Tag Archives: Kerika

About Kerika, the company.

Views across all your boards

At long last, we have built Views — one of the most commonly requested features, and something that we had been obsessively designing and redesigning over years, trying to figure out the best way to handle this need.

We have done it now. Views has been built, and is automatically available across all your Task Boards and Scrum Boards, whether they are owned by you or shared with you.

We are starting off with four standard Views, and we will built more in the future, and add a way for you to build your own Views as well.

The Views we have built are:

What’s Assigned To Me

The most commonly asked for feature by people who are working on several projects — and, hence, several boards — at the same time.  This is what it looks like:

What's Assigned To Me
What’s Assigned To Me

Everything that’s currently assigned to, on all boards except for those that are in the Trash or Archive, are collected for you into a single View, where cards are organized as follows:

  • Not Scheduled
  • Overdue
  • Due Today
  • Due This Week (excluding what’s already included in Due Today)
  • Due Next Week
  • Due This Month (excluding what’s already included in Due Today and Due This Week)
  • Due This Quarter
  • Due Next Quarter

It is a comprehensive summary of everything you need to get done, and it will be invaluable for managers and anyone else who has to work on multiple projects at the same time.

If you select a card in a View, like this

Selecting card from a View
Selecting card from a View

You get quick access to key actions:

  • Move to Done
  • Move to Trash
  • View Board
  • Open

Open opens the card right there, inside the View itself.  View Board, on the other hand, opens the card in the board in which it is located.

Both are useful, depending upon the card and what you want to do: in some cases you just need to update a particular card — e.g. reschedule it, add a comment or file — and opening the card in the View itself, which is very fast, is enough.

In other situations you might want to be sure you are understanding the context of the card, and it is better to see where it is on the board that contains it.  This can be helpful for cards that you are not quite sure about.

What’s Due

This View will be particularly helpful to managers (Board Admins): it summarizes everything that’s due, on all boards where you are one of the Board Admins:

What's Due
What’s Due

This basically brings to life everything that you can also (optionally) get in your 6AM Task Summary email.

Cards are organized for you as follows:

  • Overdue
  • Due Today
  • Due This Week (excluding what’s already shown as Due Today)
  • Due Next Week
  • Due This Month
  • Due Next Month

For this View, as with the What’s Assigned to Me View, we try to be smart about not showing duplicate cards: if something is due today, for example, it will show up in the Due Today column, but not get duplicated in the Due This Week or Due This Month column.

This makes it easier for you to plan your schedule: you can see what needs to get right away, and what needs to get done later.

What Needs Attention

Again, a View that will be of particular interest to managers concerned with several ongoing boards:

What Needs Attention
What Needs Attention

Here, Kerika tries to show everything that needs a little extra attention: things that are

  • Overdue
  • Flagged as Critical
  • Flagged as Blocked
  • Flagged as Needs Review
  • Flagged as Needs Rework
  • Flagged as being On Hold

These items typically represent your risk profile across all your boards, and Kerika brings it all together in a single View.

What Got Done

Great for anyone who needs to produce a status report, or any manager who needs to monitor progress across many different projects:

What Got Done
What Got Done

Across all boards where you are a Board Admin, this View summarizes

  • What got done Today
  • What got done This Week (excluding items shown in This Week)
  • What got done Last Week
  • What got done This Month (again, excluding items shown for Today and This Week)
  • What got done Last Month
  • What got done This Quarter

Accessing Views:

All your Views can be accessed from a new tab called Views (naturally) on your Home Page:

All your Views
All your Views

On each View card, Kerika shows how many items are included in that View, and as of when.  The Views are automatically refreshed when you open them, but in-between they are not updated because we do not expect the information shown to change on a second-by-second basis.

If you are worried that your View is out of date, you can update it by selecting it on your Home Page:

Refreshing a View
Refreshing a View

You can also update any View that you currently have open, by clicking on the Refresh button shown on the top-right of the View:

Refreshing a View
Refreshing a View

We will let you go crazy with these Views, for now. In the future we will add more (we already have some ideas on that front, but would love to hear from you as well!) and also add a Custom View capability.

Meanwhile, enjoy.

An easier way to hide or show columns

We are extending the Column Actions menu (featured in a previous post) to provide a quicker, easier way to hide (or show) individual columns on your Kerika Task Boards and Scrum Boards:

Option to hide column
Option to hide column

When a column is hidden, it’s name is shown vertically, so you can easily remember which columns you have hidden at this time.

Hidden columns
Hidden columns

Revealing columns that are hidden is easy: just click on the “eye” button and the column immediately comes back into view.

Every Team Member can decide whether to show or hide individual columns: their choices won’t affect the way other Team Members choose to view the same board.

Apologies for the long absence…

Sorry for not having posted in a while; we have been swamped with a new UI design that has consumed all of our time.

The new UI, by the way, is all about making Kerika more accessible, particularly to people who are new to visual collaboration.

Our user feedback had revealed a couple of uncomfortable truths that we needed to address:

  • Very few users were aware of all the functionality that already exists in Kerika. Which means that we didn’t need to focus so much on building new functions as we did on making sure people understand what Kerika can already do.
  • Our new users aren’t just new to Kerika; in most cases, they are new to visual collaboration altogether.  Even though there has been a proliferation in recent months of all sorts of companies trying to recast old, tired products as exciting new visual collaboration (hello, Smartsheet!), our new users aren’t converting away from our competitors as much as converting away from paper, email, and SharePoint.

This, then, is the goal of our new UI: to make it easier for people to adapt from paper and email to visual collaboration, and to make it easier for all users to exploit all the great functionality that we have already built.

We will have more on this in the coming months, as we get closer to releasing our new user interface, but in the meantime we have queued up a bunch of blog posts to make sure you know about all the other great stuff we have been working.

Yeah, our biggest problem is we don’t tell people what we have already done…

Changing your Kerika password

For folks who sign up directly with Kerika, we store the user password (in an encrypted form, of course), which means that these users can change their passwords directly from within the Kerika application by going to their My Account page at https://kerika.com/my-account:

Changing password for Google sign up
Changing password for Google sign up

For people who sign up using their Google or Box IDs, we rely upon Google/Box to manage their passwords: in fact, we never even see anyone’s Google or Box password, even for a second!

So, their My Account page looks a little different, like in this example of a Kerika+Google user:

Changing password for Google sign up
Changing password for Google sign up

 

Technology strategy: a look back at 2015

A user from Mexico recently wrote to us asking which technologies we currently use for the Kerika software, since he was in the early days of planning his own ERP product and was impressed with the overall speed and responsiveness of Kerika.

The question was hard to answer with a simple email in part because we use several technologies, and because we are in the middle of considering some significant changes for 2016.

So, here’s an overview of the current state, with a future blog post to talk about what we are planning to change in 2016…

Our own server software:

All of our server software is written in Java.  That’s has worked well for us:

  • We have a lot of in-house expertise with Java (and none with PHP, Ruby, etc.).
  • Java is usually one of the first languages to be supported by other platform companies that decide to publish their APIs.
  • There is a rich ecosystem of open-source code, well-written blog posts and other knowledge sources that help us get our work done.

Open-source server software:

We use a few, well-established open source technologies on the back-end of Kerika:

  • We use the CometD protocol to provide real-time updates from the server to the browser client. CometD essentially works like a long-poll method, allowing for real-time updates to be pushed continuously from the server to the client without the client having to make new requests.  We could, and probably should, switch over entirely to Web Sockets but there are still older browsers out there that don’t support Web Sockets. Hence, CometD.
  • We use SOLR for our search engine. SOLR is an implementation of the Lucene search technology pioneered over a decade ago by Doug Cutting who has since gone on to do other great work in the software industry. SOLR is widely used by some very large SaaS services like Salesforce.
  • We use Jetty for our web servers.  Jetty is part of the Apache open-source projects, and is a well-established, robust web server that hasn’t given us any trouble in a long while. 🙂
  • We use open-source OAuth for our direct signup.
  • We use the Java Spring and JBoss libraries for various features.
  • We use Log4J for error logging.
  • We use MySQL for our databases.

Platform Libraries

Given our close integration with Google and Box, we naturally use their Java SDK Libraries for authentication and file management.

We used to use Google Checkout, until Google yanked that service from the market (leaving us high-and-dry and more than a little pissed off…) as well as Google Contacts, until we realized this particular integration was scaring away potential users.

Client Software

All of our browser software is written in HTML5, which means a mix of (mostly) Javascript and (a little) SVG.

(Actually, the SVG is only used for the Whiteboards feature of Kerika. The rest is all Javascript and plain HTML.)

Open-source client software

The Javascript ecosystem is quite rich and well established, so there are a bunch of open source libraries we can make good use of:

  • JQuery is used a lot. A lot.
  • More recently, Backbone and Marionette have helped fill in the blanks left by JQuery.
  • The i18n.js library helps with internationalization, although we haven’t actually offered any language other than English so far, for the user interface.
  • Log4Javascript helps with error logging and debugging.
  • Bootstrap is used mainly for our website, to make it responsive on tablets and phones.

What changes in 2016?

Quite a lot, probably, but we haven’t finished doing our re-architecture planning.

For one thing, we are planning to use microservices a lot more to make our overall system architecture less monolithic, and we are also planning to use container technology to make deployments faster.

We might consider switching away from SOLR, which we never really mastered, to another search engine which we have more familiarity with, but haven’t made a decision on that either.

 

Getting psyched for 2016!

We have big plans for the next year, and, in fact, have been very busy through the holiday season as well working on our product roadmap.

2016 will involve a major rewrite of our software: first the back-end, to improve scalability and to also use newer technologies like containers that make for easier deployment, and then the front-end, which will make Kerika even easier to use — especially for people new to Kanban and Scrum.

2015 has been a great year for us: our registered users doubled, and so did the number of paying customers.

It has also been a great learning opportunity for us: we met in person or had long telephone conversations with a wide range of users and got an even better understanding of the problems we can address with our software.

What we have heard consistently from folks about why they like Kerika: “it provides really great functionality in a really simple system”.

Our focus on providing a simple, intuitive user interface rather than delivering raw power is winning people over.

As we plan our future roadmap, the key goals we want to achieve are:

  • Make Kerika easier for new users. “Power users” already love us, but we need to make Kerika even more accessible for people who are completely new to visual task management.
  • Avoid religion.  Too many of our competitors are dogmatic about how to implement Kanban or Scrum; we will continue to remain pragmatic and let people work the way they want, rather than insist that we know the only true path to project success.
  • Build solutions rather than tools. Some of our competitors focus on building as many buttons, “power-ups” and other bells and whistles. You know, because “if less is more, think how much more more could be…”  Our view is different: the smarter the system, the fewer the controls that need to be exposed and manipulated by the user.
  • First class mobile experience. We have not delivered this in the past.  To do this, we need to change our back-end and front-end infrastructure very signfiicantly, and we have made that financial commitment. Look for good stuff in 2016.
  • First class support, for all users. We get at least one unsolicited email every week from a user who is surprised by the level of support we provide, even to free or trial users.  We need to keep this up. (OK, so this has nothing to do with our product roadmap but we feel strongly about it so we thought we would emphasize this point…)

Thanks to all our users who have helped us grow so far. In a reversal of cards and gifts going from vendors to customers, here’s a lovely calendar and card we just got from one of our happy customers:

Calendar and card
Calendar and card

Timing is everything when you send email

We occasionally email all of our users, when we have released something significant in terms of functionality or usability improvements.

On average, we probably send these emails 2-3 times a year, although we release software updates much more often.

Not every software update is announced in a mass email, although all the improvements and changes are always noted on this blog: unless the changes were big enough to require some additional explanation, we prefer to let users discover the new features on our own.

What we have noticed with the last couple of announcements is that the timing of the email makes a very big difference in terms of how many people actually open and read the emails.

Here are the last two emails we sent:

Timing is everything
Timing is everything

 

The “Release 62” announcement was actually far more significant, in our opinion, than the more recent “Release 66” version, at least in terms of UI changes and new features.

But, the Release 62 announcement went out mid-day on a Monday, and it was largely ignored as a result: only 9.7% of people opened that email.

The Release 66 announcement, on the other hand, went out on a Saturday afternoon, and had nearly double the open rate.

We think the simple explanation is that there was less competition for our emails on Saturday afternoon: fewer emails from colleagues and fewer crises to attend to.

We had long suspected this to be the case, but never had such clear proof that timing is everything when you send email 🙂

Join us at the Lean Transformation Conference

Once again Arun Kumar, Kerika’s founder and CEO, will be speaking at the annual Lean Transformation Conference organized by Results Washington.

This conference is all about Lean and Agile in the public sector: thousands of folks from state, county and local (city) government agencies will be attending, and as usual Kerika will also have a display booth on the 5th floor of the Tacoma Convention Center.

Arun’s topic this year is “Can You See It Now? Visualizing your Lean and Agile Workflows”.

We look forward to seeing our Washington users at the conference; please do stop by our booth or sign up for Arun’s talk!