Notes about our latest event in partnership with Zenika

Tuesday 27th of June we co-organized with our partner Zenika, a workshop about brainstorming. The goal was to show how Kantree can help when starting new projects and how it can accompany you as your project grows. Richard Coffre, Head of Agile and coach at Zenika, hosted the session while Maxime, co-founder of Kantree, customized the project.

The 2 hours session was very interactive with participants being involved in the brainstorming/creation phase of the project. As they were mostly from the IT world, we focused on setting up a scrumban project which also solved some of the pain points they encountered while using other tools.

Kantree was able to answer most of the ideas proposed by the participants. Notably, ways to address different roles in the same team or multiple teams. Kantree shines in this area with its powerful filters, grouping and views mechanism. Customizing the project to handles all the requirements was straightforward.

The most lacking area was regarding dependencies. While Kantree provides a relationship attribute, it is limited to providing the information but no action can be take as a consequence of a relationship. For example, blocking a card is not possible. We are however working on improvements in this regard which should come out this fall.

This event allowed us to show how truly agile Kantree is. We were able to fully customized the project from a user perspective (no needs to be an admin) in a very advanced manner. On top of that we showed how the process can be modified at anytime in a very easy way.

Thanks to Richard and to everybody at Zenika !

Kantree 5.0: a major step towards our vision of a universal work management platform

This new release is a major step towards our vision of a tool which helps businesses of all sizes manage tasks, projects, processes and more on a single platorm.

More than ever, Kantree can be used for everything related to project management, roadmapping, HR management, time tracking and so on.

A revamped project navigation

As we are adding new features, we had to rethink the top navigation bar in projects. The previous “visualization mode” dropdown was not meant to navigate to views which didn’t contain cards. As a result, it was hard to understand and limiting for us.

the new project navigation

The new layout adds a new menu to switch between different sections of the project:

the view mode menu

  • Board (Kanban and Table view) where you can manage cards

  • Planning (Calendar and the new Timeline) to help you meet deadlines and plan for the future

  • Reports, a rebuilt experience which lets you build reporting dashboards for your project

  • Journal to browse all past activities across your project (useful for the daily morning meeting)

  • the new Logs view that helps you track working time and budget information across your project (more on this below)

  • Forms which lets you create forms to collect information from external contributors and automatically create a card (we talked about forms in a previous blog post).

The group by menu is now at the end of the filter bar.

We see the views as an essential way to customize your project but the way to manage them was underwhelming! The most important change is that the sidebar is now expandable using the double arrow button at the bottom. You can now re-order views and update them. We also made the distinction between public and private views more obvious.

the new sidebar

Introducing the timeline for easier scheduling

For those of you who prefer to manage their project using a schedule-based approach we’ve added a timeline view, so that managing your schedule becomes more visual. We’ve also refreshed the calendar view. Both of these views are located under the “Planning” section.

the timeline view

Another important change which was needed to enable the timeline view is the possibility to set date ranges in date attributes.

Our timeline view will remind you of a Gantt chart. All cards are visible and you can group them like on in Kanban or Table view. We’ve provided a compact mode which groups your cards in a smart way so that you can effectively see how much cards are running concurrently.

For example, group your cards by assignees and see who is doing what and for how long, and if someone is overloaded with work and how you can fix this.

compact timeline group by assignees

We can’t wait to have your feedback on this and on how it can help you meet your deadlines more easily.

Create beautiful dashboards with our rebuilt analytics view

Previously, our analytics view was very limited and almost unusable in complex projects. This new Reports view is a complete rebuilt to fix that and give us a strong foundation to expand reporting even further.

Create dashboards by adding charts, list of cards or queries (see further) to it:

an example of reports

Resize and reorganize the widgets, and save your report in your sidebar to quickly access it later. Using shared or private views it is easy to build reports just for you or for the whole team.

We’ve reworked all the charts to be easier to read and configure, you will find workload, cumulative flow diagrams, cycle times, breakdowns, burndown charts… You can also add results of any KQL queries (see further).

Once configured with your project metrics, these reports can help you track your project health and improve the way you work.

Introducing card logs, logging time and expenses is now easier than ever.

With this release we are introducing the ability to log any kind of structured information on a card. The most obvious application of this feature is time tracking.

As always, our approach when adding features is understanding the underlying concepts and then provide a new brick on top of which you can implement your solution to your problem.

We realized that time tracking is the act of logging a structured piece of information (eg.: number of hours worked + description in the case of time tracking) anchored to a precise date and time. This concept is shared by many other type of information tracking. For example:

  • track expenses (amount + reason)
  • track client calls (number of minutes on the phone + description)
  • track physical interventions (travel time + time on site + reason)
  • and more…

This new feature let you create different category of information, each of them with their own list of attributes.

card log section in a card

You can then navigate to the logs section and have an overview of logs across all cards (as well as export them to CSV):

Logs view

You can also get some information out of logs in your reports:

Logs in reports

Introducting a new query language

At the heart of this new release lies a powerful new query language, named KQL for Kantree Query Language. It is the cement between all our building blocks which will allow you to extract information from your project. You can compare it to formulas in Excel.

The full documentation is available in our guides but we’ve also provided a visual query builder for the simple and usefull queries you shoud need right away.

KQL is replacing our old and lacking query language in the project filter bar. (all previous queries saved in views have been migrated).

the new filter bar

KQL will become more important as time goes. We will soon introduce a proper formula field and query based charts in reports.

Search across all your projects

Search across all your projects (using KQL) by clicking on the search icon in the top right corner:

the new search bar

A new dashboard more useful for you

The new dashboard now focuses on what’s important for you. Create sections which shows the cards that matters to you using a KQL query:

the new dashboard

This new dashboard is a first step towards our vision of a place dedicated to your work across all your projects.


Like mentioned in the introduction, our focus this year is to provide businesses with a truly customizable and easy to use work & project management platform.

This release is adding a lot of new stuff towards this goal to help you manage your projects the way you want it. No need to fallback on post-its or excel sheets to do what your project management tool cannot!

Introducing the Journal and other improvements

Since the last update, we’ve been busy building new ways of interacting with your projects on Kantree.

Today, we’re releasing the Journal.

journal_view

The Journal is a new tool which lets you see all the activities that happened in your project. You can select a daterange, members, or type of activities to filter the journal and get exactly the information you need.

journal

It is the perfect support for your daily meetings ! Just select the day before in the journal view and see what has been done.

We’ve also improved the way to customize groups. No more settings popup, everything is happening inside the dropdown menu.

group-menu

Change the color, add an icon, create new rules for your groups and visualize the changes immediatly.

The project menu got the same treatment and it is now easier than ever to set up an image cover or a theme color.

project-menu

We’ve also fixed a few bugs which will improve your overall Kantree experience.

Stay tuned for more updates coming in the next few weeks.

Introducing improved card customization

The first release of the year is in the continuity of our work to improve Kantree’s user experience started last summer.

The most notable change is our new menu system. It includes larger menu items and better navigation to help you reach more advanced options more easily. Not all menus are taking full advantage of the new system yet but we’ll release incremental updates over the next few weeks.

The new system allows editing options directly from menus. Our goal is to remove settings pop ups as much as possible. The best example of this is the new model switcher menu:

models menu

The second big area of improvement is regarding attribute positioning on cards. You can now drag & drop attributes and create additional tabs. Just grab the small icon when hovering attributes and move them around. You can also move tabs the same way. This means you can now move the “Sub-cards” tab above the “Activity” tab.

moving attributes

These improvements now make it very straightforward to add attributes and customize the appearance of cards.

Annoucing Kantree Enterprise

Today we’re announcing our new Kantree Enterprise offer. It replaces our previous Self-Hosted offering, extending it with more options.

With Kantree Enterprise you can keep full control over your data and fully integrate it with your corporate network. We offer two hosting options:

  • Private Cloud: we take care of setting up and updating a private cloud for you, connected to your network via VPN. You get full access to the servers for auditing.
  • On Premise: you install Kantree on your own servers. We will release Long Term Support (LTS) versions as well as monthly updates.

Unless you require extensive control over your data, we recommend our Private Cloud offer as you get an always up to date version of Kantree, fully managed for you. This means the same experience as our Cloud offer but only for your organization.

The next Long Term Support release, Kantree 4.0, will be available in January with new management and logging facilities for system administrators.

Learn more in our Enterprise section.

Kantree 4.0 - Release notes

Hello Kantree users,

In this update, we’ve been focusing on improving the user experience of existing features, while doing some invisible work to prepare our future multi-project set of tools.

From the very beginning, Kantree has been designed to be accessible and useful to anyone, whatever their background or profession. That’s why we’ve set a high priority on simplicity. But down the road, we have lost sight of this goal a few times and some features which should have enhanced the flexibility of Kantree didn’t reach their goal because they were hidden in complex settings panels.

So this summer we put some efforts into fixing this (merging structure and data, learn more in our previous post) to bring you some new features that enhance the overall experience.

Simplifying the edition of card models

Card models are now editable from your cards. Add custom fields and edit the layout of your cards directly in the card view.

Custom card fields were one of the first feature in Kantree we could have designed better. Basically, you can add new fields in your cards by creating different card models. These card models also add a custom color and icon to your cards so that you can find them easily in your projects. However, the card models editor was hidden too deep in our settings panels and not easy to use.

We decided to put these card models in the light by enabling card model edition directly from the card view.

Click the new “Add attribute” button in a card and select the type of field you want. It will be added instantly to the model of your card and ready to be use in this card but also in all the cards that share this model.

But we didn’t stop here. You can also edit all your attributes there. Simply hover an attribute to make their edit buttons appear. You will be able to modify the name and the description of your attributes or delete them. Be aware that all this changes will be replicated to all the cards that share the same card model.

Of course, all of this can only be done by the project admin members.

Finally the model of your card is now visible in the header of the card view. Click on it to quickly switch to another model or to create a new one.

change card model

Rich text editor: (almost) MS word in your cards

We now provide a rich text editor for your comments and descriptions. Format your text easily without learning the markdown syntax.

As we were focusing on customization in Kantree, we didn’t give too much love to our text editor. However, it is an important part of collaboration tools as we rely heavily on written communication.

We have been supporting the markdown format since the beginning but it seems it is not so popular outside the tech world. We’ve now added to Kantree a rich text editor for your comments and your descriptions (and other rich text attributes).

For now, it provides the basic controls to write beautiful text.

We’ve also added auto-complete of user mentions (try typing @ in the text editor):

Mentioned users will receive an email as soon as the comment is posted

mentions dropdown

There will be more to come in the next releases. Don’t hesitate to tell us what you think or what options you want us to add in.

Updates to the table view

Card attributes are now directly editable from the table view

The table view has been quiet since its release in late 2015, but that doesn’t mean we have no plan for it. Today, as a preparation for future releases, we are enabling attribute edition directly from the cells of the table. Now you only have to click on a cell to edit its content and change the attributes of a card.

editing table cell

Improvements to card states

Card state relationship with groups is now more explicit

States are important in Kantree as they help us understand the meaning of your columns and build analytics and charts for your projects. Using them is kind of mandatory if you want to properly keep track of your work. It was already possible to link states with groups, so that when you drop a card in a column, its state is updated automatically. In this update, we made explicit that a group serves as an alias of a card state.

You will find it in the card state menu.

card state menu with group

More will be done in the next releases to continue on the path of simplicity.

Group types are renamed to contexts

We have always seen the type of groups as a tool to create different contexts within a project. They help to have different points of view on a project, like grouping your cards by their state in your workflow, by assignees, by labels etc.

So to make it clearer, we are renaming “group types” to “context”.

Simplifying card models and context management

We made a lot of changes to simplify the way models and contexts are managed. With the new interface it becomes simpler to understand how to create and modify models and contexts for your projects.

The default template

You will now find a “Default Template” in your templates section of your organization. New projects will now use this template by default. It is now much easier to configure the default settings for your projects by editing the template.

Note that once created, a project is not impacted if the template settings change

New on-boarding experience

Kantree becomes really awesome when you begin to understand its core concepts and how it allows complete flexibility on how you manage your projects.

We now provide an on-boarding tour to all the new users. If you want to experience it, you will find it in the user account menu.

on-boarding tour

On the road to multi-project management

We began to work on multi-project management inside Kantree. It will be our main focus until the end of the year, so stay tuned and don’t hesitate to give us feedback on how you are doing multi-project management in your team.

Improving our UX: data and structure

This summer we set as one of our goals to improve our user experience (UX). Although ease of use is one of Kantree advantages, we believed we could do better on a number of more advanced features and as a result make them more accessible to everybody. We spent some time investigating to understand where we were failing.

We came up with a single principle which helped us reshaped many aspects of Kantree and enabled great improvements: the editing of the data and its structure must happen at the same time, in the same place. This is the key to create easy to use but highly customizable products.

The most notable application of this principle is in Excel. The columns and their style (the structure) are edited at the same level as the cells’ content (the data). It makes it easy to build a representation of the data as you imagine it.

In Kantree, creating new card groups (the structure) happens in the same place as creating new cards (the data). However, adding new attributes to cards (the structure) is only possible from the settings and not from the card itself (the data) which makes it needlessly complicated and forces you to leave your context. This is the kind of UX problems we spent the summer working on and that will be released in September as part of a major update of Kantree.

As described before, the most notable change is the possibility to edit card models directly from the card itself. Here is a preview:

Following the same idea, we improved the way to create different “contexts” (renamed from “group types”) and manage the default project template and allowed editing in the table view.

On top of these improvements, we made many aspects of the interface easier to use and simplified some concepts (eg. card models are now much more straightforward to use).

All these changes and many more will be released in September!

3 tips to set up an efficient Kanban board

simple Kanban board

Here at Kantree, we’re often asked how to start using Kanban to organize work. Beginning from scratch can be tough. Without the right practices, it won’t be long before you leave your beautiful Kanban board untouched with all your team forgetting about it.

Follow these 3 simple tips and be sure to build a good system loved and used by everybody in your company.

## 1/ Start simple and adapt your board on-the-go

A Kanban board is about seeing your work flowing between different states as it goes all the way to the “finished” state.

The basic principle of a Kanban board is to have columns representing states and cards representing pieces of work. You’re goal is to move your cards in the columns that mirrors the state of your work. Thus, when you look at your Kanban board, you have a good overview of what’s going on in your team.

Now, if you don’t know where to start, you should go with the 3 basic state columns “To do”, “Doing”, “Done”. It will help you get a sense of what a workflow can be. Notice the one-way direction from left to right. It is a basic rule to visualize a workflow. As a river flows in one way, having work doing the same helps to identify the issues in your flow.

After that, write down your work tasks on cards and place them in the correct columns. Be sure that one card represents one independent chunk of work. You want to avoid dependencies between your cards. If you don’t, you’re hiding complexity in your Kanban board, and you could miss potential issues in your work processes.

Of course, you can (and you should!) customize this basic flow to adapt it to your way of working. Change it anytime, but be careful that all your team understands why when you do so (see the next section). What kind of columns you use depends on your existing workflow, type of work, and the structure of your team. It’s best to keep it simple, but you do have more control and can cover more scenarios with more columns.

example of customized Kanban board Example of customized Kanban board for software team

But you’re not done yet with the Kanban method. If you stop now you will struggle having all your team using it efficiently.

## 2/ Setup clever Kanban policies

One important rule of the Kanban method is to set up policies on how to use your board. The other part of the rule is to make them clear for everybody in your team.

This is one of the most forgotten rule of Kanban and yet it is key if you want to get the best out of your board.

You should cover:

  • What conditions a sticky note should meet to enter a column,
  • What conditions a sticky note should meet to leave a column,
  • How and why you’re setting a limit to the number of cards in a particular column
  • And a lot of other information like who is able to move cards on your board, or when you should removing a card from the board…

You don’t have to be verbose, and explain every little details, but you should be clear enough so that all your team is understanding how to use the kanban board.

One of the most important is The definition of Done. If everybody agrees on what is a finished task, you should avoid a lot of issues (unfinished work that goes in production, unclear responsibilities and tension in your team…).

One other policy your should try is to apply a limit to the number of cards in your “Doing” column. It’s called a WIP (Work in progress) limit and I already mentionned it in my last post about kanban. Basically you don’t want to have more cards in your “Doing” column than people using your Kanban board. You want to force the focus on the work in progress to avoid leaving tasks in an unfinished state, and prevent multitasking. If done well, it will strengthen your workflow and improve your productivity.

3/ Don’t forget about feedback loops

Kanban board should not be set up once and left like that forever. As your company evolves, your processes will evolve too. Soon you will see room for improvements in your workflow and you will want to modify it.

So it’s a good practice to step back regularly, look at your kanban board and your work processes and make changes in your organization accordingly. It can be a new column. It can be to setup a new way to make out visually the different types of work in your board (with custom colored cards for instance), It can be a change in your policy.

These feedback loops are often overlooked in the Kanban methodology, but they help a lot to keep your kanban efficient in the long run.

Takeaways

With these 3 tips you will surely get the most out of your Kanban board.

So remember to:

  • Start with a basic board and see how it is going.
  • Let everybody understand how to use it by setting clear policies about your columns
  • Try a WIP limit, you will seriously get addicted to it.
  • Take time regularly to analyze your practices and make changes in your boards (the best is to set a recurring event in your calendar)

To start right away, we’ve configured a little board template for you to use with Kantree. You can find it here : Kanban template. Don’t hesitate to try it and modify it for your own use.

As always you can reach me on twitter @djeremh.

June Update

In our effort to make Kantree always faster, better and to provide the best user experience, we’ve released a large upgrade which fixes a lot of small issues. While these upgrades are mostly under the hood, you will notice a few new features.

Dock the card view on the right

We’ve added the possibility to dock the card view to the right of the screen when you’re in a project. This is great for wide screens as you can visualize your board next to a card and switch between cards much faster.

Docked card view

You can switch between docked and modal mode using the button in the upper right corner of the card view.

Stats on Kanban columns

On the Kanban view, we have added a small indicator in the upper right corner with the number of cards present in the column. If you click on it, it will open a small panel with a progress bar indicating the completeness of tasks in the column.
It will also display the sum of values from any number attributes in cards of the column. This is especially useful for SCRUM practitioners as you can now quickly visualize how much points is worth a column.

Control which attributes appear on card tiles

You can now configure which attributes should appear on a card tiles. This can be done from the model editor using the Show on card tile option.

API

We have finally opened our API to everybody. We provide a Swagger spec file for easy integration. You can browse the reference and have fun with the API online.

For the moment, we only provide authentication via an API key but we’re planning to add support for oAuth 2.0 soon.

Additionally, you can sign up for our Zapier integration beta by sending us an email at contact@kantree.io.

Improved documentation

Our Help site has been updated with documentation for the self-hosted version and an introduction to our API.

As always, you can track what we’re working on on our roadmap.

What is Kanban ?

In my first article about well-known methodologies which have emerged from or have been assimilated by the agile movement, I would like to present the Kanban method.

kanban

Kantree was originally thought as a tool for Kanban which explains a part of our name :)

For about 10 years, Kanban has been quite popular as a change Management method to improve the way companies organize their workflow.

With this article, you will learn everything you need to know about Kanban and which are the best practices.

At the origin of Kanban

Back in the after-war japanese industry, the Kanban process was a signaling system.

It originated from Toyota’s Production System which was developed in the 1950s as an implementation of a lean manufacturing system. Small paper cards, called kanban, were used to track demands and discover issues in the production flow.

An evolution of Kanban

Because of the work of David J anderson and the Kanbandev community, Kanban became an approach to incremental, evolutionary change for technology development/operations organizations.

It comes with 4 principles which recommend to start with the current state of the organization, acknowledge what already works great and improve what doesn’t, one step at a time. It also encourages to empower people to make these changes, thus enabling a Kaizen spirit to spread across the company.

Below, I will explicit each of these principles.

Start with what you do now

Beginning with Kanban doesn’t imply doing sweeping changes in the way you’re organized. It starts by trying to visualize the flow of value in your organization. Then slowly, you will apply fixes in your systems to remove bottlenecks and maximize your flow.

Agree to pursue incremental, evolutionary changes

To complete the first principle, the second one told us that changes should be as small as possible and always in a sense of continuity and evolution of the existing system. It helps disminishing resistance due to uncertainty and fear that could pop when changes are too brutal.

Respect the current process, roles, responsibilities & titles

The Kanban way of thinking recognizes value in the existing processes, roles, responsibilities and titles. The Kanban method encourages you to empower what is already working and only apply changes where it is truely needed. No Big Bang. The Kanban method try to reduce as much as possible emotional resistance to change.

Encourage act of leadership at all levels

Here you want to distinguish management from leadership. Everybody (not only managers) should be encourage to act as a leader and to become one. Leaders are people which are never satisfied with how good their work is and continuously try to improve. This mindset is often referred to as Kaizen, and everybody should be encouraged to foster it.

Best practices

From successful Kanban implementations emerged best practices and advices. They were slowly added to the method.

It suggests you to setup a tool to visualise and measure how the work is flowing through the organisation (e.g. the kanban board).

To improve the predictability of your work delivery, you’re encouraged to implement some sort of pulling system by setting work in progress (WIP) limits.

Finally, it comes with some change management advices :

  • make policies and processes explicit so that anybody knows them and can participate in improving them,
  • prefer a scientific approach to reduce uncertainty in your changes,
  • implement feedback loops to continuously monitor your system

kanban tools Simple personal Kanban board via photopin (license)

What you should remember

Kanban is a great method to

  • evaluate your organization processes and improve them
  • improve the speed and predictability of your delivery through better workflow management
  • having collaborators happier and committed to your project
  • set up a Kaizen mindset and create a dynamic of continuous improvement

Kanban is not a project management methodology, but helps you improve your project management continuously.

The kanban board is one of the famous tool used to provide a workflow visualization, but the Kanban method shouldn’t reduce to it.

In my next article, I will talk about this board and how to successfully setup the method.

As always, don’t hesitate to give me feedback and discuss with me on twitter, @djeremh.

Useful resources

Julia Wester on Kanban: Julia provides a useful summary of what Kanban is. Check out her other articles, you will learn a lot on agile methods.

Kenji Hiranabe on Kanban: back in 2008, Kenji wrote a fantastic piece of paper on Kanban and its origin in Lean Manufacturing in Japan. Still worth reading.

Interview with David J Anderson: It’s always worth reading David on Kanban. Check out his blog if you want to follow the future of Kanban.

Exploring the 4 values of the agile manifesto

When I start learning new things, I like to come back to its source and discover where it comes from.

When you look at the Agile movement history, every source is pointing to the Agile Manifesto, back in 2001.

The beginning

mountain

At that time, a new project management methodology known as XP programming was trendy in software development. Other methodologies referred to as “Lightweight methods” were also emerging.

17 active leaders involved in these communities decided to meet at Snowbird Utah February 11-13 2001 to discuss about what was in common or what was different between all these methods in the field of software development. From these, emerged the agile manifesto, a statement of 4 values that capture the core ideas that all the participants shared during the meeting.

The agile movement was born.

The 4 agile values

Every value has the same syntactic construction: “statement A over statement B”.

This construction acts the necessity of reestablishing a new balance between the two statements. It is not a complete denial of statement B, neither it is an absolute supremacy of statement A. We should consider giving more importance to statement A than to statement B.

With that in mind, here there are:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.

When it comes to do some work, we often hide ourselves between our management processes and our tools.

We often forget that processes and tools are not working alone and that there are actually people who are still doing a major part of the work.

So work is all about people interacting with each others to complete some tasks.

In the late 90s, these interactions were really procedural because of work segmentation and specialization. Collaborators in big organizations were often working in silos and disconnected from the customers they served. Employees were mainly considered as valuable resources.

To overcome these communication problems, agile methodologies rely on frequent inspect-and-adapt cycles, on trust and respect between stakeholders, and on transparency of the data, actions and decisions.

Being agile is refocusing on people and how they work together. If you have it wrong, processes and tools won’t be of any use.

cooperation

Working software over comprehensive documentation

In the typical waterfall approach, customers are audited to write down a requirements document. Then, the product is built while giving more documents to the customers about the production state. Then the product is tested and if tests passed, it is delivered to the customers.

The problem is that after the initial customer interviews, changes in requirements are hardly managed during the production process, and have to wait for the end of the build-test cycle.

So a lot of effort are wasted on deliverables that won’t fit customer needs.

Agile methods state that it is better to deliver working software at set intervals than docs about the production state. It means that you have to split up the end product in small pieces of working software that you can demonstrate to your customer.

This way, it is more likely you save time and effort working on useful deliverables, and get happier customers.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Linked to the previous statement, having customers engaged during all the design and production process, instead of at the contract negotiation only, helps producing meaningful products.

A contract isn’t a substitute for communication.

The Agile Manifesto acknowledge that succesfull company listen carefully to their customers at any time in their development process and are able to adapt to follow changes.

Responding to change over following a plan

Having a plan is great, being able to change it is better.

Processes tend to rigidify organization, leaving them unable to adapt to situations like a customer changing its mind.

Agile Methods assert that we should welcome change, instead of fighting it.

Most of the agile methods set up iterative and incremental production, to give some place to feedback and learn from them.

Being Agile

We lean to rigidify all our behaviors and processes to feel safer about uncertainty.

This behavior leads us to waste so much effort and time when things don’t go according to plan. Moreover, team mates feel bad about producing wasted work, and customers don’t get what they asked for.

The Agile Manifesto stands for bringing back adaptability and flexibility to the table.

It promotes communication and collaboration between stakeholders, continuous improvement of the company and people, and iterative and incremental production on which feedback are asked for regularly.

This is something we deeply agree here at Kantree and we try to spread it in our work and product.

Useful readings on the subject

Martin Fowler on the origin of the Agile Manifesto: Martin was one of the 17 who wrote down the manifesto. He shared with us the story of the event.

Jeff Sutherland on Agile Principles and values: Jeff, author of the Scrum methodology, looks back to the agile values and explains them with his work on Scrum

Embark on a agile journey - values beyond agile.

During my career as a web developper, I worked for a French tech company whose CTO was a true agile thinker. At that time, I wasn’t thinking too much about work organization and team management, and it was the first time I heard about agile methodologies. I could feel the difference in term of team efficiency, software quality and team happiness.

teamwork

When I started building Kantree at Digicoop last year, I felt like I needed to put more thoughts on what it is to be agile, to better understand the values carried by the agile movement, and why it is transforming companies and people.

I spent the whole year studying the subject and I am still following all its trends.

This series of blog posts is covering everything you need to know about agile, from practical actionable advices on famous agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban to more theorical articles about cooperation, workplaces … and above all, people.

If you need to remember anything at all from this series, it is that:

Agile is about caring about people, whether they are team mates, customers or yourself.

##Values beyond Agile

At Digicoop (the company behind Kantree), we believe that the workplace is changing. New ways of working are emerging and the Agile movement is just the beginning.

We believe the new trends in management are rooted in a desire of autonomy and responsibility from collaborators.

More autonomy implies a deeper involvement from collaborators. It requires transparency to ensure a clear vision of the situation and of the objectives. It requires trust in your team, team mates and yourself.

It also requires processes which are adapted to each teams and which can evolve through time.

This is our values which I will share with you along the road.

journey

##Join us in this awesome journey!

With this series, we want to help companies understand why it is important to take care about work organization and how an agile mindset can bring true benefits to you: better team productivity, better software quality, happier team, happier customers.

We’ll publish new post regularly to help you and your team achieve great things while being more and more agile. To get each post emailed to you as soon as it’s published, you can sign up for our newsletter.

Get in touch or send your questions to @djeremh.

Introducing a fresh new design

We’ve released some new features and redesigned Kantree to make the app simpler and more modern. It makes it easier to visualize your projects through different perspectives, and help you focus on the work that matters most to you.

Simpler UI and nicer look

We’ve refreshed the style of the application to make it simpler and feel lighter. The default theme is brighter, the style of the columns and tables are most consistent, and the cards stand out better on your boards.

screenshot

The application now has a single toolbar. It makes better use of your screen space, it brings the main visualization options closer together, and makes them more accessible. It seems much easier to switch from one dimension to another, to filter cards and change your view from kanban to calendar.

Additionnaly, we’ve updated our promotional website.

Group cards by attributes

At the end of last year, we added the ability to group the cards of the same project under different perspectives using our “group type” system. Unfortunately, this was hard to discover and not obvious at all. We think this system makes Kantree really powerful so we’ve made it much more visible in the new design.

With this new release, we’ve also added the ability to group cards by attributes in kanban and table views. For instance, this allows you to assign the cards of the next iteration just by drag and drop, or to set the size of each cards by moving them to a different colmuns, right from the kanban. Not all attribute types are supported at the moment but we will expand this in the future.

Saved views

As Kantree aims to help you focus on things that matter for you, we are introducing the ability to create custom views. They are a combination of filters, card grouping and view modes to quickly view a board through a specific angle.

Here’s an example:

  • cards labeled ‘design’ that are assigned to me, and due tomorrow
  • grouped by milestones
  • in kanban mode

New projects comes with 3 prebuilt saved views: a default view to switch back to the default view, a my tasks for all the cards assigned to you and one to see what’s due this week.

Custom views can be created on the fly, with the option to share them with other project members. This is particularly useful to give teams the ability to switch to a Scrum view (eg cards in table grouped by sprint).

Never miss your due dates

In addition to in-app and email reminders, You can now get a calendar feed of your projects, to view the due dates of your cards as events in external calendars (like Outlook and Google Calendar).

Faster

We’ve also improve the performance of the Web app. The drag and drop behavior is much smoother and more reliable, especially in Firefox. Scrolling also works better - especially on Mac.

We hope you’ll find Kantree even more powerful as a visual management app. Head to our help pages to learn about the many visualization and customization features, and let us know what you think of this update!

Progress Report Nov. 2015

Since our last blog post, we’ve made dozens of updates to Kantree. Here’s a recap of our recent development in the four areas we’ve been focusing on: making the app more “visual”, making it more customizable, adding tools to analyze your teamwork and offer more control over your data.

Visualization

We added two new ways to visualize the cards of your projects: calendar and list views, in addition to kanban boards.

The calendar view was added to help with the planning phase of a project. It shows all the cards and milestones by weeks or months. We use it mainly for reviewing the project and limit the workload of teams over time. A list of all the unscheduled cards is shown next to the calendar, which makes it easy to set their due dates by drag & dropping them on the calendar.

calendar kanban

The list view shows all the cards of a board in one list, along with checkboxes to mark them as done. For now, the list view can help to go through all cards at once regardless of their kanban column but we’ll soon release a new list interface that will surface more info about attributes and makes it easier to organize a project by milestones.

The kanban board also got some additions: the highly-requested WIP limits to warn of potential work overload or bottlenecks, and new column width preferences to adjust the information density of your kanban boards.

We added a tree browser on the left side of all these views: it displays the tree of cards in your project and lets you jump in one click to any level of your project hierarchy.

We also worked on the mobile version of Kantree with a responsive design. The interface of the application is automatically optimized to the size of your screen and works smoothly with both touch and mouse. We considerably improved the performance of drag-and-drop of cards and lists so they can be moved swiftly anywhere on a board. Although the standalone apps will be launched later for Android and iOS, Kantree can already be used fully on mobile devices with Chrome, Safari or Firefox. If you’re curious, try the responsive interface on your desktop by downsizing your window.

Analytics

We added an analytics section with charts and indicators to track the progress of a project over time. Just don’t let colorful charts distract you from getting things done…

Five modules have been added so far: the cumulative flow diagram to track your input-output ratio, the cycle times table to measure the time a card usually takes to move between lists, and the card breakdowns by assignees, card models and milestones.

cumulative flow diagram

More charts and indicator will come later to monitor your boards, with the ability to filter by milestones. For projects with multiple board levels, we plan to add an option to compute stats all the cards in the project hierarchy instead of from the current board.

Customization

We added many ways to customize your kanban boards to take all the particularities of a project into account when planning, organizing and analyzing it. We think this makes Kantree one of the most versatile agile project management tool — no less!

For that, we brought card models to the app since its inception: they allow to create different types of card with custom attributes, card indicator, color and layout, and to reuse them across projects and organizations.

For instance, in our project for Kantree development, we manage our features requests and our bug reports in one board. For that, we use an “issue” model with custom fields for reproducibility and severity, and a “feature” model with attached files for specs and feature size. Thus, the cards in our board can fit our needs and can change as our project evolve.

This shows how different your cards can look once you customize them:

kanban cards

We also introduced board templates so anyone can set up a new project with custom-made workflows, list options and card models. Once a board is saved as a template, your can allow your collaborators to reuse your work for all future projects in your organization.

Manage your data

We integrated Kantree with three of the top applications for developing a project. Imports from Trello and Asana let you retrieve all cards, tasks and their metadata in Kantree. The Github integration is more extensive as it keeps Github issues synchronized with Kantree cards, and allow for git commits to be linked to card - by branch or by mention in git comments.

We also added a way to export your data by downloading your projects as .csv and .json files.

More importantly, we started the beta program of the self-hosted version of Kantree in September.

This version allows organizations to run Kantree on their servers and have full control over their project management software and with total privacy for their data. This self-hosting version is currently being tested with our partners and will be released publicly later this month. Sign up for the beta if you want to get it early.

Ongoing development

Besides this, we made many refinements, including keyboard shortcuts and right-click menus on cards. We also added the all-important ability to move and copy lists and entire boards. You can explore our product roadmap and follow our dev on dev.kantree.io.

We’re currently working on a new system of groups that will make it easier to organize your cards by milestones, EPIC, labels… actually, by any type of group. We’re very excited about this, but this is for another blog post so stay tuned!

Starting Kantree beta

Hi everyone,

We’re excited to launch Kantree in beta and we’re eager to get your impressions.

To join the beta, sign up on kantree.io and we’ll email you an invite code to create an account. The first batch of invitations are being sent today and we’ll dispatch more in the coming days.

kantree screenshot

We can’t wait to hear your feedback on this first release. We hope you will like ability to create hierarchical boards, to customize them and collaborate with your team in real-time.

We’re actively developing Kantree to make it more powerful, more flexible and easier to use. We’ll release more ways to customize your boards soon but we need your feedback to make Kantree works best for your projects and your worflows. So please post your questions and impressions on kantree.uservoice.com — we’re listening closely!

Feel free to forward your invitation to colleagues and friends, so you can add them to your organizations and invite them to collaborate on your projects.

I’ve also created a sandbox board that every beta user can join and contribute to.

Thank you for being a part of our journey to build an intuitive and customizable project manager.

Jérôme

PS: Don’t forget to subscribe to follow us at @kantreeapp to get our next updates.

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