The month of June is filled to the brim with exciting summer activities. In Japan, many people (myself included) are taking advantage of the rich plum harvest and turning it into delicious plum jams in our own kitchens. At Nulab, we also began a week long of ‘Kaizen’ at the start of the month.
Kaizen, 改善 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen), is a Japanese term for improvement and change. In what we call the Backlog Kaizen Week, all Nulab developers come together to join the Backlog team in improving Backlog. For one entire week, all our developers worked on nothing else except Backlog, planning and implementing changes on existing Backlog features.
Why Kaizen Week for Backlog?
When Nulab first started, Backlog was our first and main product that gave us a lot of traction. Today, it remains as our most defining and extensive product in which we have devoted massive amounts of time and love.
Over the years, we have put a lot of focus in developing new features to increase the functionality of Backlog. For a product that has a long history and many active users, we’ve also spent much time responding to popular user requests and on daily support tasks. Unfortunately, this left us with little time to work on the small simple things that we felt are equally important.
The Backlog Kaizen Week was therefore held so that all the little things on Backlog are updated and improved alongside the bigger changes that have so far been introduced. We want to ensure that Backlog delivers an experience that is complete even as it continues to grow.
As all our developers gathered to tackle this task together during the Backlog Kaizen Week, we also looked forward to seeing a vibrant exchange of technical skills and knowledge as well as ideas among the different product teams.
Familiarizing, Planning, Assigning
Prior to the commencement of Kaizen Week, we had all developers across the different teams to review the development system setup manual so that everyone would be able to dive smoothly into developing Backlog. Together, we made a list of roughly a hundred small improvements that we wanted to achieve and took effort to review the list, making sure that large improvements that required more than a week’s worth of work were removed. Ensuring that our goals were kept realistic and attainable would help us achieve more within the short week.
Finally, we had each developer pick out an improvement they were most inclined towards. With each improvement being assigned as a task to the relevant assignees on Backlog, Kaizen Week began.
The week got off on a great start. All Nulab developers were gathered around a huge table at our headquarters in Fukuoka, an arrangement that encouraged a lot of interaction and discussions. Thanks to thorough prep work, most of our developers were able to set up the Backlog development system within a quick half hour. Also on day one, Yamamoto from the original Backlog development team created a bot that regularly updated us on milestones achieved throughout Kaizen Week. Being able to visualize and track the progress of each developer added extra motivation for everyone.
By the end of the week, we were able to achieve around 60 improvements in total. Apart from that, all Nulab developers across different product teams are now well familiar with Backlog – from its development to its everyday functionality. The overall achievement of Kaizen Week is definitely immeasurable.
A New Tradition?
With the success of Backlog Kaizen Week, we have plans to bring it back next year and subsequently turn it into an annual event. While the improvement list was mainly put together by the Backlog team this year, we hope to have all the developers pool their ideas together for future Kaizen Weeks (much like a hackathon) to make the experience even more engaging and rewarding for everyone. We are also pretty eager to try out a Kaizen Week for our other services, Cacoo and Typetalk, in future!
List of Improvements
Now that you’ve learned about Backlog Kaizen Week, you might be curious about all the little improvements we have made. Take a look at the list below and head on over to Backlog to experience them yourself!
- UI Improvement – Calendar Control
- Added – Holidays on Calendar Control (Japanese Holidays Only)
- UI Improvement – “Show All” in Adding Child Issue Dialog
- UI Improvement – “Show All” in Bulk Editing Issues Dialog
- Fixed – Gap in Issue’s Status Label on IE10
- Added – Copy Short Link to ‘Find Issue’ Page (Coming soon)
- Added – Copy Short Link to ‘Edit Multiple Issues’ Page (Coming soon)
- Improvement – Jump to Details Field on Adding Child Issue Dialog by Tab Key
- Disabled – Archived Milestones in Milestones on Adding Issue Page
- Fixed – Error on Advanced Search Page when Keyword Contains Only Spaces
- Fixed – Search Condition Shared Among Multiple Projects
- Fixed – Duplicate Issue Added when Browser’s Back Button is Used After Adding an Issue
- Fixed – Tab Order in Add Issue Page Instead of Automatically Moving the Focus to Subject Field
- Fixed – Increased Number of Allowed Characters for Custom Attribute Description Field
- Added – Help Link on ‘Update Issues at Once Page’
- Adjustment – Copy Button Position on ‘Update Issues at Once’ Page
- Disabled – Attach Files when Files are Dragged and Dropped Outside of Specified Areas
- Fixed – 404 Error Page when Top Left Cell in ‘Find Issue’ List is Clicked
- Enabled – Asynchronization on ‘Find Issue’ Page without Screen Transition (Coming soon)
- Fixed – Dialog Moves when User Selects Text in Text Field for Adding Child Issue
- Enabled – Show Attached File Preview in Comment Field
- Enabled – Copy Issue Key on Chrome (Pepper API Flash)
- Enabled – Copy Text in Side Panel on ‘Update Issues at Once’ Page
- Enabled – Open Issue Page in Same Window as ‘Find Issue’ Page for the Second Time
- Improvment – More Progress Bar Colors for Categories and Milestones (Coming soon)
- Added – Option to Recognize ‘Resolved’ as ‘Closed’ in Burndown Chart (Coming soon)
- UI Improvement – Milestone on Project Home Page
- Fixed – Vertical Position of Member List on Project Home (Project Members Widget)
- Improvement – Easier Access to ‘Edit Milestone’ Page
- Added – Wiki Syntax for Text Color (without Markdown syntax)
- Change – “Back” Label on ‘Edit Wiki Page’ to “Cancel”
- Added – Avoid Special Letters to be Rendered in Wiki in Formatting Rule
- Disabled – Send Email to Person who Updated Wiki
- Added – Copy Short Link to Wiki Page
- Enabled – Star for Modified Wiki Page
- UI Improvement – File Browser on ‘Edit Wiki’ Page
- Added – Short Link for File in ‘Files’
- Added – Short Link for Folder in ‘Files’
- Added – Image Preview in File List View
- Added – Git Repository Filter
- Enabled – Load Git’s Older Recent Updates by Mouse Over on “Show more”
- Added – Project List Filter on ‘Project Settings’ Page
- Added – Project List Filter for Each User on ‘Add User’ and ‘Edit User’ Page
- Added – User List Filter on ‘Edit User’ Page
- Improvement – Show Older Updates on Member Page
- Improvement – Optimized HTML and CSS to Compress File Size and to Improve Performance
- Improvement – Selected Icons
- Change – Default Encoding to UTF-8 for Bulk User Registration(Coming soon)
- Fixed – Label for Password Length on Sign Up Form
- Improvement – User Icon on iPhone App
- Improvement – Cleaner URLs (Without “.action”, e.g. ‘/MyPage.action’ to ‘/dashboard’)
- UI Improvement – Show All Attributes by Default Instead of Clicking “Show all” for Add Issues via Email
- Added – List-Unsubscribe Header in Emails
- Added – List-ID and Mailing-List Headers in Emails
- Improvement – Performance for Showing User Icon Images
- Improvement – Shorter Labels on ‘Space Settings’ Page
- Improvement – HTML Title Tag
- Added – Show Banner to Lead Users to Apple Store for Users Accessing from iPhone
- Fixed – Show Line Breaks in Milestone Description
- Improvement – Set Default User Icon Colors Randomly