Backlog Case Study: Books Kinokuniya
Getting teams on the same page with Backlog
Books Kinokuniya is the largest bookstore chain in Japan with 56 shops. Outside of Japan, they have physical stores in the United States and other countries, as well as 7 regional e-commerce websites (a.k.a. webstores) that serve Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, and Dubai. For this case study on how Kinokuniya webstore teams are using Backlog, we interviewed their team in Singapore.
Key solutions used
Books Kinokuniya webstores are developed and maintained by their vendor in Japan. Previously, whenever there were bugs or issues that needed clarification, each regional team would email the headquarters in Japan for advice or to liaise with the vendor. However, the process was inefficient and led to information silos. After using Backlog, it was easier to track issue status, and have a platform for all teams to share information and help each other out.
The Books Kinokuniya teams are in different geographic regions and they operate independently, communicating individually with Japan HQ via email. Sometimes, the same issues cropped up in more than one region and Japan HQ found themselves handling them repeatedly - an inefficient process.
There was initiative to bring the teams together but the group and chain emails was messy and got people overwhelmed. Instead of smoothing communication and collaboration, it led to the opposite - information silos between teams and emails that wasted time to sort.
Before Backlog, it was messy, hard to keep track, lots of emails flying around. Someone replied to this email but might miss another. And with attachments, it makes the emails really large, which is not feasible.
How Backlog helped
Everyone on the same page. When any team encounters issues about their webstore, they can report it on Backlog. This ensures that everyone knows what’s happening and has a clearer sense of the overall goals and obstacles. What’s more, issues like system bugs can be easily raised to their vendor within Backlog.
“Everyone can get on the same page (to discuss) and the Japan team can tag the issue and raise it to the website developer.” - Ng Sim Yen, Assistant Division Manager.
Issue categorization. Every issue created in Backlog can be categorized, for e.g. a Request, Bug, Task, etc, and it can be assigned or handled accordingly by the respective team member. This enables the Kinokuniya teams to sort issues easily and manage their work more clearly.
Customizable Issue Templates. Users can customize issue forms to suit their own needs. Books Kinokuniya set up issue templates to differentiate issues by country, for e.g. they can just select Singapore if the issue is for the Singapore team, or if it’s an issue common to all, they can leave it blank to indicate that the issue is relevant for all regional teams.
Issue status. Each issue has a status label, for e.g. Open, In Progress, Resolved, or Closed. This helps the teams to track which issues are still pending and also keeps them informed of work progress.
“With emails, you have to write a reply, or say you’re working on it. Now, when you raise the issue, you can see when the status changes so you know it’s being handled.” - Ng Sim Yen, Assistant Division Manager.
Information platform with Files and Wiki. Besides using Backlog to share important files, Kinokuniya headquarters uses the Wiki feature to share technical information and guides - a convenient resource for the other teams to refer to.
“Backlog allows you to store some documentation so that later, rather than raising a new issue again, we can just refer back to the attached documents or shared files. So, you have a sort of FAQ or manual to refer to.” - Beck Chai Moh, IS Manager.
After using Backlog for more than a year, the Kinokuniya Singapore team report that using Backlog has helped them in their work. Besides making it easier to track work tasks and issues, they find it useful in sharing knowledge and helping one another. This results in more team alignment and more transparent communication.
“The experience has been positive. With everybody on Backlog, if one team sees a problem that another is facing, they can immediately share their knowledge.” - Beck Chai Moh, IS Manager.