones flagged as Normal.

Using Service Accounts to manage all your Kerika Users

For some segments of our users, e.g. college students using Kerika for their course projects, it makes sense to treat each user as an independent entity, since the relationships between these students will vary from class to class, from semester to semester.

These collaboration networks are very dynamic, and it’s impossible to predict whether a team that got together to work on a three-month class project will stick together after that project is over, or work as the same group of people on the next class project.

In business environments (companies, nonprofits and government agencies), however, the teams are more stable: people don’t change jobs every few months.  But, turnover can still be a problem: if Joe leaves your company, how can you be sure that all the boards and documents that Joe had created are not lost along when Joe is gone?

The simple solution to this is to use service accounts to own all the boards that are being used by a community of users, like a department or even the entire company (if the company is small enough).

A service account looks like any other Kerika account — it is associated with it’s own email, e.g. kerika@example.com — but it isn’t actually a real person: the email will have been set up by the organization’s IT staff or management, and the password is typically shared between a small handful of supervisory people.

Unlike real people, service accounts will always stick around: they won’t retire, resign, or get run over by a bus…

This means the organization has continuity and security with respect to it’s Kerika boards and documents: because the project assets are owned by kerika@example.com, rather than joe@example.com, it doesn’t matter whether Joe is still working at the company or not.

We encourage all our professional users — people working in companies, nonprofits and governments — to set up service accounts as a best practice, and we can help you: just email us at info@kerika.com and we will do all the account consolidation for you:

  • All the boards owned by the people in your organization will be transferred to the ownership of the service account instead.
  • Everything about each board is preserved as part of the transfer: all the cards, canvases, due dates, etc. remain the same after the transfer; it’s just that the boards are no longer owned by joe@example.com and susan@example.com, but instead are now owned by kerika@example.com
  • You can decide who to consolidate within the service account: typically it is everyone in the organization, but if you have different departments or cost centers, it will make sense to have more than one service account — one for each department or cost center.
  • After the consolidation, individual users within your organization will no longer have separate accounts: their Kerika identity, preferences, history, etc. are all preserved, but instead of working in several different accounts, they will all be working in a single service account, that’s under the control of your organization.
  • All this can be done by us, overnight: the next day your users can come into work and login as they did before, and have access to all the boards they had the previous day. All the boards will look the same, and your users can pick exactly where they left off.

When users have been consolidated within a service account, any new boards that they create will automatically be owned by that service account, rather than by the individual users.  This ensures that all current and all future project assets are owned by the service account, i.e. by the company, rather than by individual users.

It’s still possible for individual users to have privacy within the service account: for sensitive work (e.g. personnel matters) they can adjust the privacy of individual boards to be “share with board team only”.  When the privacy is set to board team only, the board will be visible only to the people who are specifically added by the Board Admins to the board’s team.

The Account Owner, i.e. the service account, will always have access to every board within that account, regardless of the board’s privacy settings. This is consistent with how other organizational assets are currently managed: if you have a work email, for example, you expect to have privacy from your coworkers, but you know that the company’s IT department will always have access to your email if they need it — and your email doesn’t really belong to you, but to your employer.